2018 Has Been Busy Already

Winter break was full on. A week in Albuquerque, New Mexico with family. Followed by 8 days of teaching my two sons how to ski.

Then school began and we have been buried by work that has to get done in order to assist our students in graduation and making everything that they need to do crystal clear. Needless to say I have been on lock down with family and work for weeks.

I have managed to get out 2 days to work on a new route in Unaweep. My friends and I hung and equipped a new 1100 foot line. Take a look.

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Time Management

When my wife and I had our first son, we had to both learn how to manage our time. It wasn’t too large of a change. She and I both were still able to choose which ever runs or climbs that we wanted to train for and attempt to accomplish.

After the second son arrived, more adjustments had to me made to our time management. I learned  a couple of things that directly effected me then and now:

  1. If a climb or route was weather dependent, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! (I will never be able to align training, the weather and the health of my kids in order to send the route!)
  2. If a climb or route was very challenging or really long, plan on it taking a long time. (I need to know fully what I am getting into when I choose something to try or to establish, by doing this I save a lot of frustration and heartache.)
  3. Having multiple goals a year is thinking TOO BIG. (I normally have about 5! I need to hone in on 2-3 things to achieve for myself and call it good and be happy with that.)
  4. That I will miss training sessions more than I want to and it will be ok. (I hate missing my workouts. Not only do they keep me at a the fitness level that I desire to remain at, but they keep my psyche high. I want to always be climbing and when I have day after day of surprises that cut into that time, I begin to get grumpy and that is not good.)
  5. That even though I have less time than in the past that not everyday can be about me and my goals.

Notice!

This is an official statement.

I will no longer be writing personal training plans. I am happy to consult with anyone about a particular goal and how to get there still, but I will not be available to write your plan anymore. Life continues to be very busy for me and I am looking to carve out more family and me time.

I would like to say that it has been a pleasure to work with so many motivated people. Sharing your goals with me and allowing me to help create a viable solution has been great fun and really exciting. I love hear about how you all have reached that goal that seemed too far and too challenging. Continue to plan, train and do it and you will continue reaching your goals!

Sorry for the inconvenience.

What’s in a Climbing Shoe?

I recently traveled out of town to visit family and forgot my climbing bag. Since I was going to be there for a week and there was a climbing gym, I needed to use rental shoes. This was where I learned what a new climber’s first gym experience consists of and how an entry level climber felt.

  1. First off, rental shoes are very comfortable. That is a good thing when introducing someone to a sport that has the potential for uncomfortable shoes.
  2. Rental shoes are lined and can stink. Stinky shoes are not cool, anytime.
  3. Rental shoes are lined and can be moist from the previous user. Someone else’s sweat on your body (even just your feet) is also NOT cool.
  4. Rental shoes Velcro doesn’t stay sticky for long. A shoe that is nearly falling off is not worth wearing.
  5. The rental shoe rubber is very stiff and not sticky like a real climbing shoe. Interesting that climbing shoe companies would design a shoe that is nothing like one of their thoroughbred models.
  6. Rental shoes do not allow for heel hooking. New climbers do the most incredible things when they have no idea what to do and heel hooking is one of those things.
  7. Rental shoes do not allow for edging on small footholds. I will repeat that new climbers use every hold on the wall and small feet are included on that list.
  8. Rental shoes are sizes are not always easily seen by the staff or the renter making it a challenge for the staff to find the shoe and for you the user to know what size you actually have on.
  9. Rental shoes are flat lasted meaning that they are basically useless on overhung terrain. New climbers try every angle at the gym whether they will have success on them or not, with shoes like this they can be assured that their feet will slip right on off the biggest jug in the steep section.

So while using rental shoes, I experienced all of the above conditions while using the rental shoe while on vacation. This is how it impacted my climbing.

  • The comfort of the shoe was fine and I could wear it throughout my whole climbing session.
  • The pair I was wearing were stinky and wet. Not cool.
  • The rubber might as well have been plastic. It did not stay on any type of foot hold even if it was large and flat.
  • The shoe fell off my foot for two reasons, first the Velcro was not sticky and secondly I was heel hooking.
  • I was unable to edge on a single small foothold and I would say that I excellent footwork and toe placement while climbing.
  • I did the same on the overhanging routes with my street shoes on as I did with my climbing shoes. This is disheartening.

My experience leads me to believe that any climbing shoe company that produces a price point shoe as a rental that meets the above criteria is damaging their name for future purchases. The first time user gets to experience a crap product that actually makes them worse in most cases.

Carlsbad Caverns

I took my family to the cave the other day. I hadn’t been there in 10 years and before that for 5 five years. That place is incredible! Convincing everyone that the 4+ hour drive from my in laws house was the challenge, once we got there my son, nephews and father in law were instantly blown away.

The experience begins with a short talk from a ranger and then you can either walk down (the preferred way) or ride an elevator down 750 ft to the Big Room (it is 14 football fields large with thousands of formations and beauty beyond belief and rises sometimes hundreds of feet up to what seems like an endless ceiling).

I suggest walking down the natural entrance, but if your knees are feeling tired, the steep switch backs on the paved trail down will wear them out. You will find yourself rubbernecking, stopping, taking photos, and gazing in wonder the seemingly never ending descent. The cave is not totally lit up, but you don’t need a flashlight or headlamp. The small sections of darkness assist in creating more emphasis on the more striking cave features.

After 10 hours of driving with bathroom stops and sightseeing we all were wiped out, but everyone said that it was worth it.

Sometimes there are things just just don’t seem worth the inconvenience or the time commitment, but they will satisfy beyond belief. I just had my phone with me this trip to the cave so I will let you google some shots of inside the cave if you are interested.

Now, off to the climbing gym for one more training session at Stone Age Climbing Gym before I head back home to Colorado for a little more vacation, work and following through on my 2018 climbing objectives!DSC00626

Breaks…

It’s the winter holidays even though winter just officially arrived on December 21st. What does that mean? It means that if you are attempting to follow a training program or trying to remain goal oriented and focused on a particular goal, that you may be challenged with the pop culture that is going on around you. Especially since pop culture knows nothing about climbing or what it takes to get things done in the sport.

I write this as I ate a little too much today and maybe the day before and probably tomorrow too. Why do I feel like I ate too much? Not because I am trying to avoid weight gain, but because my stomach feels much fuller than it normally does after meals. I still have been able to do my normal workout routine and even get in my trail running miles, but my gut feels full. As my body attempts to get used to the increase in food intake, I feel lethargic, weaker and my mind questions how long it will take to get back into the full swing of things (training).

The bigger question is how long should a break be from climbing? This question is constantly being asked and the answers will vary depending on who answers it for you. First of all, breaks are good, OK and necessary. Rest periods are when your body gets to rest and recover and also times for your motivation to be renewed. I personally don’t really enjoy the times when I choose a break or when I am forced to take a break, but I know that I need them so I do.

Personally, I thrive on routine and often feel the best when I am weeks into one. I know when I will peak, when I will feel low and how my body will respond to changes. It is pretty awesome really. But when the rest period comes, I often do not know how I will feel. I mean my back might be randomly tight or I will strain a muscle just playing with my kids or doing normal house chores. Standing on my feet for long periods (like when I am teaching at school or at the climbing gym) of time will make my back seize up and potentially lay me up if I am not doing my daily stretches. I find that I end up at the chiropractor or getting a deep massage during my rest periods.

So even though I basically feel bad, why are they necessary? Well, our bodies need to rest and “turn it down a notch” in order to catch up to all the work that we have been doing. Our minds need a break from the focus and will enjoy the time for learning new things and creating new brain pathways. Doing creative things during our rest down times allows us to gain new perspectives which assists us in solving problems on or off the rock.

How long is the right amount of time to rest? I would say that depends on you. Ultimately I would suggest that you are not really resting unless you take about 2 weeks off. I normally am taking about that long off 3 to 4 times a year. It is either because of family vacations, work or the completion of a project. I always come back rejuvenated and ready to take on the next bit of work towards some goal that serves no real purpose other than to give me the opportunity to try hard on the rock.

Take your rests and quit crabbing about it. The rest will do you good.

DSC00945The last rest period was around Thanksgiving. Here my son and wife at the Turkey Trot.DSC00942

The Aging Climber and Why Working Full Time is a Great Thing

When I was in my 20’s, climbing every day didn’t impact me until I was deep into weeks of nonstop of pushing hard. I would start to fall on routes that I shouldn’t and I eventually decided that I should rest in order to be able to try hard again. Over the years, college switched to a real career and I had to fit climbing and training into the schedule. I would train 4 days a week after work (or get in after work sessions outside weather permitting) and then try hard on the weekend. Monday would be a rest day if I felt that I needed it and then I would focus on what I needed on Tuesday-Thursday. A Friday rest day again took me into the weekend where I would pitch it out and attempt to climb as many new routes as I could in the few precious nonworking hours that I had. There never seemed to be enough time and my body was never a limiting factor.

Fast forward 20 years to my life now. Still a full time high school teacher, but now a father of two boys and husband to a wonderful and motivated distance running wife. The hours that I used to spend at the gym are now replaced by swimming lessons, music lessons, birthday parties, sports practices, coaching, and everything else that parents do for their kids and each other. The time that used to be dedicated to me improving my climbing is now dedicated to everyone else. Now you might be thinking that this is a bad thing or a challenge or even negative to someone who has let climbing basically take over his life, but you are wrong. Here is why.

At 41, my body doesn’t feel like it was 20 anymore. That means that

  • I need more recovery time after really pushing hard whether I am training or climbing
  • my body doesn’t recover as fast as it used to
  • I now focus on quality over quantity
  • there are movements and sequences that I will choose to not even try in order to prevent injury or further injury
  • I am always focused on the long term
  • taking care of my body is not a goal, but a daily commitment
  • not every route must be climbed
  • the forced rests are ultimately allowing me to climb longer and stay psyched

So as you age and have decades of climbing under your belt, remember that your body needs the change in order to just stay healthy. Allow it in and make the most of the time that you do have outside and it will always be great!

On the contrary, I have been watching those folks who are “living the climbing dream”. They are either sponsored or self sponsored and living out of their vehicles for years on end and sleeping where ever the next great climb lies in the world. Each continued day outside is wearing them down, and making them look as if they have been run over by a truck. They are traveling alone, constantly seeking out partners, and only focused on one thing, the project. The stress from feeling the need to complete their one and only project (really only temporary and fleeting because there is another already planned) keeps them only talking about it. The time alone or with fleeting partners, gives them plenty of think time to continue being stressed since nothing, but climbing occupies their mind. I have watched them pass through climbing gyms that I have worked at or trained at for the last 15 years. It is always the same thing, people are excited to see them, the chat to everyone about climbs that we should know about and do their routine alone until they convince someone to belay them. Their bodies never recover from sleeping in a vehicle no matter what kind of bed they have made. Cold nights and going to the bathroom outside or in a bottle takes its toll. I commend them for doing it, but from my perspective the dark side of it overshadows all the “big sends”.

Happy Holidays

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