Tag Archives: training

Old Dogs New Tricks – Day 141 – Re-test – Back on the horse…

Ok so in truth I’m 5 months in and probably nowhere near where I wanted to be. (see the challenge here)

And there are extenuating  circumstances: niggling injuries, bigger injuries, climbing trips, moving house (plus lots of visitors to said house), finishing my second book and possibly most of all an inability to not go climbing when surrounded by rock. But as i am finding out going climbing doesn’t necessarily make you a better climber – or at least it doesn’t bring you any closer to unrealistic goals!!

But as we all know ‘extenuating circumstances’ are just excuses wrapped in flowery prose. So as I sit in front of Tom’s house with the dread of a kid who hasn’t studied for an exam I know that I would mark myself ‘must do better’ even before I started.

Below the new Lattice board...

Below the new Lattice board…excuses have no currency here…

The test doesn’t budge, you can’t fool it, there’s no leeway, so I am hoping at least the training I have done – probably 25% of what Tom set me – helps. And I mutter the right things to him and Ollie before the test, and in truth I have found the whole thing great. The Lattice boys, Tom Randall and Ollie Torr, certainly did their side and provided me with a brilliant springboard. It’s not their fault if the client doesn’t dive deep enough.

I warm up, taking more time this time, knowing what’s coming. The test was brutal and I am trying to delay it a bit. However, the bonus now is that the new Lattice board is smoother, cleaner, more skin and finger friendly. I am getting psyched. I really want to climb on it.

First up is the hang test. Like the first time I can only do this on my right hand as my left is buggered so I strain and pull and managed 5 secs with 6.5kg then again with 4.5kg and fall a bit short with 3kg. I’m happy, last time I had one go in me.

Richie 1

Simple but effective. A 20mm edge a stopwatch and some weight!

Then to the main event, the Lattice board. Tom explains in more detail this time how he and Ollie derive the results – it’s clever but it washes over me as the adrenaline builds and I set off.

‘Stop’ I’m three moves in and Tom’s voice brings me to a halt.

‘Why are you using three fingers on your left Richie? You said you weren’t injured.’

I thought I’d got through, bullshitting that my baby finger (which is pretty bad) wasn’t too bad and in the intervening weeks since my FB post was basically OK.

‘I told you, you can’t do the test if you’re injured.’

‘But i need to know’ I protest ‘and I’m sure I can do it with three.’

Tom’s cross over from mate to ‘coach mode’ is quick and he brooks no nonsense. I plead to no avail but Ollie pipes up with an idea. They’ve got a work around. I do a 7:3 hang test. Possibly even more brutal but not going to stress my left hand and they can get some useful results from it.

Ollie counts me down as i hang, 7 seconds on my right, then rest 3 on my left. Repeat ad nauseum as they say. Even though it’s a destroyer and by the 6th ‘maximum’ I am screaming with pump I’m happy to be able to do something. Each block of ten hurts more but I grin and bear it and try to mentally ‘beat’ my previous time.

7 on 3 off....

7 on 3 off….

I collapse. With one super pumped arm and one unstressed baby finger. Job done.

Tom puzzles over how to get useful results....

Tom puzzles over how to get useful results….

Sitting round the table at Tom’s after crunching the numbers they show me my new graph. Set against the last one it makes for reasonable reading – more recovery, more stamina and in general a bit better. However, interestingly Tom’s take is most crucial – there is adaption, I am trainable!!!

He’s quite pleased. There’s something to work with and he goes into a huddle with Ollie.

‘OK Richie, the truth is we can’t condone climbing on an injury, so the only way to continue is to have time off and train weights rings and core. Ollie’s the man for this so meet him on Wed morning at ‘the Works’ and we’ll start again.’

Phew, the adventure continues…



Happy, surprised and and psyched: Old Dogs New Tricks Day 5 #2 – The Results

In the end my results from my bruising test (see Blog here) were delayed a bit longer as Tom and I went down to the Schoolroom to talk to Ben Moon and for Tom to have the chance show me a few key exercises on the TRX etc before I had to head back to Spain.

It was interesting to hear Ben’s take on it all. He’d been in the same position as me about 24 months ago – getting himself up off the sofa (not literally like me) to jump right back into the world of hurt that is top-end climbing. Ben being Ben he ended up with a 9a ascent. Slightly more than I was aiming for and his grade jump was probably less than mine but in a lot of ways I felt that what he’d done was similar.

His take was very simple – he loved it and he missed it and because of that it was no hardship to start training. Ben had always trained and trained hard – and methodically. This time was slightly different as he’d approached Tom to try and get him an edge: his goal was in sight but eluding him, could Tom’s input give him the vital few % that he needed?

Chatting to Ben at the Schoolroom..

Chatting to Ben at the Schoolroom..

Naturally Ben loved training and so he wasn’t phased by the work; Tom had added some volume and he was struggling with time but his advice to me was simple – enjoy it and put the time in and you’ll see the rewards. As he knew me well he also added the caveat of avoiding injury and taking it steady – he’d seen my ‘bull in a chinashop’ personality up-close a few times and was keen to point out that slow and steady wins the race!!

So, plucking up courage I asked him the $64,000 question; would I get up my 8b+?

Another smile, another hesitation, and another slightly embarrassed silence followed (much like that of Steve McClure); then Ben, sounding like he was trying to convince himself, came out with an elongated ‘Yes’…a yes which to all intents and purposes sounded like a no…However, Ben did firm his yes up and was a bit more positive but repeated the caveats of injury and overenthusiasm before tailing off.

I hadn’t climbing with Ben in 15 years so it was great watching him in action again, seeing how much effort he put in and as ever he was strong and smooth on the board as he sent a set of intervals. Jealous!

Heading back to Tom’s I sat about as he fiddled the figures eventually pulling up my ‘dashboard’ – a summary of my results in the form of a series of ‘speedometer’ like dials. Tom smiled as I looked at them, realising by my face that I was pleased with how they looked but had no idea what they meant.


I asked him to help – and to summarise for a layman. Cracking a smile he told me that the best summary was just to say that the results were better than he thought the would be and that, in his opinion I had the basic materials in place to climb around 8b/8b+ with a bunch of training. There was no obvious weakpoint, no trapdoor, which my body had set – even my stamina which I thought of as terrible wasn’t that bad.

Happy, surprised and  and psyched I felt some relief too. I had thought that I wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get back there but it was good to have it confirmed. Flushed I pushed Tom for his view on my chances; and he said that I could do it.

Pushing harder I asked what chance he’d give me, ‘put a number on it’ I said – unblinking he thought for a minute and softly replied 25%…

Old Dogs New Tricks – The 8b+ Challenge – I am a 49 year old climber who is trying to better myself by trying to climbing 8b+ from my carrent grade of 7b+ in the year before my 50th birthday. 

See more here