Waking up too stiff to move I have just realised how much work is ahead of me.
My challenge – to climb 8b+ in the 360 days before I am 50 from my current grade of about 7b+ – rests on my ability to try hard enough and Tom Randall’s ability to set me a program. Yesterday, during Tom’s unique, specialised test procedure (giving him the information he needs to set me a program) I cottoned on to the fact that I may have to try a bit harder than I was hoping.
The first test, deadhanging with weight or assistance, was OK and he figured that I hadn’t moved too far from a very rough test he did on me a few years ago while I was actually bouldering a bit.
However, the second, a series of circuits on his ‘Lattice Board’, designed to test aerobic and anaerobic activity and other things was brutal. Increasingly pumped with forearms and fingers screaming I struggled to complete laps then struggled to complete moves. Each move isn’t difficult (as Steve McClure put it it’s ‘E6 2A’) but once you’ve done a ‘maximum’ the next series which Tom puts you through, with what seems like progressively smaller rests, start to hurt.
I was pleased with my first go and I posted what I felt was a reasonable number of moves. But then came the repeaters. Tom sent me off again with a target he’d set (a % of the first go) and again this went OK. But with two minutes rest the third ‘lap’ started to hurt….and the fourth lap really hurt, I started counting each move out loud to give me an edge.
And suddenly what I was also noticing was that there was a psychological element creeping in. How hard am I willing to try…how much do I want it….how long do you put up with the pump…one more move? two more moves? Five more moves?
The last go was really hard, like setting off on a repoint immediately after getting a solid good go. Counting again, 15,16,17…each move harder than the last…then legs not going where you want them to wrong feet causing more pump…32,33,34…then boom!! Sagging onto the mat breathing hard arms unable to move, bust but happy!!
Strangely enough it was nice to be pushed, to be taunted by Tom’s stick which moved like a metronome in front of me. ‘Up, left, right, down’ Tom’s voice leading me on. I started to realise that I hadn’t actually trained properly for a long time and in some senses that was fun – I always enjoyed training but in other ways it was worrying; can I do this again…fifteen years later??
And it occurred to me that this small test was in someways a mini-version of the next 12 months…I would have to have this intensity but without getting injured or losing my psyche.
Steve McClure had joined us halfway through the session and it was a bit bizarre being watched by one of the best sports climbers ever, someone who’d on-sighted my grade goal two weeks previously in Chulilla. Perhaps it helped – who wouldn’t want to try hard with him watching. Afterwards I collared Steve about my chances and his face was a picture. He evidently didn’t want to be negative but at the same time didn’t want to bullshit me…’maybe’ was his considered opinion when I asked him if I’d do it…
Even so, I was proud of my efforts in the test and it did leave me with a good feeling about my climbing –at least I could still try hard – I just had to see if the results matched up to my goals and whether Tom would give me the thumbs up or thumbs down!!
Form filling and interviewing me afterwards; current grade, style of climbing, lots of probing about my motivations and goals as well as explaining a bit more about how it all worked, Tom was giving nothing away. ‘I’ll need a few hours to sort out the results’ he said deadpanning and with that i was left hanging.
PS: It was really interesting watching Steve on the stamina test after me for although he did 100% more than me when he did start to fail it was his legs and his foot placements that went first. Exactly like mine. Not sure that this proves anything but it was very interesting…