Climbing and Training

When I first started climbing it was mainly outdoors. Sport climbing as well as multi-pitch, usually combined with lots of hiking. My parents took my younger brother and me outdoors whenever they could and climbing was just another great opportunity to enjoy time out in nature.
Scannen0001 I specifically started training for climbing when I was 11 years old. Back then it was mostly for competitions and what started with climbing on a 10m wall once a week soon became more serious. I spent countless hours riding the train from St. Gallen to Zurich to train with the regional team three times a week. At the age of 14 I got accepted at a sports high school in Zurich and my life was basically scheduled around training. I’ve always loved to go climbing. Before getting into climbing I’ve tried a few other sports but I rarely really enjoyed training, it was always more of an obligation. With climbing it was different, I just couldn’t get enough and I still can’t. Yet there was a time when I struggled a lot with competitions and my climbing performance in general. I spent so many hours training but somehow I could hardly see any progress. I thought about quitting and about everyone else who was so much better than I was. I asked myself what I was doing wrong. Luckily that’s when I started bouldering outdoors more often. I’d never lost my passion for climbing but rather my faith in training. I had forgotten that climbing isn’t just about competitions and grades. Even if I’d quit competitions, I would never stop climbing. Ever. I simply love it too much. Magic Wood Piranja Oct 2012 Foto: Mary Mecklenburg

This insight changed my approach to training a lot. Instead of doing specific exercises I just climbed as much and as hard as I could. I focused on the many reasons why I love climbing: the diversity of movement, the people, being outdoors, the satisfaction of completing a project… I discovered my strengths and weaknesses and learned how to listen to my body. That’s when I started progressing again and I guess this was the main reason why my coach encouraged this freestyle form of training instead of forcing me back into a structured schedule. Maybe he knew I would come back when I was ready. I’m extremely thankful for his understanding and support, I think it helped us build that mutual trust we have now. Since I started my studies in chiropractic medicine in 2013, my whole understanding of the human body got a lot better and therefore also my interest in training and how it works. I slowly got back on a (more or less) regular training schedule, not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to. I’d reached a point where I felt like just climbing wouldn’t get me any stronger, I needed to specifically work on my weaknesses, most of all my finger strength. Maybe I wanted too much at once but the result were repeated minor injuries that kept me from trying my hardest. It made me realize how important it is to do complementary and stabilization exercises to correct imbalances and prevent injuries. It’s something most people know you should do but nobody really does it until they’re suffering from an injury. Some things you gotta learn the hard way right? Anyway, when I had finally overcome those injuries (nothing serious but still frustrating) I simply enjoyed climbing to my fullest capability without anything holding me back. This resulted in pushing my outdoor bouldering limits quite a bit and achieving a 14th place at the bouldering world cup in Munich, my best result so far! Now I’m more motivated than ever and I think I’ve finally found my personal balance between training and climbing. Here are my personal key points to successful training:

1. Listen to your body
Rest is an essential part of training and your body usually tells you when it’s time to take a break.

2. Complementary exercises are part of training
They shouldn’t just be an addition to training but an integral part of it. My shoulder exercises are an important part of my warm-up routine and I try to do specific complementary exercises about twice a week.
core

3. Work on your weaknesses AND your strengths
Working on my weak points usually involves a lot of exercises I dislike, mostly because I suck at them. Yet I know it’s essential to get stronger and seeing progress in something you consider a weakness can be incredibly satisfying. At the same time I find it almost equally important to keep up your strengths. Not only does it help you build self confidence, it also gives you leverage. Here are my three favorite as well as my least favorite exercises. For some reason they pretty much mirror my strengths and weaknesses ;)

Favorites: campusing, muscle-ups, box-jumps
campus
Dislikes: dead-hangs, lock-offs, cardio
dead hang

4. Have fun!
This is probably the most important part. Training can be hard and tiresome but even the boring parts can be fun doing it with someone who shares your passion. At least once a week I still just climb and do whatever I feel like, be it making up silly challenges or trying run and jumps in my tennis shoes.
Natalie_Fatboy-3 Foto: David Tomlinson /mtnlines.ch

This year’s training has started off quite intense but I’m psyched to see some progress and although I feel pretty wrecked most of the time it’s a lot of fun too and I thoroughly enjoy it! Our recent trip to Chironico was a perfect start to the outdoor season with three full days of climbing, great weather and a fun crew. Right now there are so many climbs I’m psyched to try, I had to chose carefully to make it through the whole weekend. I’ve had some good sessions on a couple of my projects on Friday and Saturday, so I didn’t expect to have too much energy left on Sunday. Nevertheless I was keen to get back on Fat Boy (7C+), a really cool compression climb I’ve tried only for a bit in the past. On my last session I had figured out all the moves but there was this tricky foot sequence that was still missing. By now I could climb through the end quite easily but I just couldn’t get past those first few moves. Not really thinking about what I was doing, I could suddenly link the sequence which had caused me so much trouble. Already happy with my progress but also a bit tired and with little skin left, I started giving it some serious burns from the start. After a few tries, somehow everything just fell into place and I found myself on top of the boulder, totally unexpected! I love this moment when everything comes together and you find yourself doing something that felt impossible at first, it’s what makes projecting so rewarding! Let’s see what else this season brings!
Natalie_Fatboy-1 Foto: David Tomlinson /mtnlines.ch

2 Responses to “Climbing and Training

  • Very nice and harmonic conclusion.
    Hope more can get trainers as you had.

  • Such a deep ansrwe! GD&RVVF

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