December 23, 2011 George Foster

Training reflections………and some more Grit

Not injured anymore (touch wood). Plane to Spain to escape the rain, no more pain from the bad weather restrain, time to train etc etc. What’s it called when words rhyme like that? Alliteration? Onomatopoeia? Who knows. Anyway. Time to train. Yes…..

I’ve given training a bash before with limited success. I’ve found that it’s very, very easy to talk the talk with training but it’s another thing altogether to invest the time and effort into persevering with it. That was until I moved to the Lakes, met a few very good, very dedicated people and saw the benefits first hand. That’s the first step, for me anyway. Seeing the product (a horrible way to think of people….let’s try acorn instead)……seeing the acorn developing into a tall oak (a pretty poncey way to think of it…..let’s try book, this after all being a blog of words)…..seeing the book turn from a collection of blank pages to a few chapters, to a novel, to a series etc etc etc is pretty inspiring (what was my original point?!?)

The addressing of weaknesses within oneself amongst the peer-performance orientation of climbing takes a very strong and determined personality. To look at yourself and decide that the next few weeks, months or years are going to see a systematic breakdown of your climbing performance, in front of friends and strangers, in the final pursuit of an often invisible target (by which I mean the massive placing of trust in your methods towards a goal that at times is not obvious at all) demands courage and faith. Climbing is such that gains are often hard to come by. The only balancing factor is the trust that it will be worth it, that you are willing and prepared for the inevitable drop in performance to become a better, stronger climber.

I haven’t been able to show that level of commitment (an interesting parallel to other important concepts/things that I’m mulling over outside of climbing….hmmm) towards climbing and, as I say, I perhaps would never have addressed them had I not had such a massive change of scenery, perspective and circumstance by moving to the Lakes. Even then I spent a lot of the summer just plodding away getting out in the good weather……I had a lot of fun don’t get me wrong, but I was still getting burned off by the folks I was climbing with (nothing like a little bit of competition to stoke the fire!) and decided enough was enough. The board was ace (Rich Simpson seems to think so anyway!)

Then I got injured. Balls. Everything happens for a reason and everything has a lesson to be learned. The injury took me totally away from climbing. I reignited my other interest…..fell-running. I’d been doing bits and bobs over the months but nothing serious. It was through fell-running that I discovered just how hard you can push your body and some pseudo-masochistic switch was flicked. I thought I’d had hard training sessions on the board before that but in running training you literally push yourself to point of being sick, day-in, day-out. With climbing your train to test yourself on rock, something that you can do whenever the sun shines. In fell-running there is perhaps a race once every 2 weeks in your local area, sometimes longer. Training then takes on a deeply personal feel, you need massive amounts of motivation to get up in the pissing rain to do hill reps on some obscure Lakeland fell or go for a long run over the back when the clag’s down.

 Something I read the other day by a famous (though you will probably never have heard of him – go figure) mountain runner called Billy Burns (fell-runnings’ Malc Smith??) brought it home very clearly, he said “In running I found something where I could test myself against myself. It was always painful, always hard work, but was often meditative. The pain gave me perspective. Pain is an unavoidable reality. It is up to the runner whether he can take any more.” He went on to say “Everything in life is a challenge. You can accept the challenge to improve. Or you can bask and distract yourself with success. It’s up to you. After all, sport is about personal growth…….” 

Now I’m not suggesting going out and climbing till your fingertips start screaming at you, but just ask yourself ‘how much effort do I really put in and have I ever found my limit?’ I know I haven’t and that’s perhaps the biggest motivator of all. Knowing that really there is no limit. There are infinite ways to improve. I’m pretty psyched on getting super strong so I can tear the rock apart piece by piece thereby creating new holds and thus new problems for the next generations to come along and try. I want my footwork to become so good that I can push down on toehooks. I want such good technique that the Queen requests that I change my name to Flaggy McDropknee. It’s all attainable but it requires dedication, effort and faith… everything in this world of ours. Remember. PERSISTENCE = WINNERS.

NB: for more ‘Billy-isms’ have a butchers at this.

On another note, went down to the grit the other day. Was good. Esther FINALLY got The Green Traverse ticked. Dave tickled the top of Deliverance. I pottered around. Checked out Raven Tor on a wet day. Cool place like! Minced about on The Weedkiller Traverse as the routes were damp. Dave took some pics below…….


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