Today’s topic: Resting. I originally had this designated as “easy,” because nothing seems like it should be easier than resting enough to promote solid climbing (or athletic performance), right? But then I thought about my own struggle with resting enough, and I realized that this one falls into a gray area, at least for me. Resting enough seems like it should be an easy thing to adjust, but it often isn’t – especially not for enthusiastic folks like me who are more than willing to push their bodies beyond the breaking point on a daily basis.
(An aside, here. Wow, is it ever hard for me to separate these elements out into single components for blog entries and articles. I suppose that’s to be expected and a good thing, really; it indicates how interconnected and integral my view of the whole climbing/training process is these days. But, for example, I find myself wanting to include nutrition and hydration and recovery tactics and commentaries on supplements and substances and so forth into the topic of resting…but no! Those have to wait, though I will touch on some of them briefly in today’s discussion.)
My routine: After years of struggle and overtraining despite my best intentions and growing knowledge of the necessity of resting enough in order to reap gains and avoid overuse injuries/burnout, I seem to have finally settled into a pace and ratio of training and climbing to resting that works for my individual body.
My current winter-training regimen (focused on training my weaknesses) involves several weeks on of heavy-intensity training. Each week includes 2 hard days and 1-2 more moderate days of specific climbing training (the components of each of these days depend on the week and the day, and I’ll discuss these components more in future blog entries). I take at least one day totally off from physical activity in each on week, sometimes more – this just depends on how I feel. Most important to me is to maintain a consistent high-quality effort in my two high-intensity workouts each week, and to come into each of them as recovered as I possibly can so that I can give 100 percent and reap the benefits of that effort.
Backing the camera up for a more month-to-month view of this year, each month includes a lighter week, with some months featuring two or three lighter weeks, depending on the cycle, my travel plans and climbing-performance plans, and so forth.
Beyond this, no matter what my training or climbing schedule says, I will forgo my plans or a particular part of my plans if my body doesn’t feel recovered enough for me to proceed and see gains. For a driven person like me, this concession has been hard-fought, but I’ve pushed myself over the edge into overtraining far too many times. I’ve also seen the positive results of “extra rest days” enough times now to realize that they’re pretty much always good, despite the nuttiness I experience when weather or whatever other circumstances force me into extra rest days. In other words, while I don’t love rest days, I can handle them better now because I’ve seen the results. I’ve learned, at long last, that (within reason), more rest is almost always a good thing – so long as the person in question is putting in high-quality, high-intensity, weakness-focused workouts or solid high-intensity climbing efforts on their “on days.”
This multipart series of blogs and articles starts here, in case you have to catch up. Remember that my designation of each area as “easy,” “medium” or “hard” is purely subjective. I’ve arrived at the designations from my personal experience garnered from 20 years of climbing along with my observations from climbing coaching throughout the past four years. You may find some of the areas harder or easier to change than I do/did. Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.
One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing, bouldering and training!
I hope you’re out today somewhere climbing or training, warm and happy — or still taking a break, recovering from last night’s festivities and savoring the last of the holidays spent with friends and family.
As the old year winds down and the new one begins, it’s always a great time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year — not just in climbing but also in your life overall. Today’s a great day to start doing this, before you rush headlong back into work, school, both, or just life in general, along with the daily stress that comes with these obligations.
I’ve already taken a lot of time to do this myself over the past two weeks — during which I did not rock climb OR train for climbing at all (!), but instead, spent much of my time having acupuncture treatments and floundering about on cross-country skis in Canada. It was my first time ever cross-country skiing; I got schooled by my 70-year-old father-in-law every day I went; fun! Being a beginner was cool; I liked experiencing the quick learning curve again, even if I ate many face-fulls of snow in my efforts to instantly master how to stop or at the very least maintain control when going down a steep, curvy hill and the tracks disappear.
In all honesty, though, I actually started on this process of reevaluating my goals for 2013 (and beyond, I suppose) long before that; much contemplation and introspection has gone on for me this year since my nerve injury. And while it seemed so horrible and devastating at the time, as is so often the case, in retrospect, having that injury proved to be one of those proverbial blessings in disguise, though it took me the rest of the year to fully realize this truth. But in fact, being able to take two weeks off from climbing at the end of 2012 and to not feel bad or guilty about it at all — to view it instead as an awesome contributor to starting 2013 off on the right foot for me, both in terms of climbing and training for climbing as well as just for my overall person – indicates a remarkable change in my being in and of itself.
I enter 2013 armed with a pretty different goal list and changed priorities than I’ve had in the past, and I’m psyched about that. Topping the list? To train smartly (meaning not overdoing it) and avoid injuries at all costs. I have already planned out a schedule of training that includes plenty of resting, and I have promised myself I won’t feel bad about the rest periods. This may seem like a “duh” revelation, but even though I know how valuable resting is, it’s definitely been the biggest struggle and stumbling block for me personally in my frantic drive to gain more big-muscle strength and power. The frantic part of that equation seems to have (finally) subsided; a desire to work smartly toward getting stronger and allowing my body dictate the pace seems to have calmly stepped in to take its place. I think this desire may actually be what people call “patience” and “enjoying the process” (tongue in cheek here!) – two concepts I’ve long comprehended with my logical mind but haven’t until recently been able to make fully real in my emotional self.
Of course, I still have some other (much more realistic and scaled-back than in previous years) climbing and training goals on the list, too, but it’s interesting to me that they didn’t come before “have fun every day I climb” (another big ”duh,” I agree, but again a problem of logic vs. emotional response for me) and several other more life-oriented concise goals — endeavors that will undoubtedly keep me a little bit busier and with somewhat less time to blog about the minutiae of my climbing days and training sessions here. I do, however, intend to continue sharing occasional updates as time permits, but more importantly (I believe), I’ll continue providing information on and guidance about aspects of climbing training and just general fitness training, both here and in online articles and sponsor blogs.
So now, it’s your turn. What did you like about 2012? What worked? What didn’t? What do you want to change next year? How can you change those things? What do you want to end this year (2013) feeling like and having accomplished? Spend some time today thinking it through and come up with an awesome plan and set of goals for 2013 that leave you feeling eager and excited to embark on this portion of your life’s journey.
Happy New Year!
Read more at Suite101: How to Set Goals to Improve in Sports (and Life) | Suite101