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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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A Girl Who Skates…Kind Of!

After watching ‘Whip It’ a few years ago I became pretty interested in roller derby. So last month when I discovered there was a local team taking on fresh meat new skaters, I signed up. It was a brave moment that quickly dissolved into panic when the first day of training came around! But like most things in an anxious mind, the situation is never as bad as you imagine it to be.
Skating is tricky and the training has been very challenging, I was not prepared! Yet I love it as much as climbing. Since skating is all about your leg and core strength, it’s easy to see how working these skills can benefit bouldering, and I have definitely seen some positive changes. I feel much more confident in my foot placement, especially with high feet. Plus I notice I can tense and steady myself if I pop off the wall on an overhang/roof problem, and bring my feet back up to carry on. Small things, but they have made some big differences. Also, I’m not familiar with having set times and days for a hobby, as with bouldering I just turn up and climb some stuff whenever I feel like, but I’m enjoying having a schedule. Once I get sorted I think I’ll plan fixed bouldering sessions too, as this has given me the motivation to start taking things a little more seriously.
I think joining roller derby has been a big confidence boost overall. I realise that this post is slightly off topic, but since it has had an impact on my climbing I figured I would share.
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments 🙂
Happy climbing/skating!

Grade Yourself

The conversation all started from talking about our weekend climb at Kendal. I absolutely loved the training board pictured below, I even caught a quick clip of me climbing it on my Instagram feed. It was kind of like a home climbing woody packed with great holds and movement, it made me want my very own! I spent more time playing on the problems set on that board, than I did bouldering in the whole centre. The angle was deceiving as holds were further away then they first appeared, and it was steep enough to make you work for each move. It wasn’t particularly high which made me feel happy to try harder because I wasn’t scared of falling.  I was as surprised as anyone when I flashed a few problems, but I guess it was because I had found my prefered climbing environment. Instead of accepting the congratulations, I made excuses such as: they were good holds, it was a short sequence, it’s easy because I’m shorter etc, to which A Boy Who Climbs told me off.

Board Kendal Probs
I’ve plotted some of the problems I climbed

I think I find it hard to recognise achievements because I feel unbalanced in my climbing abilities, and it seems to make everything feel muddled. I’m genuinely not bothered about what grade I climb, but I would like to know where I currently fall on the scale. This is what I find  difficult to grasp and nail down. After much discussion he ended up breaking down and grading my skills so I could understand a bit better of how he saw me as a climber, instead of how I saw myself.

Confidence : V1

Grip : V4+

Footwork: V3

Movement: V3

Dynamic: V2

Having someone assess my climbing from outside my own brain was super helpful, as it’s easy to beat yourself up and not acknowledge when you do something great and strong. From this it’s also easy to see my biggest weakness and strength. Working on my confiednce and movemet will hopefully help me level out so I become a well rounded climber. I’m still not sure what I’m capable of and I know it’s going to be a long journey. Out of everything, confidence is the hardest thing to train and the only way to do it, is to do it! It could be worth asking your climbing partner or someone close to break down your climbing elements in this way too.

Happy climbing!

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How To Break In Climbing Shoes

Unfortunately my current shoes are on their way out due to lots and lots of wear. As much as I want to go shoe shopping for some new ones, I think it’s time to start wearing some of the boots I’ve got stashed away. I generally size my shoes bouldering tight, which means they are going to need breaking in. Having experianced a few different pairs of climbing shoes now, I’ve found that the breaking in period is always different. My Evolv Shaman LV took around 2 months, whereas my Five Ten Anasazis LV took about 2 weeks. Branding, fabric, sizing and your own foot shape makes each breaking period unique. Of course climbing shoes will wear in as you climb, but sometimes it’s hard to get them on your feet to start the process!

Here are a few tips to help:

– Use plastic bags over your feet to help you slide into your shoes

– Instead of breaking them in on your climbs, try wearing them at home for 20-30mins over a few days

– Wear your climbing boots whilst wearing very thick socks

– Heat your shoes up with a hairdryer until the rubber is warm to touch and then quickly put them on, let them cool down on your feet so the shoes mould to your foot shape

– Try stuffing the shoes as tightly as possible with thick socks before heating them up, and let them cooldown with the socks still inside to help stretch them out

– Wear your  boots at the end of your climb to practice some easy problems

You can mix and match some of the tips above to suit your needs. I hope this helps to make your climbing sessions pain-free!

Leave your own tricks for breaking in boots in the comments 🙂

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How To Do A Pull-Up | A Newbie’s Journey

I know so many people and climbers who find doing a pull-up easy, but no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to engage the correct muscles in my back to make me go up! However, I like to think there’s no reason to be discouraged by not being able to do something, even if it feels impossible. I’m sure you’ve seen ‘Magnus Midtbø: The One Finger Pull-up’, the Norwegian climber performs some crazy training sequences I previously thought to be impossible for any human. Go check it out if you haven’t seen it.

Being exposed to so many pinkie finger front levers has kind of inspired me to work my current limits. The main reason I want to be able to do a pull-up is mostly for confidence. I think knowing I can do a basic pull-up or chin-up will help me belive I can make some of those strong moves when bouldering. I know that if I want to get better at climbing then I should just climb, but I don’t feel that there is any harm in adding a few other training bits into the mix. Also, it will work alongside learning to use the campus board for training. So all that’s left to do now is to do it! My plan is to dedicate some time before each climb doing the following couple of exercises on the bar:

Holds: Jumping into the pull up position and holding for as long as your muscles will let you before failure

Negatives: Jumping into the pull up position and slowly lowering yourself down

I don’t think there’s much point getting to complex, so I’ll see how it goes with these.
Naturally there will be some clips and photos of my progress over on Instagram and Twitter, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a blog post on it too.

Any advice is welcome, just leave it in the comments.

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Training Tips | Film Yo Self

I love scrolling through Instagram and having a look at all of the #Bouldering videos on my lunch break. I’ve even shared some of my own climbs on there too. Filming yourself climbing is such a great tool for improving, and something I would never have thought of doing at the start of my bouldering adventure. In the latest clip I shared, I was reaching the hold but struggling to keep the contact. If you could have asked me at that moment what it was that was preventing me from sticking the hold, I honestly could not have told you. It just felt like it was there but then it wasn’t, a little frustrating overall. However, after watching myself back a couple of times it’s easy to see my right foot turns in causing my knee to face the wall, which results in pushing me away.

 

Sorry for the crummy video quality, I didn’t expect to write a post on it!

This mini revelation has stuck with me and on my most recent climb (at a different gym) I was more conscious of my foot placement, which resulted in some good progress. So if you’re struggling with a project or certain move and you’re not quite sure why, try recording yourself and see if it helps.

Happy climbing!

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Plateau Low

There’s nothing worse than being psyched for a climbing session, only for it to turn out to be not so great. It feels like I’ve had lots of these kinds of climbs lately and as a result it has been a little disheartening. I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, but after taking the time to think about it I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more a mixture of things which are causing me to not give it 100%. Luckily, all of these factors are things I can fix.

Firstly I realised I was probably getting a little bored of being in the same environment. Don’t get me wrong, having a local stomping ground is awesome but it’s even better to shake things up and climb in different places. Secondly, I know it’s not rocket science but being fully rested before pulling on some plastic makes a huge difference, both physically and mentally. I’ve learned that if I’m genuinely tired then I need to call it a casual climb, otherwise it just doesn’t end well. Following on from this, because I was feeling lousy about climbing I was eating comfort food during the session. However I’ve recently started changing what I eat pre-climb, and what I snack on during a session which you can read about here. This is really helping to level out my mood and motivation (#Hangry) which makes trying hard easier. Lastly and most important of all, being in a rubbish frame of mind can be a deal breaker. I’m learning to treat each climb with a clean slate instead of holding grudges against the problems/holds/gravity.

For me, all of the elements above are linked and have a knock on effect which eventually comes full circle. With all this in mind I realised it was time to try and break the chain to get rid of the plateau feeling. So I had a hefty weekend lie in followed by a good breakfast before I headed off to the Depot Manchester with A Boy Who Climbs. We packed some good snacks and I decided to just enjoy the day without any expectations.

Needless to say I had a great climb and feel like I’m back on track.

 

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Climbing Snacks | Making Better Choices

When I go bouldering I’m that person surviving a long session on an energy drink and sour jelly sweets. Psychologically they are the things getting me up the problems, when in reality they just give me a caffeine infused sugar spike, so when my energy levels crash later on so does my mood. Needless to say climbing feels harder and a good time can quickly turn bad, but this is easily fixed by making better snack choices.

Depending on how you train when you climb depends on what your body will need to re-fuel. Generally I think it’s good to have something more substantial to eat an hour or so before climbing. Anything slow release and carbohydrate based like banana and pancakes, (personal favorite, I am a pancake fiend) peanut butter on wholemeal toast or yoghurt and granola are high-quality munchies. Add a cup of coffee and you’ll be good to go for a couple of hours.

During the climb if you need that quick surge of energy, something fast acting like jelly sweets are great for a swift one/two hour session. However if it’s a long day at the wall your body might appreciate something more slow burning. I find the best food snacks are anything in a wrapper so I don’t end up eating chalk. Individual malt loaves, a banana, mini cheeses or dried salami sticks are all good. Eating little but often for a day of climbing seems to be key, as having a long break and a larger meal can leave me feeling sluggish, and wanting to nap instead of climb.

Drinks-wise water is always good, having regular sips keeps you hydrated and any hunger at bay. If you want to get fancy you can concoct your very own isotonic sports drink for a longer session. Simply mix 1 part fruit squash to 4 parts water, and add a pinch of salt.

Ultimately like most things in life, what you eat all depends on you as a person because you know yourself best. I can’t comment on the best thing to eat post climb, because I have been known to devour a burger followed by cheesecake and a couple of beers after a long day climbing.  I’m no professional but I don’t think that’s ideal for nutrition or health, but I can confirm it taste pretty damn good! However, if you want more in-depth information, from an actual professional, on what to eat for all climbing aspects then check out this article here.

Hopefully this post has made snack choices for keeping your psych up and hunger levels down much easier. Let me know your preferred food alternatives in the comments.

Happy climbing!

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The Campus Board | A Newbie’s Journey

Now found in pretty much every climbing gym, the campus board is a well recognised piece of equipment. It was invented by Wolfgang Güllich to aid his training for the very first ascent of the route Action Directe (9a) in Germany’s Frankenjura.

Since my local wall have just put up a new one, I decided to give it a try.

I currently cannot campus particularly well, so realistically there is no point me trying to 1-4-7 my way up some thin slats of wood. At any rate, I’m of the understanding that the campus board is a training tool for improving explosive power and contact strength, not specifically to get better at campusing. That being said, it is a training tool so I think if it’s used sensibly it can give a performance boost and some climbing gains.

 

Before even glancing at a campus board you really need to have climbed for over 2 years, and should be over the age of 16. This is to help protect your finger tendons and prevent injury.

Beginner Tips

-Always warm up first

-Keep open hand grip

-Use the foot hold so there is less stress on fingers and upper body

-Work easy exercises and build up

-Many sets with little rest, to failure

I’ve dabbled a little and done a few basic exercises, to which I received extreme forearm pump! I still have a very long way to go, but I really enjoyed mixing up some training. What I’m aiming to get out of using the board is some finger strength and dynamic movement. A few beginner exercises I’m working are dead-hangs, up/downs and laddering. There’s no point me showing you how it’s done, because I can’t do it just yet. There is video evidence on my Instagram page! So I’ve linked Moon and Crux Crush articles below which are a haven of campus board information.

http://www.moonclimbing.com/blog/moon-blog/school/campus-boarding/

http://cruxcrush.com/2014/09/15/how-to-train-on-the-campus-board/

 

Happy climbing!

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Yoga Update | 2

I’ve discovered that the hardest thing about yoga is actually rolling out your mat and doing it. I’ve been consistently inconsistent with practicing 2-3 times a week. Mostly I just ended up going straight to the Savasana, in bed, which is easily done after a day of work.
However I’m pleased to say I have managed to get 20 minutes in somewhere once a week, and I feel better for it.
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I’m starting to find the poses and routines easier, and I can almost touch my toes which is something I’ve had difficulty with for a long time. I’m not sure if my yoga gains are translating into my climbing just yet, but I’m hopeful that high foot moves and anything stretchy will begin to get a little easier. Generally it just feels good, almost like a declutter for the body and brain. I think sticking to once a week is the best plan for now, as a little is better than none.
Once I get a little more confident with my poses and balance, I’m going to try and get A Boy Who Climbs to do some crazy Acro-Yoga with me. He is not aware of this plan just yet, so we’ll see how that goes in the next update!

 

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