Training is a bit of mistery. I don’t think anyone knows the perfect way to train…
IF I COULD GO BACK TEN YEARS…
… i would tell myself to build a wooden bouldering board as soon as I start climbing. Instead of just doing pull-ups and a bit of this and that for two years before starting to train properly. If you have a good board with some fingery holds on whatever you do you will get better faster.
LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
I’ve always listened to my body rather than following a strict regime, and tried to be open-minded. […] Train when you feel like training and rest when you feel like resting. This means that at times you’ll be climbing three days on with one day off, and at others climbing for one day with two days of rest. Occasionally it can be beneficial to trash yourself for a week or so then take four or more days off.
DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO REST?
People used to think that climbing was different to other sports, you've got to rest. But that's not true because even Olympic weight-lifters train six or seven days a week, three sessions a day, and they'll be doing the same movements, it's just that they're fit. In the old days climbers didn't have that and so they weren't used to it.
I set goals all the time: training goals, goals for a month, and goals for the year. I used to write lists and lists of them. I’ve also kept a training diary, every day, for the last four years, it helps to look back on the times when you were strong and see what you were doing to achieve that.
OTHER PEOPLE’S ROUTINES
I’m always ineterested in others people’s routines: if you don’t try new things you’ll almost certainly stagnate.
POWER AND ENDURANCE
When I train for power I like to finish strong and never get wasted. Endurance circuits are different, you shouldn’t be afraid to get tired.
Fingers are the thing that separate out the best climbers from everyone else, if you have weak fingers you can't get away with it. Many best climbers probably aren't that strong in their bodies, but because they have got really strong fingers, they can get away with that.
TRYING THE ROUTE
When I try the route, I stick with it until it’s done. I try to improve everyday, and I’ve never been on the route where that’s not happened. If I can’t do the route, I’ll do specific training for it.
When working on a project I always look for a small improvement for every day. Sometimes it helps to do a longer link or the same link more times or even the same link in worse conditions. Eventually it will come together if you keep getting these small improvments. […] Unlike a lot of people I prefer doing my links from the ground up, after all it’s what you do on the redpoint.
Visualisation is very important on hard redpoints, it’s a crucial skill to learn. As often as possible close your eyes and feel yourself (don’t see yourself) climbing your project, every single move, hand and feet, feeling at your very best on every move and do the route in its entirety. When on a resting hold on a route I tend to close my eyes and imagine I am somewhere else, in a relaxing place. That way I get a better recovery and composure.
Try to see what to do from the deck, break it up into easily manageable mental sections, look for good rests, climb fast and really go for it. You must force yourself to be massively tenacious, too many people give up too easily!
Develop good technique and body tension on the board by using poor footholds but the best of all get out on the rock at loads of different crags and sample lots of new engrams.
DIETING IS A SHORT-TERM GAIN
One of my biggest mistakes was dieting. […] I remember stepping on scales when I was 19 and realising I was 8st 13lb. It was so bad, but I was so dedicated. And when I lost the weight I felt like I was floating. My power, dedication and stamina went up. But it took a lot out of my system […] Dieting is a short-term gain, believe me it doesn’t do you any favors in the long run. Now I’m careful about eating too much fat or volume, but I don’t count calories.
YOU DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT
I think you need some talent to climb 8c+, but you don’t need to be phisically perfect, we’re not at that stage yet.
Ed Douglas, Art of Strong, “Climber” 2003, February, p 30-25
Malcolm Smith, Masterclass, “On The Edge” 1996/1997, December/January, p. 58-61
Matt Smith, Training Tips. Ruth & Malc’s Top Tips, “On The Edge” 1997, May, p. 68-71
Dave Pegg, Speak Scottish, “Climbing” 1996, No. 162, p. 148-151
Interview by Adrian Berry: http://www.planetfear.com/article_detail.asp?a_id=77
Interview by Daniel Vecchiato & Mike Gray: http://www.freakclimbing.com/modules.php?name=People&rop=showcontent&pid=18