Monday, September 30, 2013

Rec Team Trip to Joe's...Part 1

Here is part one of the Rec's team trip to Joes, unfortunately I am still learning names so help me fill in the blank. Both Andrew and Taylor said the team had a great time, share your story here, what was the best part?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Competition Team in Joe's Valley...

Here are some pictures of our Adventures in Joe's Valley this past weekend. Thanks to everyone who made it possible, and a congrats to the kids who climbed so hard and did a great job. You guys are awesome!

 Rachel on "One Move" V1

Zach on "Small One" V2

 Zach on  "One Move" V1

 Annie loving life and climbing Joe's...

Mckinley on "Small One" V2

Tasia on "One Move" V1

Danny on "One Move" V1

Eva on "One Move" V1

Eva on "Small One" V2

Clara on "One Move" V1

McKinley on "Small One" V2

Coach Tyle on "Runt" V7

Cami on "Runt" V7

Clara on "Runt" V7

Adam, Rachel, and Zach having a great time.

Annie on V4, I think the name is Wretch

Adam figuring out the beta

Camin on V4

Clara on V4

Tasia on V4

Rachel and Zach hanging out...

McKinley on V4


Liz and Annie

Cali is King of the Rock

Tasia on V4

Monday, September 16, 2013


            This could be the hardest post for me to write to date. Seeing as this month our focus is on mental training I knew I wanted to discuss self-awareness. Self-aware is not exactly how I would describe myself. When a person is self-aware they tend to think about what they are thinking and act instead of re-act. I always re-act, you could look at me funny and I would be distraught and angry with you the rest of the day, even if your strange look was attributed to the sneeze you were fighting back. Some people would describe this as being sensitive, perhaps that is part of it, but the other part is not being aware of my self enough to realize that a dirty look is no reflection on my awesomeness.
            Earlier this week I wondered how someone who struggled with self-awareness so much could possibly depart knowledge on the subject to other people. I decided to seek other peoples opinions by posing the following question to my Facebook friends, “Pop Quiz Everyone, What do you think it means to be self aware?” I only got one response. I decided that either no one really cared about my question or no one really had a clue what it meant to be self-aware. Just FYI the one response I got was from my aunt and was rather insightful, she said, “How you see yourself as a person. The good and bad and what you can do to improve who you are. Great book to read, leadership and self deception”. I have yet to find this book, but look forward to reading it when I do.
            At this point I was getting a little worried, I had nothing to write about. I new that I wasn’t terribly self-aware as a person and that it possibly had to do with how I perceive my actions and myself. Next stop Google, I was sure someone out there had to have a clear picture of being self-aware.  Searching for self-awareness online results in 1,000 advertisements for self-help programs to aid you increased self-awareness. I found it strange that none of these companies seemed to have a clear definition of what it was to be self-aware, but whatever it was they could definitely help you improve it. At the top of all these advertisements was my favorite source of new knowledge, Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines self-awareness as the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Introspection is examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings. I decided if I wanted to be more self-aware I needed to analyze my thoughts on a more regular basis. I decided that I would write down my thoughts and what I thought about them on regular intervals during the day. This social or personal experiment lasted less than four hours and didn’t really help me analyze my thoughts or re-act less often. I would write down how and why I was angry and become angrier.
I do believe that to become self-aware we need to analyze our thoughts on a regular basis and handle them in a positive none re-active way. I also know that this is very important for climbing. When you become scared, nervous, or frightened on a climb, you need the ability to step away mentally from the situation and analyze it. Perhaps, the thought you are having has to do with the certainty of falling or getting injured. The normal reaction to this type of scenario, at least for me, is tears and frustration. Being more self-aware means to analyze these thoughts of fear and determine if they are actually valid? Generally, the fear that I might fall is valid, I am learning to climb and thus I will make mistakes and that will result in a fall. However, I prepare and climb routes that will have safe falls or I take at bolts and calm myself and prepare physically before going on. Therefore, the fear that I am going to get seriously injured is not valid and I should let it go so that I can focus on the goal at hand. What thoughts do you have when climbing that deter you from the goal at hand, and how can you analyze them in the future instead of just reacting?

Climb On,

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

Moving Pass Our Central Governor

Last week we talked about the Central Governor Model for explaining fatigue. With the Central Governor Model the “brain acts as a central governor when exercising, limiting our ability to push beyond perceived fatigue to ensure self-preservation.” Today I want to share a couple techniques or training tools that allow us to push pass our perceived point of fatigue.  In order to climb hard and become strong we need to push ourselves pass our perceived limit and exit our comfort zones. First, we can train ourselves physically so that we can go harder and further before we get the quit signals from our brain. Once we get those signals we can use our will power to continue moving, even when it becomes uncomfortable.
In the book Maximum Climbing by Eric J. Horst he describes a few training tools to grow ourselves physically so that we have a greater threshold for physical discomfort. I will provide a summary of a couple of his techniques here. For more information members of the team are welcome to borrow my copy of Maximum Climbing or refer to another book by Horst called Training for Climbing. (There is also plenty of information to be had on the Internet.)

Climbing Intervals:

One of the best ways to climb intervals is using a pyramid scheme that Horst came up with himself. You start by climbing for one minute, work on difficult terrain but do not burn out before the minute is out. Then you will rest for one minute before your next burn, which will last for two minutes, during this interval you can pause and shake out on the rock, but do not spend a lot of time resting. You should be on the wall for the full two minutes. Now take a two-minute rest, if you aren’t feeling the burn, up the difficulty of the terrain. Once you are rested start a three-minute climbing interval followed by a three-minute rest. You are probably aching now, but you are not done, you need to do one last four-minute burn before you call it quits. This training regime is nice because it is very specific to climbing and mimics an environment where you are climbing fatigued. This would prepare you for multi-pitch climbing or a long day of routes.  If you are just looking to improve over-all aerobic fitness and conditioning, you can also run intervals, which are discussed a little below.

Running Intervals:

            The most basic form of running intervals is to simply alternate between intervals of fast and slow speeds. The easiest place to set up this type of training up is on a track. Chances are you local high school has one. Set out to run an accumulative distance of two miles, alternating between fast and slow laps, on a track this would be a total of eight laps. On your fast laps you should be running at about 80 to 90 percent of your maximum speed. Jog the slow laps. If at first you need to walk the slower laps that is fine, try and jog as much as possible.

            Another way we can overcome our Central Governor is by pushing back. This is called Will Power, or the control we exercise over ourselves. This is what we do when our Central Governor start to send us quitting signals. Going, when we hurt is difficult but it is the only way we get stronger. We have to make the decision and then execute our resolution. Here are a couple tricks I use to keep myself going when the going gets tough.

·      Set a timer. Chances are you can do anything for some amount of time. Set your watch for one minute or set it for five and don’t stop until that timer goes off. This can also be done with music, decide not to stop until a song is over. Then take a break and repeat.

·      Pick a spot on the wall or on the mountain. Choose a landmark and don’t stop moving until you reach it, whether it is a boulder on the side of a trail or a hold on a climb, keep moving until you hit that point and then rest. However, continue to be safe, if pushing to the next hold could result in a dangerous fall don’t do it. The point is to overcome our Central Governor not to injure ourselves.

·      This one is a little OCD of me, but count. Decide that you will do five more moves or 50 more steps and count them. This allows you to move forward and push through the pain. Also focusing on the numbers helps distract your brain from you achy muscles.

Hopefully, this helps you and your training. I am happy to answer questions that you might have on this material, I am not an expert but I love sharing the knowledge I do have. I also love to learn from you; so if you have time, share your thoughts in the comments below on the ways you train to increase your strength and discomfort threshold. Also, what are you tricks for increasing your will power or applying it? See you next week!

Climb On,


"Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile."
Brian Tracy

Image From:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Slow Down, but Don't Stop

Have you ever been climbing, and ¾ of the way up the route decide you can’t finish? Or maybe you aren’t even that far, maybe after a couple of moves you are feeling fatigued and like you can’t possibly stick one more move? What if I told you that the belief that you must stop, is actually just a signal from your brain that you need to slow down? You have the energy, stamina, and power to continue, just at a slower pace.  Would you believe me?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you said no.  Only recently popular science would have agreed with me. For many years, the Cardiovascular/Anaerobic Model has been held as the gold standard for explaining exercise induced fatigue and the cause of performance limitations. This model states that fatigue is an involuntary drop in performance caused by a loss of homeostasis.1  Homeostasis is defined as the ability of the body to maintain a condition of stability within, while dealing with external changes.2 A simple example of this is sweating. When our internal temperature rises either do to exercise or to a rise in ambient temperature, our body begins to sweat to remove the heat and maintain our internal temperature.
During exercise, a shift away from homeostasis is caused by a loss of energy stores in the muscles, a rise in blood lactate levels, or reaching maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max). These and many other factors cause our stable internal environment to be lost, resulting in fatigue and the need to stop climbing/exercising in order to restore homeostasis. This model tells us that as climbers, hikers, or what have you, that once we reach our max, where our bodies are screaming that they are done and our mind says we must not go on, that we are simply finished and must stop. I find this very hard to believe, based on multiple personal experiences I will share just one example here.
            Last weekend I went with the Utah Climbing Club to climb Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It was my first time climbing something so high, climbing a multi-pitch, and climbing crack. Really, I am amazed I even decided to go. I struggled through pitches one and two, having not practiced crack climbing prior I was climbing very inefficiently and expending a lot of unnecessary energy, in other words I was becoming fatigued fast. When I was on the third pitch almost ¾ of the way done with the climb my energy felt like it was completely spent and I was thinking lots of negative thoughts like, “There is no way I am finishing this, I am done, how am I going to get off this wall, what was I thinking”.   Despite all the negative self talk, I started to focus on my breath and calmed down a little bit.  I then started studying the rock and the route and realized that I was so close to the top, and that finishing would not require too much effort. Now I am certain that if my desire to quit was caused 100% by muscle fatigue I would still be hanging off the side of that tower. However, research has shown that there is a mental aspect to physical fatigue.3
The Central Governor Model (CGM) is rapidly gaining support in the academic world of sports psychology. The CGM was proposed by Dr. Tim Noakes and claims that our “brain acts as a central governor when exercising, limiting our ability to push beyond perceived fatigue to ensure self-preservation.”3 Fatigue in this case is a sensation sent by the unconscious mind to the conscious mind to prevent loss of homeostasis and complete exhaustion.3  So what you feel during a strenuous activity is actually the brain sending a message to slow down so as to avoid serious injury or death.”3 When determining if the body has reached fatigue the mind/central governor takes into account feedback from the muscles and heart, external stimuli, knowledge of ongoing results, and past experience to determine if you are going to far. However, our mind has a tendency to throw in the towel early and be overly cautious. With a little bit of will power and proper training we can push ourselves past the perceived threshold our mind places on our potential. There are several training techniques that will allow you to do this. I will cover some of them in next weeks post along with references to find more.

"If you want to climb it badly enough, you will. So... why bother?'
Dough Scott


3.     Maximum Climbing by Eric J. Horst