Archive for August, 2012

23 Aug 2012

Olympic Fever

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It has been several months since I last sat down to write one of these, partly due to time but mostly due to a lack of inspiration.

To commit your mind and body to something in a bid to achieve your goal is easy, the realisation and reality however that you have not even come close despite your best efforts is hard.

I think in life everyone needs validation of some kind, something tangible to hold onto to prove that their life, time and efforts have not been in vain.

For me as a competitive climber my validation is results. This season has so far been statistically my worst to date and I am left with overwhelming feelings of frustration, annoyance, disappointment and more critically – a lack of validation.

Anyway despite this I have been distracted recently and taken down hard, like most people, with a severe case of Olympic fever. I was lucky enough to attend a few Olympic events and to see the athletes battling against each other was incredible.

One of the events I went to was the men’s volleyball final courtesy of British Airways and it was a dramatic affair. Their twitter # was #homeadvantage and whilst there was no team GB in the final the Russians certainly looked at home. They came back from two sets and two match points down to win 3-2.

To see the Russians smash the ball past Brazil to win was great and reminded me of the dominance of Dimitry, Rustam and Alexey in bouldering results over recent years. I would love to be in their position one day.

I was really inspired by the whole spectacle and while I could empathise with some aspects of what they must have been going through, I can’t even imagine what the pressure must have been like.

International climbing comps attract a physical crowd of at most a few thousand and online viewers maybe double that? These athletes had the world watching and the weight of entire nations. I don’t care how confident they appeared to be; Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Jess Ennis, Mo Farah…. they were all bricking it.

Sports psychology really interests me and I have read alot on the subject and tried to work on my own approach. I have come to the conclusion that obviously confidence is key, you have to have the belief that you can and will win. The conscious mind is your true enemy and it is all about letting the drilled sub conscious movements and routines take over. This however I have found is easier said than done, particularly in a sport where the physical challenge changes at each event.

A hundred metre runner goes into an event knowing; he can run 100m. He knows his best time, his best time this year, his time in the last race and all the same information for his competition. In my opinion confidence with this information is easy to assimilate.

In climbing the walls, holds, moves, angles, styles etc change in every event and whilst you know you are capable of completing them, your strengths and weaknesses are tested in every event. You must be a master of all to succeed – it is therefore very difficult to be truly ‘confident’.

I have digressed slightly and I’m not sure what point I am trying to make, apart from I think climbing is hard. So hard that it baffles me that climbing is not an Olympic event. It is surely the one elemental sport missing from their portfolio, ‘Higher, faster, stronger’ is the Olympic motto, what encapsulates this more than climbing?

Sport climbing is on the shortlist for consideration in the 2020 games and with the decision being made in 2013 these are exciting times. A person much better at writing than me has written some thoughts on the subject in an article below, it is well worth a read if you are interested.

I have been reinvigorated psychologically and I have been trying to harness this feeling in my training. I have come to the conclusion that even if my competitive days are over I will do everything I can to be part of team GB if we are selected for 2020.

So enough about the past and future, here is some info on what has actually been going on recently.

I am getting ready to compete in my last event of the season which is the World Championships in Paris. As always I am nervous about the event and have feelings of uncertainty about my form. I know this is the worst frame of mind to be in but it is a difficult cycle to break, particularly when training alone with no one to benchmark against.

It is in a few weeks time and in preparation I’ve been working through a short training phase plan targeting my weaknesses. I have been training free weights and steep board climbing and I do feel strong and appear to be climbing well. Over the next two weeks I will be swapping to short CV sessions, campussing and power endurance boulders. Hopefully I will then feel nice and light for the comp.

The field is strong and deeper than it has ever been, but that is fine. If you are going to compete, do it against the best there is. I don’t care what my result in Paris is as long as I feel good and climb well. Possible validation awaits….