Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Using Injuries

Over the last few years, I have made most, if not all of my significant gains during peiods of injury.

It all started with a really bad pulley injury in my right hand, which meant that I could no longer hold small or marginal holds, except under very controlled situations . At the time I didn't see it as an opportunity to get stronger. Instead it seemd like my tiny little world was over, what with an upcoming trip to Font planned and the winter fun bouldering comps coming up.

A session at the wall, injured, unable to attempt any of the problems that I normally used as my benchmark would go like this.


  1. Warm up on the easiest of the Alien V1s and some easy climbing about.
  2. Gentle hangs on the campus-board using open, half-crimped, full crimped and bi-doigt grips.
  3. Campusing using the four above mentioned grips (if everything was feeling ok).
  4. Light stretching.
  5. Session over.

I came out from the end of this training, heading to font and getting some long-overdue projects laid to rest and all because I had started training with different grip positions, which I knew had been a weakness for many years (I couldn't close-crimp for toffee).

I guess that what I'm trying to get at is that if you want to improve in some specific way, then you should just go ahead and train for it and not let the distraction of the brightly coloured problems get in your way. This is easier said than done, but if you aren't improving from year to year, then you need to make some changes now, rather than wait for the next injury to provide you with the opportunity.

Friday, 5 September 2008

The Scene

Being a climber based in Edinburgh can be both good and bad at times

Firstly, there is very little rock to play on after work, which drives a great many of us indoors.

Secondly, Edinburgh has probably got the strongest indoor scene this side of Sheffield and by “strong” I don’t just mean the exceptionally large number of keen participants, but the shear number of very strong punters. This can be a good thing, as there always tends to be motivated people climbing around or above your level when you go to the wall, (at Alien anyway) which can certainly help with motivation levels.

For me however this causes problems, as a year or so ago, if I was feeling weak and crap, then I would go down to Alien2 and burn a load of people off, which would immediately make me feel a whole lot better. The problem now is that this strategy no longer works. Any time I have visited the wall recently, I have left feeling significantly worse than when I went in.

What appears to have happened, is that a very large number of climbers have gotten a lot better and by "a lot better", I mean they are now at pretty much the same level as the strongest climbers on the local scene.

This makes Alien2 a very hard place for a strong outsider to come to, as they will almost certainly get shut down (new angles, new holds, strong locals etc.). This rarely happens elsewhere. When I have been to the other walls in Scotland, I haven't had this problem. Nor do I find that I have had this problem with a lot of the walls in Englandshire. The only reason, however that I have not had a hard time in Sheffield is because it has been good weather when I have gone their to train and I’m the only idiot indoors.

All of the above makes Edinburgh a pretty unique place to train and live and I feel that Alien Rock has been pivotal in creating such a strong and friendly indoor scene.

For the future, I have no idea. At the moment there must be over 20 guys down A2 that are physically capable of doing a Font 8a. The problem being, that many of them will never get out there and actually do one. The other problem is that without the top few guys improving, we end up with a natural ceiling that people aim for and until some seriously strong youths emerge on the scene or someone has a serious breakthrough, this will be the case.