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Climbing / School / Principles of Planning Your Climbing Year

Principles of Planning Your Climbing Year

by Katherine Schirrmacher
The jargon-free realistic principles of organising your climbing year

Before you begin periodising, capillary training, campusing, deadhanging or thinking about how much your one rep max weight should be, there are some basic ways to think about how to plan your year without having to open text books and dictionaries to understand the nuts and bolts of training.

Have you ever planned your climbing year before? Do you often find yourself 2 weeks before a dream climbing trip to the Gorge de Tarn snowed under with work and completely unfit? Did you actually know in advance that work would be so busy then? Did you have a goal of climbing E2 but realised that you were only ever going trad climbing for one weekend out of 4 so it never happened and you’re worse than the year before?

Now is a good time, before you become clouded by mince pies and never ending supplies of Roses chocolates in the office, to have a think about 2007, to try and plan ahead to make the best use of your time.

· List your ambitions for 2007– be realistic – it is better to over achieve and surprise yourself rather than setting goals where you will only end up disappointed. For example if you did 10 E3s last year pushing E4 is realistic, E5 might be an ideal fluffy goal, but could happen – don’t pin everything on doing this. If you want to do 8a but have done few of the grade below you will have to gear maybe a third of your year (including training as well as time on the route) entirely to that one route.

· Are your ambitions dry and in condition the whole year round? If it’s a British limestone route, or a Lake District mountain route there will only be key times when you can do this route.

· List the holidays you want to peak for.

· List the busy periods when you won’t be able to climb e.g. 3 weddings on all the weekends in July, heavy periods of work

· Think about times when you will be able to train (e.g. January and February) at the wall/gym and times you know you won’t be able to (over Christmas or in July when you can’t face not going out in beautiful warm weather).

· One other thing – taking a rest period is good. Some top climbers will have up to a month off every year. Christmas is a good time.

Key pointers:

· You will get about 4 climbing peaks during the year (periods when you are climbing well), which should last about 2 months for each one. In no other sports do athletes find themselves running their best times every time they race. It doesn’t happen in climbing either.

· You will find that you need rest in between your ‘peaks’. So when you start to plateau out, why not take a week off or change what you are doing.

· Just before athletes perform an important race they taper off. This is the same for climbing. If you are going away on a month long trip, taper off in the 2 weeks leading up to it, same for a big route at the weekend – don’t climb for 2 days before.

· The longer and slower the build up, the longer the peak

· The key to improving is to shock your system and change what you do (routes/bouldering). They say that every 4 weeks is about right. This is fine on paper and ok if you don’t have a job – really hard to do if you have a normal life with loads going on, but worth bearing in mind, particularly though the winter wall season

· There are 3 training phases: power, power endurance and endurance. A combination of all 3 work together to get you up your aims. These can be broken down into 4 week phases as above.

My plan for the next 6 months…

Below you can see a plan of my climbing over the next few months. My work (climbing coaching) is flexible and I have it organised now so that I can start to plan ahead. I am trying to be realistic when I can train and when I will rest. The orange part is when I plan to be peaking. March and April are very busy months for me work wise and I have my mountain leader assessment. When it gets to these months I will have to be careful to plan the whole month ahead well. So within the first 6 months of the year I have identified two times when I am hoping to climb well. These coincide with a climbing trip and when the weather gets good in April and May. Simple… let’s see if it works – at least I am better off planning now than not at all and hoping it all comes together somehow.

Once you have decided your plan for the year, you can now go ahead and plan what you are going to do within each phase e.g. December power training, March/April routes training…

DecemberBouldering Training (power) – being careful not to totally over do it so I’m wrecked… JanuaryFirst half taper off. Travel to Hueco, USA (bouldering trip) Jan/FebMonth climbing in Hueco2nd half of Feb rest period – including a whole week off to recover

MarchWorking first half of March and doing Mountain Leader assessment so need to fit in walking practice. Switch to routes to shock my system & start aiming for spring routes season AprilWorking and have a hen do followed by a wedding. Won’t have big aims this month. Building up on routes indoors and out when I can – will have to plan well this month May/JuneStart ticking some hard power endurance sport routes (where the winter bouldering kicks in with the routes training)… of course…!