Thursday, 24 March 2011

Reach Expands into Spain

 Mark McGowan has been expanding the coaching network into Spain over the last month and soon we will be offering bespoke coaching trips from UK to Spanish Stone, where Mark will tour and coach with members around the various fantastic climbing areas of Catalonia.
Neil McGeachy (Head of Youth Coaching) will head up the UK operations for 1:1 and team events.

To make inquiries for Spainish Stone coaching then contact us on:

Friday, 18 March 2011

Finding the flow in climbing...Spain.

Calum Forsyth sending Colera (7b), Futbolin
I'm out with the other coaches to get some routes in and get organised for our coaching week in April.

The main thing we are all in search of at the moment is that 'flow' where your training style is left behind and morphs into a climbing style for rock.

It has taken us into the last few days of the first week to get the nerves out the system and start trying to flash and on sight at our limit.

The beginning of the 2nd week has been more about pushing a little harder in terms of getting more volume and finding a mutually effective team dynamic that brings the best out in us collectively.

As a group, Team Scotland has set out a new support strategy to drive our mutual performance and it will be interesting to see if our tactics deliver additional value.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Using 'systems' to increase bouldering standard


Bouldering is, I feel, about improving and honing your climbing skills at a macro level in areas such as contact strength, dynamic awareness, footwork, body positioning, technical analysis of how to work out a my view, it is less about actual improvements in strength (though they are obviously there) and more about skills and muscle memory.

In my view systems training breaks bigger strength plateaus and bouldering is not the fastest way to getting strong; training for strength is. Obvious, yet many boulder for strength?

Strength training is about maximal slow movement in a controlled environment which is later converted to power through such things as bouldering, plyometrics etc.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Educating your body to climb harder and pushing through a plateau...

This is one of the most difficult elements of sport and training and the reason for that is simple to me:

It is difficult...

Finding ways to shock your body into change from where it is, to where you are trying to take it, can be confusing but I suppose the simple aim is to teach it what you want it to do:

If you want it to climb 8a, then you must introduce it to 8a... If not, your body (& mind) cant really prepare for the intensity and this shock to the system begins to shut down your normal skills and strengths that have seen you in good stead on 7b+. It's the same in training...

Training for 8a from 7b+ requires more than one training push and various steps/plateaus have to be over come. To change  like this, you need to introduce change that can position you for the next step in being capable of accepting the next level of training.

When I was training to climb 8a again, I new I had to get my body and mind to variouse levels that were not performance inclines but steps and plataeus that needed to be broken and stepped up to. To get from 7b+ to 8a there are probably 3 key phases:

  1. Increasing core finger strength from a capacity to do v4 to v7
  2. Increasing capacity to recover on F6c/F7a (route dependant) by driving endurance
  3. Increasing Power Endurance to cope with going from F7a ground into font 6c to finsih on F7b ground. Thats an 8a!
The body struggles more to maintain a capacity to climb hard sequences in the middle or at the end of a route. Having the capacity to power up and deliver a power endurance sequence then recover on route and fininsh up a pumpy 7b wall is so much harder than firing out a harder 5 move PE blast ground up.

You need to educate your body that it can climb 7b in a mildy pumped state after powering up on a lower section. You need to educate your body that it can recover from the initial 7a entry wall and power up into a bloc crux sequence and how different it feels from doing it at ground level. You need to educate your mind to climb the route in managable sections (or even moves) maintaining a concentrated high level of effort to maintain success for the whole route.

Sometimes to break through a plataeu, you have to be radical to make that step up. I recall last year going onto Requiem in the morning ( a spooky hanging crack line) then driving 90 miles up to Glen Coe that afternoon then walking up to Fated Path in the evening to try and get myself to relax above gear and bolts again.

I had been struggling  badly to climb relaxed above gear and after that day of scary exposure to an E8 6b and a big hanging 7c+ wall, I suitablably shocked myself into relaxing above the gear again. But it was a difficult task with my head wondering what the hell I was doing to myself, trying to get up Requiem in the morning then fininshing with an evening attempt above the bolts on a spooky hanging wall in Glen Coe... It worked and I found myself moving more freely above gear in slightly less daunting environments... shocking? not really...Difficult? Definately...

Will & I on Requiem (E8 6b, 8a+) at Dumbarton Rock in the morning
(Photo: Ben Lister)

Me working Fated Path (7c+) in the early evening in Glencoe
(Photo Graham Harrison)

Referrals from clients:

"...This training season I decided to get all the help I can to speed up my improvement. I needed guidance to work towards my goals in long term. I also needed more vision and opinions about my exercises and weak links. I am glad I can share my training with Mark..." (Ville Mustonen, Finland)

" I met Mark in Glen Nevis on his return to climbing to check out some lines he had in mind for me, I wasn't really training at this point but after a day or two talking and training with him I had a much more structured idea of what to do to improve and I did" (Kev Shields)