Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Having your period!

FA Super Furry Animals on Gozo Island

Periodization or working to a 'peak' is something that most climbers
who maybe aren't progressing as well as they would like, tend not to
engage properly in.

Its a strategic approach and therefore tactics and results aren't
always obvious nor instant.

It is not really about the chosen moment or exact timing of the 'peak'
that makes the big difference in performance. It's obviously the
training that has gone before and wither one has sacraficed weekly,
monthly or quarterly performance for the sake of THE chosen peak

Training over the top of everything (even other training - Dual Factor
Theory) is a tough environment to stay in for a substantial time. 1
month/ 30 days, 3 months/90 days, 6 months/180 days.
Every day some part of your body is being worked while other parts are
in pain recovering. Its hard and that's why few really do it.

Training in a periodized environment is just training in a focused way
that maximises the time , to get the biggest benefits from the
application of processes that are in a particular order culminating in
a volume taper against an increase in intensity and finally a peak.
Eg for me the order is:
1. Strength training
2. Power
3. Power Endurance

But it's this stuff which I think builds the improvement through focus
and consistancy and develops increased performance.
Others may mix and intertwine their strength with power with PE but I
mostly prefer to isolate.

Rest and recovery is obviously a key part of a strategic training
environment and is one of the hardest parts to manage due to the urge
to keep training instead of recovering to a physical peak state...

Monday, 12 March 2012


Scotland North-West:

We will spend a week climbing sea cliffs in the north-west which may include Reiff, Rhue,Sheigra .
Mountain scrambles or multi -pitch climbs at Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor,or Cul Beag
Bouldering at Rhue, Ardmair, Reiff
the list is endless!

This course will run from mon 2nd of July until fri 6th of July.
Four days climbing ,coaching and instruction .
One day rest/bad weather day.

Photo: James Dunn


This course will mainly focus on traditional climbing.
Gear placements
Building belays
Leading and seconding trad routes.
Manageing risk.
Onsight tactics.
Technique on rock
Route reading
Long term development pathway.
with additional options for scrambling, multi-pitch,bouldering,gorge walking and hill-walking.

This course will be delievered by Pamela Millar who is a Mountain Instructor ,loves climbing big remote mountain routes or multi-pitch sea cliff climbing.During the winter Pamela spends her time climbing Scottish mix and ice climbing .
Neil McGeachy - National team coach & passionate Scottish Trad Climber will be on hand to offer tip and techniques on performance on the sharp end.

Spaces for 8 kids (with a parent/gardian)
Price  :    £150 per child
Ratio 1:4
Equipment required.... harness, rock shoes, chalk, helmet, waterproofs(jacket +trousers), walking boots or shoes,warm clothes ,sun tan lotion, midge repellent.

Friday, 9 March 2012

The MCofS and ReAch Climbing Coach: Fontainebleau Bouldering October 15th – 19th 2012

Cost £150

The MCofS and ReAch Climbing Coaching are arranging a youth coaching event in Fontainebleau, one of the worlds most popular bouldering destinations. This will be from October 15th-19th (during the Scottish School Holiday) and is being organised and delivered by Neill Busby, Mark McGowan and Gaz Vincent.

The Fontainebleau bouldering meet is being supported by the MCofS by providing elite coaches for the 4 days of coaching during the 5 day event. The cost to cover coaching is £150 per child - £37.50/day.

Our aim is to introduce participants to the best bouldering that Fontainebleau has to offer. Each day our coaches will run workshops on various techniques and tactics needed to climb on the famous sandstone boulders. Our other aim is to provide coaching and advice to parents to encourage more independence to get outside more. We expect all the adults / parents to take an active role in the event, coaches will help parents understand etiquette and safety issues at crags where their children will be climbing.

Parent / Coach Responsibility:
Whilst on the meet, the coaches are responsible for the safety of the kids (and you!) when being coached at the crag (or its approach). At all other times you are responsible for your own and your child’s safety and wellbeing, as well as their behaviour.

Booking Your Place:
If you are interested please send the attached application form to MCofS either via email (to: or by post, to book your place. Can you please indicate your method of payment.

Once we have the minimum numbers required to make the event viable we shall notify you and confirm the meet will go ahead you will be able to book flights and accommodation.

Please fill in the attached Consent Form and return by email to me. If you have already completed and sent in a MCofS Consent Form there is no need to complete another one, but please indicate on the application form any changes that might be required.

Please note:
  • Applications must be sent back only to MCS either by email to, or by post.
  • Payment for the coaching can be made by phone, PayPal or cheque to MCofS.
  • Confirmation will be returned by email (or post) by Jane at MCS office.
  • A Parent (and their child attending the event) must sign a MCofS consent form (please simply insert you names when replying by email and date it). A parent must take responsibility for the child(s) behaviour at all times when not climbing. The coaches are responsible for the child whilst being coached.
  • If someone else is taking responsibility for your child at the event they must be indicated on the form.
  • Climbers need to bring their own personal climbing equipment (rock shoes, chalk bag, harness, belay plate, rope and helmet).
  • General information is contained in the attached Parental Information document.
  • Finally, I draw your attention to the MCofS Code of Conduct expected at our events.


Monday, 5 March 2012

Report on MCofS Coaching Induction

Sunday the 4th March saw Scottish coaches descend on Perth High School for the first MCofS Coaches Gathering & Induction.  The event was attended by coaches, who are active within the varied Scottish Youth Development scene, as well as Area Youth Coordinators.  The ethos of this event was to provide an opportunity for professionals to come together and share ideas, observe coaching techniques & discuss up and coming initiatives the MCofS aim to deliver over the coming months.  The gathering also served as an opportunity to introduce the current 3 tier MCofS Youth Coaching Structure [Aspirant Coach, Assistant Coach & Full Coach], outlining the job descriptions of each post & explaining the pathways [i.e. shadowing & training] in place to progress through the structure.  

The day kicked off with talks from;
  • Tony McClelland [Head of Outdoor Education - Perth High School].  Discussing the story of climbing within the school set up.  Explaining how the came about obtaining such a great climbing facility & how this has grown in to one of the most successful regional climbing development initiatives in Scotland.
  • Neil McGeachy [ReAch Coaching & MCofS Scottish Team Coach].  Discussing the roles of MCofS, its coaches & setters in the development of Scottish Team members.  Also discussing the MCofS Youth Development Ethos of promoting increased pathways in to the outdoors for climbers of all levels and ages.  Aiming to promote varied and active life long futures within the sport for our country's young climbers.
  • Neill Busby [MCofS British Team Representative].  Discussing how MCofS works to help nurture & support our country's elite young climbers.  He talked about coaching support, previous & current success stories & future ambitions.

These talks provided a great over view of how healthy all levels of youth development within Scottish climbing are.  They also illustrated how well these levels serve in supporting each other and provide clear logical support pathways in the climbing journey;  
  • Numbers are up in all Scottish competitions, 
  • Regional youth clubs and performance squads are popping up all over the place, 
  • The school climbing competitions scene is growing massively and beginning to feed the Youth Climbing Series
  • Outdoor Real Rock Initiatives are being better attended than ever
  • We have enjoyed an 8 year period of producing many of the UK's most successful International competitors.  Currently holding 9 slots on the British Junior Climbing Squad.

This continued growth and development means more than ever we need a diverse and extensive pool of MCofS performance coaches to draw from & also require a strategy in place to begin the process of bringing through future coaches & making the whole set up more sustainable long term.  This Gathering & Induction was the beginning of this process.

After the talks the coaches were given time to study the hand outs provided on 'Training guidelines for YCS Finalists'.  These documents offered info on MCofS & ReAch's stance on appropriate training & injury avoidance when coaching young performance climbers.  The day then progressed to a series of short coaching workshops delivered by a selection of assistant coaches & full coaches on the MCofS coaching program.

Coaching Workshops Delivered;
Pamela Miller - Coaching route reading & sequence memory 
Neill Busby - Balance & body positioning on steep ground
Ian Sneddon - Variety of uses of Add on in coaching
Natalie Berry - Competition Tactics
Ross Kirkland - Activities for coaching precise footwork
Ross Hunter - Using video analysis in coaching
Neil McGeachy - Coaching momentum & advance balance techniques

The day rounded up with an opportunity for every one to have a group discussion on the role of coaching within youth development & how we can build on the success the current set up.  All in all today was a great success and as a member of the MCofS coaching team for more than 12 years, it was extremely rewarding to see so many of the aspirants, assistants & coaches in attendance being young climbers who have progressed through the set up as talented climbers themselves.  Thus showing the on going culture of Scottish Climbers putting something back into the development of the sport.  Very exciting times lies ahead.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Chaining 8b : the training journey so far...

Since making my mind up to train hard again towards chaining my 8b ambition this year, I have been focusing the priority on my elbow rehab first in combination with basic weight and fitness conditioning to get me fit enough to take a training pounding over the next 30 weeks or so.

Flexibility and lack of core fitness and strength are my obvious weaknesses as a climber and so I am focusing on these in particluar with stretching every day and working a little harder on core. I am more concerned right now with creating a flexiblity across my body first then i will build a stronger core through both training and climbing on approriately steep rock in coming weeks.  

Most weeks are filled with easy route climbing to keep the head and fingers ticking over while I prepare the other areas and each day is filled with as much inspiration as i can un earth to drive me forward to ocho b...

I took a trip into Spain to visit a great friend and coach for a day in the Spanish Pirineos on a great canyon crag housing an awesome 7b. We used my red point strategies to help provide my friend with more structure in improving her approach to projecting and so we shaped the whole day around that single process of working for a red point instead of just trying something at your limit to see how you get on...

Prepare your day, your mind and your body then you will produce a better performance and ultimately succeed in red pointing the project at your true limit instead of some miss informed percieved limit.

Mi amiga  Sonia using ReAch red point strategy on her 7b proyecto

sonia feliz en su paraĆ­so Pirineos!

Then it was down into Barcelona to meet the cool guys from JM Climbing to discuss the Eva Lopez Transgression and Progression systems to help me train to 8b. Having studied the training strategy I have worked out my plan with the system and it looks like I will opt for the following:

  • A first phase of a  5 week block on Maximal Strength Development
  • 2 week rest
  • second phase of 8 week Strength Endurance phase
  • 2 week rest
  • 8 week Advanced Maximal Strength phase
  • 2 week rest
  • 8 week Advanced Strength Endurance phase

Back over into the Pirineos de Francia

Midnight runs when it's cool in the Pyrenees near Foix

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)