05 May 2012

Until I can do more of this...

I'll be contenting myself with a bunch of this...

....a little StairMaster, and some of this...

Except maybe not that fast...

I've received a few questions about my latest method of cross-training. Below are some answers.

Why am I climbing?

I decided to take that "Do something everyday that scares you" thing to heart. Climbing scares the crap out of me. First of all, you go up really while high clinging to the face of a wall. Secondly, if you have trust issues (like I do) you need to get over it because you are relying on someone to make sure you are safe. Sometimes putting psychological things into a physical framework helps me to work through them.  I'm not ready to do this outside on 'real' rocks. Maybe I'll try that when the inside kind no longer scares me :) In the meantime, it's proving to be an amazing core workout and is also greatly increasing my upper body strength.

How does one climb?

There are basically two ways...roped climbing and bouldering. 
  • bouldering – you aren't going up higher than roughly 15 feet and so aren't roped onto anything. If you fall (or jump) you land on thick, soft mats. 
  • roped climbing – you're going up higher and would get really, really hurt if you were to fall, so you are attached to the wall by ropes set up in a belay system. There is top rope climbing in which the rope is anchored at the top of the climbing route and there is lead climbing wherein the rope is not anchored but is attached to the climber and clipped through intermediate points of protection as the climber proceeds up the face of the wall.
Both types of climbing utilize a series of different types of handholds and footholds. These range widely in terms of ease of use. Click here to see a photo chart of different handholds and how they are used. That link provides some great general climbing info for the uninitiated.

I seem to prefer big jug holds (plentiful in easier routes) where I can grab on and try to haul myself up the face of the rock, completely spending my lame, weak arms and shoulders super quickly.

loathe the smooth 'holds' that one is supposed to use more for bracing and pressing and gaining leverage. They demand proper technique.

click the source link to see other even more difficult slopers

My objective now is to work those smoothies (called slopers) until I love them. Initially, I hated rock overhangs and 'ceilings', but I told my instructor to work me on those. Now I don't exactly love them, but I can do them and do not ever shy away from them...until the end of the climbing session when I can scarcely tie and untie my rope :P I want to achieve this comfort-level with slopers.

What do the numbers mean? When you say 10a or 10b, what do you mean?

I like this site's explanation of the system most widely used in the U.S. It provides this helpful quote... 

  • Class 1: you fall, you're stupid.
  • Class 2: you fall, you break your arm.
  • Class 3: you fall, you break your leg.
  • Class 4: you fall, you are almost dead (i.e., you can't breath and move your arms, legs, and head).
  • Class 5: you fall, you are dead.   
The routes I've been climbing are rated 5.x with the 5 part indicating the class as stated immediately above. The x is the 10a or 10b part...or what have you. Scroll down a little further on the above link to see an explanation of the class 5 subdivisions. Size of holds, types of holds, scarcity of holds all come into play in the rating.

Right now I am able to complete 5.10b routes consistently. I've done one 10c and it was unbelievably challenging for me. The jump from 10b to 10c felt huge. Part of this has to do with my lack of upper body strength and my impatience regarding proper form and technique. 

What do I like about climbing?

I enjoy pushing the envelope. Climbing is unlike anything I've ever done before. So much attention and focus is required while simultaneously taxing one's physical limits and being forced to trust another individual to completely have your back ...or rope. Forget total body workout...climbing is a total being workout! Every facet of you must be engaged regardless of the end of the rope to which you are attached. I love the complete and utter absorption while on the wall or belaying someone on the wall. I do my crowd-scoping between climbs ;-)

Right now I am climbing with a partner twice a week for approximately 2 hours each time. It provides a nice break from the cardio load I'm working on presently while also serving as a bit of a strength-and-core building. And it is healing. In fact, I'll probably keep doing it even when I am able to again do more of this...

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend :)


  1. Get it girl! I love the diversity in your training right now! It WILL make you a stronger runner!

    See you soon lovely!

  2. It's very cool you found something so challenging to keep you in shape and engaged while working through your hip issue. It really sounds like fun.

    BTW, thought of you today when I put the Yankz laces you sent for JBH 2011 in my new shoes. Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for the climbing lessons. I used to go to a gym with a climbing wall and I thought it was so much fun, but I have not done it since then.

  4. Holy shit times 3. I had no idea it was humanly possible to go vertical that fast. What was just as amazing was those to guys going the exact same speed looking like carbon copies of each other. Hope you don't abandon the running world for climbing when you're no longer injured.

  5. I think the time is drawing near when I will no longer be able to read your blog while lounging on the couch! (as if the five minutes on the elliptical while I read it would be monumental!)

  6. Thanks for sharing more info on climbing. I've never done it, but can see how it would work "everything".

  7. I really like climbing, too--I got really into it on an indoor wall when I still lived in Houston years ago. Ironically, not that I'm in Boulder, where climbing is as popular as running or skiing, I haven't done any. That's what having kids does!

  8. As you know, my son is a huge climber and he and his friends will spend hours at the indoor climbing wall....but what they LOVE is climbing the real stuff. Scares the crap out of me as a mom. But it's an incredible upper body workout and you're going to keep in great shape!! Maybe you can come to Colorado in the winter and go ice climbing with my boys?!? :)

  9. Love climbing (outdoors), although I haven't done much in recent years. Still have all my gear. Would love to join you sometime!

  10. Climbing scares the bojangels out of me. OMG you are so brave. I remember trying to climb over 10 years ago to try to impress a boy and literally, I have never been so scared in my life! (I will NEVER climb anything to impress any boy, ever again!)

  11. One of my coworkers is really into climbing, but more the outside stuff. I kind of want to try but definitely inside with lots ropes! I'm a scaredy cat.

    The ones I think are really crazy are the free climbers. I have no desire to be that close to death if I make one small mistake.

  12. I hold my boot camp at a kids bouncy house facility and there is a lateral rock wall. My bootcampers always think the rock wall looks easy...until their 2nd or 3rd time through and then they can never make it all the way across - it gets SO hard!

  13. You make climbing look and sound so appealing...I know firsthand how intense of a workout it is...I actually rock climbed once with a school "project adventure" group...all about trust/ cooperating yada yada...However, the trust issue is HUGE with climbing so I totally agree with you there! You work your entire body in ways you can't even imagine...especially when your scared shitless and hanging on to those "holds" for dear life!

    I also enjoyed climbing the horizontal ties where you had to work with a partner to climb up one rung at a time (about 3 ft apart) by using each other's body to get there...Once fianlly on the top...I felt so proud of myself...that is until I freaked out about how I was getting down...apparently I had forgotten how deathly afraid of heights I was ;)

    Keep it up!!! I take it this is not aggravating your hip at all? Just curious...

  14. What a fun choice for crosstraining. Def a total body workout!

  15. that looks like an amazingly fun time!

  16. Wait, did you make the Nuun shirt???

    1. I made it last year, hoping I could wear it instead of a reflective vest...the N is reflective and there is a reflective strip across the back, too. Sadly, it didn't past inspection :(

  17. I love reading about your climbing adventures! The leap from 10b to 10c was huuuuuuuge for me (as was the leap from 5.9 to 10a -- 10a to 10b seemed smaller, though). I still can't do 10c routes consistently and I've been climbing (albeit sporadically) for more than four years now. One thing I love about climbing is learning what my strengths and weaknesses are -- I love jug holds and corners and slabby climbs, hate overhangs and the sloping ones that look like half turtle shells. So much to learn and work on!

  18. I'm so impressed that you are climbing! I've tried it a few times and was SO sore after, and I disregarded the routes/difficulty rating because it was so hard and just was happy to make it to the top. But this post makes me what to give it another try, such great descriptions.

  19. Wow this is awesome!! how inspirational!! I haven't heard anyone talk about climbing before. Very cool


we *heart* comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...