Finally the thaw came. Which is a necessary thing, if its quickly followed by the re-freeze then it'll be an excellent thing. Of course its just as likely to go the other way and get even warmer. The knife edge between an amazing and a typical 21st century season.
While its been a rubbish week for climbing for me its been a good one for training.
First The Foundry Centre put up their dry tooling routes (see my previous blog). Theres a couple of films here http://foundryclimbing.blogspot.com/ which whilst not the most riveting clips they do give a better idea of what in store.
Secondly I received a pair of the Alpkit Figfours, the "rubber-bandy-dry-tool-training-axes". I'll post more when I've had more of a chance to train with them.
Thirdly Ive been getting back properly into my running. My friend Matt has been dragging me out (for an hour fifty today!). I think running may well do my climbing more good than any climbing training as it works away at my biggest weakness - my belly!
Finally I tried out a new variation on the 30 minute pull-up challenge. The inspiration came from a chat with Neil Gresham. Neil has that ability that properly good coaches have of being able see through to the heart of an issue without being deflected by seductive options which don't do the job fully. The key thing that Neil pointed out is that you don't fall off winter routes by failing to do a pull up. You almost always lob off because you can't hold onto your axes anymore.
So the new variation for the 30 minute workout which I tried tonight involves much longer sets. Instead of the 10 seconds of pullups and then 50 second rest, I tried 3 minutes on 3 minutes off. During that 3 minutes I concentrated on getting a big pump on but still holding on to my axes. To do this I have to use alot of assistance - all very high-tech - a chair to prop my foot on. Trying to avoid another of the pitfalls of the original pull-up regime with its pure repetition which risks over-use injuries, I put in a variety of exercises. For instance 10 seconds of free hanging pullups, then 20 seconds of alternating one handed deadhangs (foot on chair), then pull up and lock off followed by leg raises, then followed by more pullups but assisted (foot on chair). At the end of three minutes of this routine I was very grateful for my three minute break.
Of course stronger folk than me would need less assistance, and could hang on for longer stints, the key thing is by the end of your 30minutes you should be barely able to hang on anymore. I'm sure others do similar types of training but I think in honour of my perseptive coach I'm going to call this the Gresham!