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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Training weekend in Oloron

This past weekend, Mathilde and I decided to drive out to Oloron-Saint-Marie to climb on their big wall. The wall is 20m and has a bunch of hard routes from the “24 Heures Du Mur” competition they had last October. I wrote up a post about that competition which can be found HERE. Mathilde wrote up a good post and I’m just going to link to it rather than typing it again. It’s in French although she added the Google translator in her sidebar. Let me know if anything’s unclear and I can explain it! If you haven’t clicked on the link, you can click HERE. She just started the website and it can be found at http://mathildebecerra.com

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Training Log, March 31

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but I haven’t been doing a lot. I’m getting ready for my summer trip back to Europe and I’ve been training, working and hanging out with friends. Last weekend I went to Leavenworth with Jamie Chong, Sarah Austin, Vikki Weldon and Rich Kupskay. The boulders down there are really amazing. They’re pretty spread out so you either want the guide book or a good tour guide. We went to 5 or 6 different areas in two days and climbed on around 40 boulders. There are some boulders that aren’t in the guidebook or old grades but I thought the grading there was really good and the moves were really fun. The rock is granite down there, but contrary to Squamish, there’s tons of holds and there’s not many lip traverses. This blog is going to be about my training day. Yesterday I went to the gym in the middle of the day so I didn’t have anyone to climb with. I decided to try and do every boulder problem in the gym and I figured I’d log it and maybe try to do it again with the same problems. I set a couple of rules before I started. It’s a lot easier to just warm up, do all the hard problems and work your way down, so I decided that I must complete the one wall before I move to the next one. I also said I had to do the problems on each wall from easiest to hardest, like a competition. Obviously if you fall, the boulder doesn’t count and you have to redo it. I took a clipboard downstairs and during my training, I logged how many problems I did in a row, how many moves they were, and how long it took me. I also wrote down how long it took me to do the whole wall. I also took 5 minute rest in between each wall. In this blog, whenever I talk about how long it took me to do a set of boulder, that includes how much rest I took after the last set. So if I do 7 boulders in 5 minutes and the last 2 boulders in 15 minute, it’s because when I jumped off the wall after doing the first 7, I logged the time, then i rested for 12 minutes and took 3 minutes to do the last 2 boulders which adds up to 15 minutes. In our gym we have 6 different bouldering walls: we have TV West, North, Clock, Back Cave, Whale Belly and Main Cave. I warmed up by doing 55 moves across the bouldering wall then I started in the main cave. I did the first 7 problems for a total of 60 moves in 18 minutes including my warmup. I did the last 2 problems for 18 moves in 7 minutes. The whole Main Cave consisted of 9 boulders and 78 moves which took me 25 minutes. Next wall was Whale Belly. The first 3 problems (26 moves) took me 3 minutes, the next 4 (36 moves) 7 minutes, the next 4 (36 moves) 8 minutes. The last 4 problems (44 moves) took me 28 minutes to do. I knew that the Whale Belly was probably one of the hardest walls because the last 4 problems are pretty long and hard. The whole Whale Belly consisted of 15 problems (142 moves) and it took me 48 minutes. Next wall was Back Cave. The first 7 problems (78 moves) took me 11 minutes and the last problem (15 moves) took me another 6 minutes. The Back Cave consisted of 8 boulders (93 moves) and it took me 17 minutes. TV Walls were next and I started on West. The first 5 problems (52 moves) took me 4 minutes to do. THe next 2 problems (26 moves) took me 7 minutes to do. The last problem which was 15 moves took me another 6 minutes to do. In total, TV West consisted of 10 boulders (96 moves) and it took me 22 minutes. TV North next. I did the first 6 boulders (52 moves) in 7 minutes. I did the next 3 boulders (25 moves) in 10 minutes and I did the last boulder (8 moves) in 5 minutes. The whole TV North consisted of 10 problems (85 moves) and it took me 22 minutes. Lastly was the Clock Wall. There’s no hard boulders on this wall because it’s all vertical with a couple of features. I did all 7 problems (57 moves) in 6 minutes. In total, with my 5 minute rest per wall it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to do all the boulder problems. The Edge as of March 31 consists of 59 boulder problems ranging from V0- to VHard. Those 59 boulder problems consisted of about 606 moves. After my training, I was pretty tired, I didn’t take many breaks and my whole body hurt. I’m not sure if anyone felt this post was useful but I get a lot of people asking me how I train. Today I decided to do Volume. Below, I’ve scanned in a picture of how I logged the problems, I wrote down the number of problems I did in a row, how many moves they were and at what time I finished that set. [singlepic id=20 w=320 h=240 float=]

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Competition Warm-up

Many people have asked me how I warm up for competitions so I thought I’d write about my warm ups. Usually I take between 45 minutes and 75 minutes to warm up really well. Sometimes, during a competition, I might only have 30 minutes to warm up and you just have to tweak your rests and difficulty of moves. Another thing is, sometimes the isolation zones are just terrible at some gyms so I’ve actually learned how to do most of my warm up just sitting around on the ground. Obviously, I only use this technique if the climbing walls are really bad for warming up on. A pretty good example of this would be at North American Championships. During finals isolation, there was no overhanging walls to warm up on. Instead, I try to get pumped by just opening and closing my hands above my head. This gets you pumped and your fingers warmed up without actually touching holds. After you’ve done this, you also have to go and get on your hard moves before you go out. My 75 minute warm up starts with 5 minutes of cardio. You can do anything, jump up and down, go for a run, jump rope, anything to get your heart going. For the first 10-15 minutes, if your feet are cold just wear your street shoes, if not put on your climbing shoes, do easy moves on big holds. I’m usually just trying to get the blood pumping through my arms so when I go and try harder moves, they feel easier. After you feel a bit warmed up, get your climbing shoes on and do 40+ moves on the climbing wall. You can change the difficulty of the movement but they shouldn’t be really hard yet. I do this on usually pretty big holds and I make it long so I can get a bit pumped. If there’s a really hard section in the warm up wall, don’t be afraid to just jumped down and skip that section. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re climbing in isolation, it’s all about the competition route or boulder problems. (As a side note, my warm ups for climbing and bouldering competitions are extremely similar. The difference between them is for lead warmups, I do more resistance warming up and for bouldering, I’ll do 5-7 hard move boulder problems before I go out.) Getting back to the warm up, after those 40+ moves, I stretch out for about 15 minutes and stretch my arms. Usually after that, I’m feeling really good, I still have 30-35 minutes before I go out so I start doing really hard moves. I’ll start by making a boulder problem of 10 or so moves but I’m pretty sure I can do. Usually they’ll have dynamic moves in them and trying to use all sorts of different holds. Also, I try to touch every single hold I’ve never seen before while I’m in iso. You never know when one may pop up in a really har spot on your climb. When I’m competing in Europe, it’s usually every hold, which makes route sequencing a bit harder… a After I make a few hard boulder problems, I always finish with a really hard boulder problem. Usually I’ll fall, but sometimes I even surprise myself and do it. The reason I make a really really hard boulder problem is because if you’ve tried harder moves in your warp up than in the competition, the competition boulders will feel much easier. I usually rest for at least 10 minutes before I’m supposed to go out to climb to stretch out my arms again. Before I go out, I’m completely de-pumped and I’m already psyched to climb new moves. It doesn’t matter if I’m about to climb a route, or a boulders, every single time before I get on the wall, I chalk up, wipe the chalk off on my pants, chalk up again, swing my arms back and forth a couple times, then I get on the wall. I’m not sure why I do this but I always do. I swing my arms back and forth to release the nervousnous in my body and I always take a few deep breaths. I get on every boulder problem on route thinking that if I’m lucky, I’ll top it out. You have to have this mentality when you’re competing. If you think that you’re going to fall half way up, you probably will. Competing is 80% mental, maybe more.

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