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Monday, November 23, 2015

25% Off PDF Training Plans Tomorrow

If you aren't following us on Instagram, now's the time!  Tomorrow we'll be having a one day only 25% off sale on all of our PDF Training Plans!  Consider it a "we know you'll be climbing on Black Friday" sale.

The discount code will go up on Instagram tomorrow morning, so go follow us now!  @powercompanyclimbing or click on the instagram logo in the sidebar!

If you want to pre-browse the plans, you can do that HERE.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sandbagged. Are You Kidding Yourself?

It's the new buzzword that's been around forever.  Sandbagged.

"That 10c is definitely more like 11b!"
"That CAN'T be 12a... I NEVER fall off of 12a!"
"This is WAY harder than the two 13a's I've done, so it MUST be 13d!  At least!"

Or more precisely...


Funny, I never hear "Damn, that 10d kicked my ass.  I guess I've got some things to learn", or "That 13a felt hard to me, I guess I should actually work on slopers for a while".

Nope.  Instead, we blame the grades.  The numbers.  The proposed suggestions of vague measurement.  

You're kidding yourself.  Worse, you're stunting your growth.  Holding yourself back.   Even worse than that, if your friends believe your bullshit, you're holding them back as well.

 First off, let's look at the word "sandbagged".  Actually, don't.  Some of the definitions are a little crazy.  Best to just leave those alone.  

The two definitions I find most appropriate to climbing are these:

1."The act of undermining someone else's opinion subtly, yet in a public area, to make him/her appear foolish."
2."When you're tricked into doing something because you weren't given all of the information you needed to make a good decision."
Was the route graded low to intentionally make people look stupid?  Doubtful.  I, for one, have never seen it.  Not in Vedauwoo, not in Joshua Tree, not in The VRG.  The grades seem pretty much the same to me across every area I've climbed in, and when they don't, I just assume I'm missing a key ingredient, and I go back to the drawing board.

Were you tricked into something?  Probably not.  At least not directly.  Maybe your gyms setters have an overinflated view of their abilities, and the V5/6 problems are actually much closer to V3/4.  In which case, you go outside and THINK that you should be climbing V5/6.  When you get shut down on that classic V4 that 30,938,349,087 people have done and come to a consensus on, you feel sandbagged, and you need to protect your ego by proclaiming it loudly.  I don't blame you.  I get it.  I sympathize (not really).  But the grade isn't sandbagged.  You were sandbagged by your setters.  Blame them.  Better yet, blame yourself for falling for it and putting so much weight in their proposed suggestions of vague measurement.  Measurements that are faulty to begin with because your setters climb outside twice a year and get sandbagged on EVERY rock climb they try.  See the pattern?  

Bob Scarpelli, of Vedauwoo offwidth fame, is often considered by many to be the worlds biggest sandbagger.  Frankly, I didn't find his routes to be sandbagged at all. Did they feel ridiculously hard?  Yes.  Fuck yes.  But when I watched Bob climb them, it became obvious that his technique was light years ahead of mine.  As I learned from Bob and got better, the routes felt more like the given grade.  Had I just blamed the grade, I might never have gotten better at offwidth climbing.

When you're hanging there on the end of the rope, or crumpled in a heap on your crashpad, incensed that you've been sandbagged by this clearly undergraded rock climb, before you look stupid for voicing your thoughts, take a breath.  This is an extremely valuable moment.  

It's an opportunity to learn something.  An opportunity to better yourself.  

See, you have the tools to change yourself.  You have gyms.  You get to watch better climbers all day long if you wish.  There are great coaches out there (did I mention that we build machines?).  You can get better.  And best of all, you know EXACTLY what to work on.

You can also change that grade on your 8a scorecard, but you didn't get better as a result of it, did you?  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: Skratch Labs Hydration Mix

This review just might be the longest, most unscientific review of a product ever undertaken.  It wasn't that I felt like I HAD to do it this way, it's that after I first used Skratch Labs products, they exploded onto the market and were a hot topic, so I knew my review would be lost in the shuffle. However, I'm glad it went this route, because it just reaffirmed that my initial thoughts were correct.

So here's my timeline with Skratch Labs:

February 2013: I first tried the new drink mixes from the young company, Skratch Labs, via a package sent to me by former Evolv rep Jay Peery.  At the time I was just beginning my own quest to find a nutrition protocol that was both simple and easy, and made sense to me.  That's easier said than done.  I'm a recovered Coke addict.  Coca Cola, that is, which is essentially the taste of my childhood, and by comparison, nearly everything is healthier.  I knew that being healthier than soda wasn't enough, but what was?  Where should an athlete go to get the energy that I used to get from carbonation, caffeine, and copious amounts of sugar?

When I first tried Skratch, I left it sitting in the bottle overnight like I regularly do with Gatorade (sometimes days!?), and it fermented.  Fermented.  Ok, it's real fruit.  I should have expected that, I suppose.

Spring/Summer 2013: I used Skratch anytime I climbed.  In the gym while training, at the crag, and I even hauled a bunch up to the Strawberry Roan in Wyoming.

I wasn't completely sold.  I knew I liked the stuff, but maybe water is just as good?  Maybe Gatorade is similar, or even better?

Fall 2013:  Mid I switched to water.  Just water.  Plain old water.  Honestly, it was harder than I expected.  I found that when I didn't have the taste of Lemon Lime Skratch to look forward to, I ended up less hydrated.  Psychological for sure, but we can't overlook the role that psychology plays in sport.

Spring 2014: I remained committed to water for most of the season, at which point I switched to Gatorade.  I have a sweet tooth, so this suited me just fine.  All in name of science, right?

I found myself often watering down the overpoweringly sweet Gatorade, or even just skipping it in favor of water altogether.  It left me feeling bloated, and just served to increase my sweet tooth, which is NOT a good thing when projecting hard routes.  As my sweet tooth grew, so did my need for Gatorade.

Fall 2014: I was complimenting my Gatorade with candy bars every chance I got.  Gatorade is the gateway drug to obesity, I'm convinced.  Luckily, I had registered for 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, and Jay Peery was there with Skratch Labs.  With a handful of packets of Skratch, including the new flavor with caffeine, Matcha Green Tea with Lemons, I detoxed from the Gatorade and made it through the 24 hour event easily, making my 99th, 100th, and 104th route all 5.12s.

Winter/Spring 2014:  I took a fall at work and destroyed my rotator cuff, requiring an extensive surgery.  Sitting still allowed my sweet tooth to catch up to me, and it was ice cream all day every day for a while.  And the Gatorade.  The gateway drug.  Not only did my right side atrophy in a shocking way, but I was beginning to look like I belonged in my 40's.  I used the injury as an excuse, and just let it happen.

July 2015: On a drive from Lander, Wyoming to Estes Park, Colorado to see our friends Rannveig and Nathan, we stopped at a convenient store and I bought a Glacier Cherry Gatorade (because they didn't have Blue Cherry, which was my new favorite flavor).  After 4 or 5 drinks, I realized that everytime, over the last two weeks, that I had drank a Gatorade, I ended up with a ferocious stomach ache.  I'm the type to ignore most pain, so it hadn't really occurred to me that there was a connection.

Sugar addiction is real, and it's scary.

Now:  I haven't had a Gatorade since. I went all water for a few months.  Recently, after a particularly hard week of physical therapy, I tried Skratch again.  The same Lemon Lime that is my favorite, understated flavor.  I feel better.  There's no bloating.  My next week of PT was a banner week of improvement.

It's real fruit.  It's real energy.  It's real.  Just real.

Now I'm sold.

What It Is (besides just real)

Exercise Hydration Mix

Flavors I tried, in order of personal preference:  

Lemons + Limes (my overwhelming favorite)
Pineapple (not a fan)

With less than half the calories of the same size serving of Gatorade, and containing no artificial flavors, coloring, or sweeteners, this mix is something akin to drinking water made more refreshing with just a splash of flavor.  Occasionally I get a slight salty taste... which is exactly what I miss from Gatorade, that it used to have back in the day (I am over 40, I can use that phrase).  I actually water it down a little more than suggested, because climbing isn't an endurance sport, not even in the madness cave, and doesn't deplete you the same way.  No need to replenish what you haven't lost.  

Daily Electrolyte Mix

I only tried the Lemons + Limes flavor.  

Lighter than the Exercise mix, with half the carbs and nearly half the calories, this product is for those
days when water just doesn't seem like enough.  This is huge for me, because it satisfies my sweet tooth (when it's been conditioned to not need sugar constantly to survive).  This mix actually works just as well for me during a normal climbing session.  When I'm lifting, it doesn't seem like quite enough, but for a normal, short, mostly socializing, bouldering session, it's plenty.

Exercise Hydration Mix + Natural Caffeine from Green Tea

Matcha + Lemons is the only available flavor.

I first tried this product during 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell.  Jay Peery handed it to me, and warned me not to go overboard.  Bobbi Bensman told me it had her bouncing off the walls.  Redbull and other energy drinks do almost nothing noticeable for me, so I wasn't buying the stories.  I tried one packet of this stuff, mixed with the recommended amount of water, and I was dead wrong.  I got a noticeable energy boost, and don't remember anything similar to crashing.  In fact, the Redbull in my bag, along with several bottles of 5 Hour Energy, remained unopened.  With the same light, understated flavor as the Lemons + Limes that I love so much, this one is already in my bag for 24 HHH this year.

With several excellent cookbooks aimed at athletes (seriously, check them out!) and now with fruit drops and cookie mix in their lineup, Skratch promises to keep making waves.  I'm looking forward to seeing where they go.  Frankly, I'm a little surprised that it hasn't caught on in the climbing gyms yet, but I still see Gatorade in the coolers.  When it comes to nutrition, I expect you guys to be way ahead of me, but this time, you're not.  I don't understand the science behind it, because honestly, it just doesn't matter that much to me.  It makes me FEEL better, and for me, that's enough.

The Skratch Story

Rather than go into it myself, I'll let them tell you, via this great interview with Chalk Talk Podcast, in which they get into the philosophy behind their products, as well as a little of the science of how and why they work:

Click HERE for Chalk Talk Podcast

And this video:

Just in the interest of transparency, Skratch sent me the products I reviewed at no cost to me.  I have no further affiliation with Skratch Labs.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chalk Talk Podcast

Weird.  I would have sworn that I hit publish on this weeks ago, but the inner workings of this blog say that I, in fact, did not.  So now I am.  Must have gotten lost in the crazy shuffle that went on over here recently.  The original post is below the photo, just so you don't get confused with me sounding redundant, which I probably tend to do anyway.

Hopefully you've all heard this episode, and you've heard the great episodes since then, including the Nathaniel Coleman episode that was one of my favorites.  Pretty cool to hear one of the new crop of comp crushers talk about training in an intelligent way, just like I predict in my episode.  So if you haven't, read on and then go listen.  If you have, do it again!  

A few days ago I sat down and had a great conversation with John Blomquist from Chalk Talk Podcast and Mantle Press Media.  

We got into several things, including hiphop, art, and life, but the majority of our conversation revolved around The Power Company and training.

Check it out HERE, and subscribe to him on your podcast platform of choice!

If you haven't listened to Chalk Talk before, I particularly enjoyed the recent episode with Tonde Katiyo, who has taken the art of routesetting to a whole new, more intellectualized level, even if he doesn't consider it "art".

I also loved the episode with Acacia Young of Climb Healthy, for her individualized, common sense approach to nutrition.  I've mentioned before that I've been working with Acacia to lose this injury created dadbod, and I'll be revealing some of those results soon as well!

Now go listen... I'm busy and I've got more shit to do!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The #1 Reason Why Your Training Doesn't Work

Do as I say, not as I do. I wish those instructions actually worked, but they never do. Fact is, I train hard. I train smart. Most of the people I work with do the same, and I'm not shy about telling them that if they are taking shortcuts, they are only hurting themselves. But here's where it goes wrong... wrong for them, but right for me, that is. I don't climb outside locally during training season.

At 90 degrees with 90% humidity, I'm going to stay in the gym EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

That doesn't mean that it's right for you.  More than likely, it isn't.  Most of the people I work with have only been climbing seriously for a few years, and they all stand to gain a wealth of experience by grinding through the heat of a summer or suffering through snowy, freezing days.  I've climbed thousands of routes outside, in every condition imaginable... they've climbed 30 or 40 routes TOTAL.

You  CANNOT shortcut experience, and you don't get climbing experience in the gym.

I see it over and over again... a climber trains hard all summer long, never touching rock until the prime season arrives.  They go outside for ONE day, and send me a frantic email on the way home.

It didn't work!!!!  I fell on a 5.10!!!!  I can't believe it.... I trained so hard but I got WEAKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It takes me a minimum of a few routes to get back into real rock mode.  That's after thousands of routes of every style... slabs, faces, steep caves, roofs, cracks, corners, roof cracks, offwidths, chimneys, sport, trad, runout scary headpoints, etc etc.

You've got 40 routes under your belt?  Expect about 4 or 5 days AT LEAST before you get comfortable, and that's only if you've ever been comfortable to begin with, and if those 4 or 5 days happen in the span of a couple of weeks.

40 routes on your all time ticklist and you only climb outside twice a month?  Expect to spend half of your season getting comfortable.  In fact, you shouldn't have a "season"... you should just go climbing EVERY CHANCE YOU GET, ALL YEAR LONG.

Put simply, the wider the base on your pyramid, the less chance it has of toppling over.

I know lots of 5.12, and even 5.13 climbers who skip the less than desirable days, and because they are climbing 5.12 or 5.13, it seems they've been successful anyway.  Not so.  It's not uncommon for those climbers to spend their first 2 or 3 attempts on a route just getting the jitters out.   Lets say those 2 or 3 attempts take up a whole day, which isn't a stretch.  Over the course of a season, even if you're the type that sits around most of the day, that's at least 10-12 attempts.

That's 5 or 6 days of prime temps that you've WASTED.

Here's the facts.  No amount of training will make you comfortable in a performance.  Not for a job, not for a musical, not for climbing.  You MUST spend time in the actual arena to become comfortable in that arena. There are no shortcuts.

Experience trumps training.  Everytime.

You know that girl who never trains, but always seems to outclimb you, without even trying hard?  The one you burn off in the gym and spray beta at because your ego demands you assert your dominance?  You know why you don't see her in the gym on the weekends during the training season?  It's because she's outside, getting experience.

You're getting stronger, but she's getting better.  

God forbid she discovers training...your poor little ego wouldn't stand a chance.