Reader Questions: A Red River Plan.

Extra time has been tough to come by as of late, as work, training, and climbing devour my days.  I've checked a few V9's off the ticklist, come agonizingly close on V10, and am just about ready for route season.  Expect a few posts/updates/videos on those subjects...and come shortly, and in rapid fire style.

We're gonna start it off with a question I just received, and because climbing in the Red River Gorge is near and dear to my heart, it was a question I couldn't resist answering immediately.

 Anonymous said...
First off Kris, I want to thank you for starting this amazing blog and starting all these discussions about training. I found your blog at just the right time, as I'm also attempting to do some focused and scientific training for the first time in 6.5 years of climbing.
I'm really busy with school so I haven't taken the time to comment yet, but I've already read nearly all your material at least once. Great stuff man!
I'm wondering if you could comment a bit about my current training plan for a trip to the RRG in the first 3 weeks of April. A little background first: my current pyramid tops out at V8 and 13d. All of my hardest routes have been endurance-fests (ala the Pipe Dream Cave), and thus far I believe endurance has been my biggest asset in climbing.
Over the past several weeks I've done a mix of weighted hangboard, campusing, and short hard bouldering (inside and out) to develop strength and power. I had to take a week off for a minor bicep tear, but now I seem to be able to climb at my current max again.
I have 4 weeks left now until the trip to the Red. I am going to be VERY busy with school for those 4 weeks and probably won't be able to get out and climb routes, but I will have access to a bouldering gym and maybe a bit of outside bouldering here and there.
So finally, my question to you is, do you think I would be better off focusing on power (campusing, short hard boulders) or power-endurance (4x4s, density blocks, long boulders) for the next 4 weeks?

Anonymous, I don't know who you are, but I like your style.  If you haven't been to the Red before now, you will LOVE it.  That much is guaranteed.  Alright... down to business...

Emily Harrington on "Flour Power" (13b).  Keith Ladzinski photo.

With 4 weeks before your trip begins, you have the perfect window to streamline a few specific aspects of your training to fit the Red River pumpfests.  I'm going to give you the advice that I feel has worked best for me in preparing for the season here to begin.

The classic periodization model begins with local (aerobic) endurance (which you have tons of), moves on to strength and power, and finishes with the blending of the two, anaerobic endurance.   It appears you're already on the track for this.  The only question I could ask is to what specific style of bouldering you've been training.  If you're solid on edges (especially in an open handed position), 2-finger pockets, and big, slopey pinches, then I'd move straight to anaerobic endurance.  If not, maybe spend a week shoring up any weaknesses.  Just be careful with that bicep! 

A quick primer on the popular (more difficult) crags if you haven't been here before....  The Motherlode and The Gold Coast = Edges.  Darkside = Pockets.  Drive By/Bob Marley = Edges and big, slopey pinches.  Choose your poison.

Daila Ojeda on "Ultraperm" (13d).  Ladzinski photo.

With the local endurance that you already possess, you have a great advantage.  It's pretty rare that you won't find a perfect jug somewhere in a 3 or 4 bolt area.  If you can recover, you're golden.  However, those routes do exist that just keep you wishing for a jug... so a couple of weeks of anaerobic endurance will go a long way.  In my experience, the best setup for 4x4's or circuits in preparing for the Red is to do them on longer problems, each of 8-12 moves minimum, rather than on short, more intense problems.  Focus on the holds that mimic the routes you want to climb, and strive for that efficient movement that we all somehow seem to lose when bouldering.... it will be your greatest asset at the Red. 

Don't forget to take a solid 4 days or a week of rest before your trip.  Let your muscles heal and your skin grow back.  You'll hit the ground running when you arrive in Kentucky, I'm sure.    And look me up when you get in town... lets do some climbing.  

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