Case Study: Taylor, Part II: Arriving At A Plan.

You might say that Taylor has a hard time focusing on things for very long.  Based on my time spent climbing with him, I would certainly say that.  This knowledge played a big part in how I approached coming up with a program for him.

First, I looked at Taylor's physical attributes and the gaps in his climbing.  The key things that caught my attention were as follows:

1.  Oftentimes on a route, Taylor's first go is his best go.  His onsight ability was far above his redpoint ability, especially when alot of beta needed to be retained.  Also, his day would be significantly short due to an enormous hole where his stamina should have been.  Knowing that he would tire quickly after the first go, the 2nd seemed only to be half hearted, and then he'd be ready to move on.
2.  When reaching what seemed to me to be an obvious resting stance, Taylor would shake for a few seconds, keep sprinting, and inevitably fall not far after.  Being a gym rat, it was rare that he had to climb more than 40-60 feet at a time, all of which he could sprint.  I believed it was just that he didn't know HOW to rest... not that he couldn't.
3.  Taylor's bouldery style often leads to big, powerful, foot-cutting moves.  While he makes quick decisions, they are rarely the most efficient sequence... he is just strong enough to pull them off... for the first 2/3 of the route, anyway.
4.  When Taylor gets truly pumped, his footwork and any efficiency in his technique goes straight out the window.  He jumps and throws more, and relies on instinct, which is a sure path to failure on a hard redpoint attempt. 

Next, I took a deeper look and tried to see what was going on his head.

1.  Not only did his technique go out the window when pumped, but his head would obviously come into play when above a bolt with forearms burning.  This would lead to a freeze up or "Take!" more times than it led to going for it.
2.  Back to the focus thing.  I had never seen how hard Taylor can truly climb.  He simply hadn't spent enough time really dialing in the moves on much of anything to even approach his limits.  Usually he sends in a few tries or he moves on.
3.  On several occasions I've witnessed Taylor completely removing himself from the game before he ever even gets off the bench.  He has an easier time convincing himself that he can't do it than he has convincing himself that he's capable.
4.  Most of these "mental" issues I had already brought up to Taylor, and he acknowledged them.  Knowing that the issues exist is a big advantage, and made me positive that a training program could help Taylor in a big way.

Normally I write a 12 week program for clients.  With Taylor, I chose to go with a shorter time frame.  This would allow him to see the light at the end of the tunnel a little faster.  Knowing that the finish line is near makes it easy for all of us to focus.

I chose to start with 3 weeks of mileage based climbing.  He needed to climb more than his typical night, which would be a few routes and then lots of chatting and hanging out.  Our gym is about 40 feet tall, with a 30ish foot horizontal roof.  The up/down/up routes would simulate the pacing he would need to climb 100 foot routes, and would force him to really dial in the moves and to stop at rests.  Doing this 5 times a night would not only increase his physical stamina, but would give him the confidence that he can perform the same way outside on performance days.  I asked Taylor to always lead the laps, unclipping on the way down, to reinforce that he does have the ability to keep pushing when pumped and above a bolt.  Once the brain learns the possibilities, the self-confidence is only going to improve.  I hoped that by regularly crossing the red line, Taylor would quickly learn to go into that automatic mode where the moves are your only concern.  My expectations are that in the beginning, he'll not even make it through the workout.  He's young and strong, and will adapt fast.

For the second 3 week phase, I upped the intensity quite a bit.  I also added in a single pitch project, for a couple of reasons.  Number one, after 3 weeks of the same up/down/up project, I assumed that Taylor's focus would start wandering.  Being able to tick off single pitches would not only show him that his training was working, but would let him fall back into "Normal Taylor" mode for a few minutes a night.  Reason number two, as Taylor gets stronger, those single pitch "projects" will soon become pieces of his laps.  Best to work them into the program now, rather than spend valuable training time later learning the moves on 1/3 of a long, hard link up. I also added in the "Diminishing Returns" workout to whittle down the time that Taylor believes he needs to spend on jugs for recovery, and give his anaerobic endurance the type of boost it needs for long Red River routes.   I expect that by the time Taylor reaches this phase, he'll already be coming close to sending on all 3 of his up/down/ups, and stamina will largely be a non issue.

This is how Taylor looks for 90% of the time he spends "climbing".  

We'll see how that works out for him...

Along with the program, I gave Taylor these basic instructions:

"Ok, here are the basics...
The goal is to fail.  Once you send a route, you MUST step it up a notch. 
For the up/down/up routes, you are encouraged to shake out.  Spend more time than you think you should, and you'll begin to learn more about how long you can shake and how much more you can get back.  Relax at the rests, and punch it through the cruxes.  To connect routes, feel free to use any jugs.  At the bottom of the down route, I'll sometimes go off route to connect or for a rest if needed to send.  For instance, on the center steep line, my last project was up lime green 12, down blue/sticker 11, up lime green 12.  I used 2 jugs on the white route after finishing green to connect to blue.  At the bottom of blue, I stop before traversing to the start, and go straight down to 2 jugs above the lime green start.  Now that I've sent it, I'll try it without those 2 jugs to shake on.  If you send one of the up/down/up routes, you immediately have to make it harder.   Either by removing a jug you've added in to shake on, or by doing a harder up or down climb.   When you're on redpoint, there are no takes unless it's a dangerous situation.  If you aren't going to failure, you muscles have no reason to adapt. 
The "Diminishing Returns" exercise works like this (I do it on Lime Green/White):
Lead up Lime Green to the move going over the lip (don't clip the lip draw).  Hit the white jug on the lip instead, and downclimb white.  There are no shakes or chalks on the way down white.  Don't traverse to the start of white, instead figure out an easy sequence to either the pair of mini jugs on the blue/orange traverse, or to the two bigger jugs just above the start of lime green (this is your shake out stance).  As soon as you hit the shake out stance, your belayer watches a stopwatch.  You have 2 minutes to rest, and then repeat this until failure.  On your next day in, you have 1:30 to rest, on your next day,  1:00 to rest.  You should end with two sessions of no rest at all.  
Pay attention to your tactics throughout this whole process.   Find rests where you need them.  Remember the beta and do it the same every time.  Stay focused while pumped, and climb it how you've practiced.  Getting more and more familiar with the routes will ensure that you're falling from muscular failure, and not because you fucked up the beta.  Strength and technique aren't issues for you.  Neither is endurance, actually.  From what I can see your issue comes in with tactics, stamina, and keeping it all together once a pump sets in.  Easy fixes. 
NOW... there are only 6 weeks of training here.  I'm about positive that if you stick to this, combined with the talent you already have, you'll easily do 5.13 before the 6 weeks are up.  When you do, keep pushing through it.  If you can wrap your head around how to better climb routes, you'll be doing mid 13's in no time."

In Part III, we'll take a look at how Taylor's first sessions went, and how his first 3 weeks rounded out, along with his progress outside.

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