Case Study: Taylor, Part III: Phase One.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't have very high expectations for this case study.  I was positive that Taylor had the skills to put it all together.  I was positive that if he applied himself, he'd do well.  However, I wasn't so sure that he'd stick to the program for more than a week or two.  His mother told me that I didn't need to do all this training to find out that he had trouble focusing.

He might just surprise us all.

All of these moods... in less than 4 seconds.

Week One, however, was no suprise to me.  Ok, I was mildly suprised that he even got out the gate.  Only mildly though, because as we walked into the gym, my girlfriend announced to him, "Taylor, Kris doesn't think you'll even get started."  I suppose at that point, he had no choice.

After warming up, his first attempt at his 12/10/12 linkup went well.  He made it up the 12, down the 10, and without much shaking out, halfway back up the 12.  About what I expected.  It was his second attempt that I was anxious to see, and it didn't dissappoint.  He didn't even get up the first lap on the 12.

Taylor was gonna have a long night, but that's what we're here for, right?

The rest of the session was a steady downhill slide into complete annihilation.  On his first attempt at the 11/11/11, his lead head jumped in the way.  He just kept downclimbing, bailing on the idea of unclipping, until about 2/3rd's of the way down, at which point the impending swing became dangerous.  A valiant effort to climb back up ended after just a few moves.  I'm not even sure he tried it a second time.  

I could see the frustration starting to creep in, and I know all too well how that feels, so I stepped in, gave the brief pep talk/humorous jabs that I knew would keep the ball rolling, and walked away, satisfied that I had made the right call in making stamina, with a focus on his mental lead capabilities, the first priority of his training.

As Taylor entered week 2, the adaptations had already started to take hold.  He sent his 12/10/12 linkup, and at the end of the week, completed the 11/11/11 linkup, unclipping and releading.  By week 3, he was coming close to a 12/11/12 linkup, and was really starting to take advantage of the rest stances.  He sent his 10/10/12/roof linkup, a 140 foot monster, late in a session.  During week 1, he'd have been hard pressed to even get up the 10 at the end of the night.

At week 3, Taylor got outside for the first time since his training started, and he began work on what could be his first 5.13, "Easy Rider."  I applaud him for that choice, as it's not a boulder problem to jugs, which would suit his style and be a quick send.  Instead, it's long and pumpy, with a heartbreaker redpoint crux guarding the chains.... exactly what he's training to get better at.  A good first day of work left him with a couple of long links, and the thought that it could go down quickly. 

In my opinion, Phase One was a resounding success.  The first few workouts resulted in the kind of beat down that I expected, and hoped, he would get.  But how nice it must be to be 20 years old... a week later his body had already learned how to deal with the workouts and what adaptations to start making.

What could have been done better?  It wasn't often that Taylor completed the entire workout.  This is minor, as these workouts are simply a guideline, and the busy life of a student and employee comes first.  Skin became a limiting factor, one that is hard to overcome.  However, when training stamina, it's a necessary evil to go beyond that pain threshold and sacrifice a little comfort.

Also, in such a social environment, can I realistically expect a 20 year old with focus issues to stay completely focused on a training program?  Not quite.  At first, you take what you can get, and hope that the newly created ability is more of a motivator than the social scene.

Most importantly, in my only observation during week 3, I noticed a completely different climber.  The second and third attempts looked just as strong as the first, instead of the obvious downhill slide of the first week. Gone was the frantic climbing when a pump began to set in, and in its place was a style that I really had to focus on to see unravel just before the point of failure.  In the most telling comment from this first phase, Taylor said to me, "I thought this was going to be boring, but I actually really like it."

Game on.

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