November 21st 2010. I'm looking out my window at three feet of new snow. Instant ski season Sierra style. I didn't renew my midweek season pass to Alpine Meadows this year. I started to feel it was making me lazy. Last season, when deciding where to ski I would often choose going to the resort as opposed to skate skiing or going into the back country. Maybe it was my ten years of working at ski resorts (8 as a professional ski patroller at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley) that make the vibe there a little unsavory. I find the dog eat dog mentality on powder days to be totally inconsistent to why I ski in the first place. I feel like a total loser waiting in line for the lift to open when I could have skinned up the thing in less time. Is it really an accomplishment worth mentioning that you were the 13th chair on Headwall? Did you really count?
December can be a tricky month for training. Holiday parties, social obligations, too little snow for skiing (not this year!) yet too much for climbing and cycling make it difficult to stick to a consistent training program and not lose ground. It's important to dig deep and find the motivation to ignore voices in your head telling you that you can turn it up after the first of the year. Start the new year stronger than ever.
I've been thinking a lot about training schedules and periodization lately (who am I kidding! I think about this shit all the time). Anyway, I saw an article in Urban Climber, Issue #43 titled Periodized Training by Steve Maisch and Justin Wood. The program that's described is similar in theory to some things we do at garage gym mixing climbing specific movements on artificial walls and fingerboards with metabolic and aerobic conditioning. While Maisch's program seems more geared to bouldering and sport climbing, and ours towards traditional multipitch, big walls and alpine climbing, there is a large amount of cross over. But I wonder how many people could actually follow a program for the prescribed 16 weeks? Because of my family and career obligations I favor a more fluid or intuitive schedule.
In the spring of 1989 I was climbing at Smith Rocks with one of my early training mentors Bill Nicholson. (I took this photo of Bill later that year on the West Face of El Cap (V 5.11c) At the time we were experimenting with a few different climbing / training schedules. One was a 2 days on-one day off-two days on-two days off schedule. Another was to alternate climbing and rest (belay) days with your partner. On that trip I was twenty nine years old and totally obsessed with climbing and rest days were usually unbearable. One rest day despite Bill's warning that "...I was totally blowing it.... and would be screwed for remainder of the trip" I warmed up then redpointed my project and flashed another route at my limit. So much for the schedule. Of course, these days I'm the father figure trying to get my younger partners to take a rest day for my benefit not theirs, but I'm always happy to belay.
My own training schedule is loosely based around Eric Horst's 4-3-2-1 training cycle. I've also used Mark Twight's program in his book "Extreme Alpinism" with good results. Some other good resources are "Skating for Cross Country Skiers" by Audun Endestad, "The Lance Armstrong Performance Program" by Lance and Chris Carmichael and "Climbing for Peak Performance" by Clyde Soles. I list these reference and not my own program because I fell each athlete (with or without a coach) should educate themselves and develop a program that is suited to their goals and schedule. I believe that having some kind of scheduled program is better than just trying to get "hell of pumped". It's also important to keep a training journal so you know what did and didn't work and can evaluate your program over a period of years, not just weeks and months.
Today's workout will start with a few hours of snow shoveling. I'm psyched!