I co-own one of the biggest publishing companies in the climbing world, I'm a full time high school math teacher at a new school (for me) this year, I have a two year old son, and a little over three weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our second child, a beautiful little girl. I also write articles for various magazines, sit on the board of directors for three non-profit climbing coalitions, and try to be a good husband and father by spending as much quality time with them as possible. I forgot what free time looked a long time ago, and being totally honest, I haven't been able to climb in nearly three months. Not something you should publicly say when you have sponsors. But life happens and things come up - commitments, new book projects!, injuries, motivation ebbs and flows. I've never "trained" per say and taking some time away from climbing has never been that detrimental - I've been an off-the-couch climber for as long as I can remember, and quite frankly it has always been helpful for my motivation level. But that's changing. I'm getting older, injuries are becoming more frequent, and climbing whenever I feel like it is no longer guaranteed. I simply don't have the time anymore to attempt my mega-proj 40 times before actually doing it. And yet, I still have goals bigger than ever and I honestly expect to meet those goals before I quit hard climbing. Also, my current goal is huge and heavily relies on a climbing partnership. The last thing I want to do is let my partner down because I wasn't prepared.
Looking back two years ago when I first sat down with Mike and Mark Anderson about publishing their Rock Climber's Training Manual, it's funny to think how the paragraph above was basically their sales pitch. Training isn't necessarily for climbers with all the free time in the world - it's actually most critical for those who have precious little free time. Maximize the efficiency of the time you do have by training at home and crushing your projects when you can slip away from your commitments. In the months that followed, and as I read their manuscript, edited it, and laid it out on the pages you now see, I couldn't help but think how the best marketing plan would be to take a stereotypical "Weekend Warrior" kind of climber, have them follow the program, and track their progress on a blog or with videos or something. Like many good ideas, it remained just that. However, this is my attempt to resurrect that idea in some fashion.
During the first two weeks of June, I hope to climb the Regular Route on the Northwest Face of Half Dome, Lurking Fear on El Capitan, and Romantic Warrior in the Needles of California. The time window for so many big routes is a little tight, but that gives me approximately five months to prepare. The season/heat isn't ideal either, but again, I'm limited on when I can get away, so it'll have to do. I'll be following the program laid out in the book, written by the Weekend Warrior poster children Mark and Mike Anderson, two extremely accomplished climbers, and both of whom are family men with real careers and limited free time.
And so it begins. I started the ARC (Aerobic Restoration and Capillarity) Training on my home wall: several sets of moderate climbing where I simply stayed on the wall for 30 minutes without coming off and 10min rests between each set. The brothers recommend you do this on vert to slightly overhanging terrain but the "slabbiest" wall I have is still 15 degrees past vert. Not trying to be hardcore, just working with what I have. Again, this will be a blog about my experience, following the program to the best that I can given my own life commitments, abilities, and resources. Yes, I live 15 minutes from eight real-deal climbing gyms in the Boulder/Denver area, but I don't have the time or money for them right now. The home wall is the best thing for me at the moment. Hopefully that changes at some point in this journey. So stay tuned, follow along, and hopefully get inspired to train for your own goal, especially if you've been like me and just "off the couch it". If nothing else, I hope these blog posts/updates keep me inspired to train for the first time since starting to rock climb well over a decade ago :)
Thoughts on the first night: ARC Training is boring - must get an iPod and load some music on it ASAP. It was also strangely satisfying going into the workout with a very specific goal and knowing I was done once accomplishing it. It was definitely efficient: 1 hour and out. Typically I just climb things at the gym until I feel like leaving, which can range from an hour-ish to all day. I like the specificity this program has and hopefully allows me to be more efficient with my time. I can see it allowing me to sneak in the day's workout before work sometimes too. Also, I've never been a gym climber so I forgot just how much plastic hurts your skin when you take some time off climbing. I couldn't find the balance between keeping a nice, mellow pump in my forearms on the big holds yet hurting my skin, and getting too pumped by compensating for the skin by using smaller crimps. Ah, let the training begin!
- Jason Haas