Saturday, 2 August 2014

Experimentation By Jen Wilby

" Walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don't get you in shape. It's your accountability to your word."

This month has been all about the dumbbells and diet, and I am not talking about diet in the short term, but about a long running "diet" which is ultimately about a healthy life style. With the goal being at optimum fighting weight before the Grit season arrives. How do you know what your fighting weight is? It's the balance of being light enough that your power to weight ratio feel's good, you do not struggle with your body weight, yet it's also about being able to function at this weight, being able to work hard, recover and function normally. Either side of this balance and you won't be at your optimum. This is a trial and error process, and a very personal one, only you know where it is, and be honest about it. Personally for me, I was last at my fighting weight in 2011, when I was training for routes. Doing laps and laps of routes in high temperatures, which meant, the weight fell off. Since 2011 I have struggled to get back to this weight, the reason being I'm not doing routes, so I'm not doing the endurance work, and it required a lot of discipline, which diminishes the older and older I get. This isn't a sob story, it's fact. 

The last training cycle involved eating what ever I fancied, when ever I fancied it. There were times, especially during the strength phase that I was exhausted, physically and mentally, sometimes, training just couldn't happen. It was sweet while it lastest :) This cycle I've made some changes thanks to Optimal State

The first thing I did during the scheduled two weeks off between cycles was go through a detox. It was hard to find the right one, so it was a bit of a gamble. The detox was for 9 days The first two days involved no food, yup, two whole days of no food.

During these I consumed a lot of Aloe Vera Gel, which is possibly the worst tasting thing ever. This was to flush out the system. I also had a lot of green tea, which is what I think saved me. The two day's were hard and all I thought about was food. However, at the end of the two days, I realized that the body does not need a great deal in order to function. My body does need a bit more to be sociable though :) The following seven days involved having the usual gel and supplements, but with the introduction of a certain size meal. What was interesting about this, was that I couldn't eat the full meal in one hit and it showed me that I don't eat, on a normal day, that much food anyway. So I split the food up so I ate at regular intervals, about every three hours. 
At the end of the nine days, I felt amazing, lost 5kgs, which I feel could be more if I exercised during this, and I had a lot of energy. I never realized this was possible with so little food. It proved that it's all about what you put it and until you cut out the sugar, caffeine and all the other additives, you don't know how much better you could feel. 
After the nine days, I went back to drinking coffee, tea, eating less than ideal foods, and I felt horrific and I mean awful! So now it's all about moderation, with a view to do the nine days again before the Grit season, but to sustain that throughout, to hit the optimal fighting weight.

The first sustainable change is the introduction of the Protein supplement. I've dabbled with this many years ago, but not consistently. At the moment I add the Natural Nutrients Grass Fed Whey Protein. It is a complete protein source and more details can be found on the link above. I add this to a smoothie each morning. My favorite smoothie for anyone who wants to try it came courtesy of Lanch Green. 

It includes:
  • Hemp Milk - nice nutty taste
  • 1 Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Milled Hemp & Flaxseed (various combinations available with Q10, B12 additions)
  • Whey Protein
  • Brain Octane Oil which provides energy for the brain, or MCT Oil which is like coconut oil but better. 
  • A table spoon of peanut butter (check for palm oil folks!) Meridan do a good "free from" butter. 

This tastes awesome, and you can add what ever you fancy, but here you have the raw ingredients for a great set up for the day. I make sure I have this every day and I am recovering way better than in the first cycle. Sure I ache, but the energy levels stay high so I am able to train better for longer, or harder for a shorter time. I have my pick really, which was not the case before. I have tried other Protein sources but most are full of loads of extra stuff which is pretty poor for you, there is an article here on the differences:

The second sustainable change is to take, a number of times a day, BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acid), B12 and Iron supplements. The BCAA's help promote recovery and fatigue. With this and the B12, again, energy levels are improved. Win win! I have not introduced the Bullet Proof yet but I will when the season starts.  If anyone has any questions on the above just drop me a line, or comment.

So, with all this extra energy and recovery, what have a done with the dumbells? 

Alot of the above! Single, max strength pull up. One pull up, that's all! If you follow the blogs, you will know my weakness by a country mile, is the ability to control and pull my own body weight. So this strength phase is all about that. 

Strength training has included a bit of work on the rings, I'm having to be super careful due to the strain puts on the tendons, and it's all about the dips with the aim of improving top outs and to stop them from being so comical :) Sorry folks!

The other thing I have been experimenting with it one arm hangs on this beauty:
They are, by far, the hardest thing I have ever had to try and do. Should be worth it though.

At the start of the year I had a very specific training plan and was convinced I could stick to it 100%, however, sometimes things just get in the way (by choice!).

During these time's I do get a guilt trip and wonder if I will come to regret it. When you are training and not climbing it's difficult to get a perspective of what's going on and why you are doing it. I am really looking forward to the season up here, there are so many crags which I have not explored and it's going to be a whole winter of new adventures.

One thing that has been keeping me busy is The Depot's Summer Bouldering League. It's a series of four rounds with a final in September. Climbers have about a month to try to complete 30 blocs, with the last round being double points. So all to play for. There is a lot to be said for walking and talking and believing in yourself, however, those of you know follow know, when it comes to comp's the nerves kick in. Always have done. The aim of competing in the Summer League was to get used to trying hard. So many times, as a boulderer, I just drop off and know, I can always try again. However, when there are points at stake, sometimes it just makes you try that little but harder. To this day, I still have no confidence when climbing in front of people. I will actually wait to try a bloc until the wall / area is almost empty, even then I make stupid mistakes, mis-read blocs and generally have a total wobble. Yet, if these were not "comp blocs" I can almost bet that I would be fine, read the problem's right and climb well. Is it the seven headed dragon? How can it be when I am fully into the training cycle, fingers open up, core fails, how can I have high expectations at an indoor comp, especially when I find indoor climbing so hard? It seems I do, making silly mistakes, like getting to the last move, and then not being able to get there again are so frustrating, and as soon as I have a days rest and get back on them, I fly through them. I wonder why the loyalty lies.
I guess the test will be if the weather conditions are perfect when it is the final...

I'm still doing OK, given the mega opponents in 1st & 2nd!

That's all about July has had to offer, a lot of experimentation with training and nutrition. Roll on another two months of this and see what happens.

Happy Climbing!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Competing in the rain – Senior World Cup Chamonix By Connor Byrne

After the technical meeting and publication of the running order we had a bit of a debate over how to share the one senior male GB competition vest we had (kind of Déjà vu moment to Kranj last year).  It looked like we would get away with it, I was up 22 on my first route, giving plenty of time for Ed to get the vest to me.    However for my second climb the timing got tight for me to get my vest back, I got it in the nick of time - slightly damp, hope that was rain and not sweat.

Qualifiers in the rain
Athletes’ presentation
I have mixed feeling over my performance on the two routes.  The first one, I was climbing well and felt comfortable, but just made a mistake and was spat off the wall. I was a bit fed up with being 71 of 76 as I knew I could have done better.  I focused on the second route and did much better – coming 45 of the 76, although oddly I felt I came of this due to a mistake again.  I was fairly happy with 62 of 76, especially considering the quality of climbers I was competing with.


Crowd watching the final
Yet again I have learnt loads, and know what to try to focus on in training, and competing outdoor in the rain an experience.  Staying all together in one apartment was brilliant, and defiantly the way to go, especially with the wet weather.

Chamonix in the sun

View from the Tourist office

Looking forwards to the Senior World Cup in Imst, and then Senior World Championship in Gijon, with all the senior GB men.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Without Hope or Ambition - By Jen Wilby


What is this raging fire
And anguish that consumes the heart?
Why is it so strong
As to rip mind to pieces
And temper heart into sweet complacency?

My passion lights my blood ablaze
And inspires me to travel
To the edge of the earth for answers.
The most complex and unforgiving problems
Seduce my mind,
Clutch at my very soul, and tear out my heart.

Why does my ambition plague me so?
Why does this endless restlessness
Grip me so harshly?
Why must my emotions entrench themselves in such
Cruel whimsy,
Swerving like the raging water in a river?

Shall I sit in this agony as
it Stains my soul?
Shall I lie as this torrent glimpses my weakness
Lulls my defence,
And, as a phoenix bursts to flame, takes the flesh to ashes and I along with?
It is man’s most insolent beast, that which craves and aspires.
And there are none to comprehend the depth of nature to desire.

Hope, the optimistic attitude of mind, based on an expectation of positive outcomes, something which I believe we should not have, as it focuses the mind on the future without actually taking control of it and focusing on the present. Ambition, the strong desire to do or achieve something, which I have in abundance…in winter.  When I first started climbing it was all about routes, and they were awesome, bouldering was just something I played around with in between. I’m not sure when the change happened, when I realised that I enjoyed bouldering so much more, and I’ve never really thought about it up until now. Bouldering for me allows a sense of freedom, I get so much satisfaction from just one move, one single move can consume so much time and energy and the happy dance comes out when that move is achieved, even if the whole boulder problem has not been completed – that’s just an added bonus. However, I am also incredibly stubborn when it comes to boulders, if I get that “feeling” that it will go, I will try and try and try, until physically I can’t any longer. Sometimes this pay’s off, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, the feeling is amazing, when it doesn’t, it’s so frustrating. I walk away wondering if the time I spent on it was worth it, sometimes it seems like such a waste of time. Spending so much time, and often skin, on one move. Forget all that, it’s totally worth it even if I then have to have a few days off to grow the skin and stop the aches :D Climbing is awesome!
However, and odd realisation this month, has been that I actually get more satisfaction from completing a route than a boulder problem, maybe this is because I find routes a lot harder, requiring more than just power, but the knowledge of when to rest, how to rest, recovery, reading holds and moves. So when the chains are clipped, there is so much satisfaction and after clipping the chains of something which has taken so much work, I often re-live that route in my head for many days after. I sometimes do this with boulder problems, but not often. I’m normally read to move on to the next one.

This month, I tied into the end of a rope for the first time in two years. It’s taken long enough to admit that it’s the time, as going to the Lakes or North Wales to boulder every weekend is just not an option, and now I live in Yorkshire, it would be a crime not to get on the Limestone!  The first stop, Trollers Gill!

Trollers Gill
I wasn’t overly psyched, just because it had been so long, but Trollers Gill is in a really cool location up a dry river bed in a gorge. The walk in is very pleasant and it’s worth going just for the walk, beyond the crag to view some awesome Yorkshire scenery. We were the only climbers there, so I could express my sincere trepidation, but I found I was keen to just get on with it. I find if I have time to think about things, I tend not to perform, this has been evident since my swimming days. So off we trundled, laying low on the 6a+ warm up first – pumped, so so pumped by the time I got to the top. This is when I realised that if I wanted to do anything on routes, I would have to invest a lot of time on power endurance. A few years back before heading back to Catalunya, I spent weeks and weeks just going up and down routes, lapping for 20 mins at a time, and found myself able to recover of some of the smallest holds. Am I prepared to do that this year for routes…no, honestly, I’m not. This year is all about preparing for the winter, to get on more physical problems, get on more problems, and be a physically stronger climbing. So, and I quite Freddie Naish, the attitude towards routes this year is “without hope and ambition”, but is it? At Trollers Gill I still got on some harder routes, maybe with a little hope and ambition.

Despite not focussing on routes, I still want to explore the Yorkshire Limestone, so the next stop was Giggleswick. The guidebook showed this crag to be a perfect mileage destination, which I thought would get me back into the swing of things. I don’t know whether it was the time of the year we went, however, it wasn’t what it was described as. Some routes were loose, not very inspiring and it’s a very bad crag for hayfever sufferers, you have been warned! So we decided mileage was not an option, off to Hollywood Bowl it was!

Hollywood Bowl
This crag is not your usual Yorkshire Limestone destination, it has tufa’s! However, it quickly becomes apparent that these tufa’s are not your European tufa’s, those grippy little things which you love grappling with. Be warned, these tufa’s are Yorkshire Limestone tufa’s, slippy, even when not wet and it takes some cunning and brute power to crack them! It’s all goof fun though and there are a few good routes here.

The next stop – Kilnsey! The classic impressive crag.

The stunning crag of Kilnsey

I’ve been to Kilnsey once, a few years back but didn’t do much, so I was keen this year to actually do something on this awesome crag. Bearing in mind, I have no endurance, I went for the shortest route a 10m 7a+ at the far right hand side. It’s got an awesome little boulder problem at the start and then some big moves between big holds, it’s a very enjoyable route!
Comedy is the route which sticks out, a short bulging route which is described as “a modern test piece which is easy for thugs”. Well, that’s not my style, so best get on it. I’ve always wanted to do it, but with that description and with the fact there is always a rope on it, I’ve never been on. I am now fortunate enough to be able to go on an evening, so one Friday evening,  I would like to say I was keen to get on it, but I feel I was bullied into it – however, I loved it and treated it as move for move, not thinking about the chains at the top, but just about the next clip. I enjoyed it so much that first go, I’ve been back again after work to have a go at trying to make some of the moves a little more efficient, however, it is as I feared, thug your way up. Although I haven’t finished this route, I am keen to tie back in and get on it! Who would have known! I got on Comedy because I have hope, hope that one day I will do this route, and I have the ambition to do this route. Whether I am willing to put the work into get there is another question, which is were hope proves void. Therefore, I am doing routes without hope and without ambition, to just enjoy the moves for what they are, individual moments in time which take you away from the past and from the present and provide so much satisfaction. What more is there to it?

Photo's of Comedy - taken by Freddie Naish - MD of The Project Climbing Centre


This week see’s the end of the first training cycle. I was due to be doing power endurance over the last few weeks, which should have tied in nicely with routes, however I’ve done very little PE work and just used the time to climb. With the Tour de France this weekend, it marks the start of a couple of weeks of rest. I’m not too sure how I am going to cope with that, but I will use the time wisely and look at what I want to achieve during the next cycle, which I am super excited about starting. My last blog detailed how I was going to change my diet, I am still going to do this, but I am going to start it when I start the next cycle so I can see the full effect of the supplements and be able to compare more easily to the cycle of not really caring about the nutrition side.

That’s all for now folks, I’m off for a decent rest, lots of sleep, a detox and another planning session.

Happy Climbing!

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Bucket List. By Daragh O'Connor

On the 21st of June the British Bouldering Championships rolled around yet again, Qualification went as planned with me making it into semi’s in 14th. Not amazing, but not bad either.
The real fun was to start the next day. It was a strange feeling to be climbing in the semi’s as all my thoughts and psyche building up were focused on the Qualifiers...

After my first problem I knew my head wasn’t in the game at all. Falling off the first slab which normally would be the problem I would bank on put me off. After that I couldn’t get settled. Looking back I feel like I should have comfortably done both the slab and the dino; and with another attempt on each I might just have.
But sure thats the way with competitions. If your heads not prepared you get diddly in terms of tops. After being bumped down a position from qualifiers to 15th I had to put it out of my mind and focus on what was the main point of the trip.
The senior world cup in Laval.

I knew that how I would climb would pivot on my mindset, if I wasn’t focused I would get annoyed at how I was climbing and with that get more distracted.
Isolation at the world cup is like no other isolation you have ever experienced. Your standing in a room with the best climbers in the world, its tense to say the least. As I was climbing late I had to chill for an hour or 2, trying not to even look at the other climbers as a knock on your confidence is the worst thing that could happen before you have to convince yourself that you can crush every problem in a heartbeat.

You have 50 minutes. 25 minutes of climbing 25 of rest. 5 on 5 off. You don’t really think of much else but climbing. It wasn’t pressure or any of silly mental barrier stuff  that made the comp feel different, it was just an unbelievable amount of psych I had never felt before. After getting my first problem second go and falling off the top hold of 2 more problems i was happy. My result (late 40’s) didn’t show how close I was to doing very well indeed. With just holding those 2 top holds I would have been bumped up my result 20 places at the very least.
Thats why im happy. So excited to do more, and maybe just need to be a little luckier and hopefully all should fall into place.

So yes. Competing in the senior world cup. One of my biggest goals in climbing ticked of the bucket list!

Monday, 2 June 2014


As Spring turns to Summer, the Psyche and motivation has arrived.
Over the last few months trips to Malham, the Lakes and Wales have been going well.  Ticking Bat Route is just around the corner and I am hoping to send before the weather turns hot and work commitments get in the way.  This is the fittest I’ve been for 3 years and I’m loving it.
The Metolius Inferno Draws are brilliant and The Evolv Bandits and Pontas are Holding their own against the rock.
Adam Jeewooth Hatch Life v10/11

Adam Jeewooth shock value v11

Recent trips to Wales have assisted with my power endurance and fitness and also increased my strength.  I have ticked a few new personal problems in the cave: Left wall v8, right wall high v9, cave life v10, high life v10, hatch life v10/11, but failed in hatch life high v11 dropping the last moves 3-4 time (that’s climbing for you).  Also had a good tour of Llandullas cave with Local Wad Chris Doyle.

adam jeewooth walking up ben nevis with ruby dog

A Quick hit to Virtual Crag ended up with an unexpected tick of a classic V11 Shock Value.
Last week a van trip to Scotland was good fun, sightseeing and to conclude the trip an epic walk up Ben Nevis.  Thankfully the Stretch Zion Pants kept me cool and my Evolv Bolt Trainers were comfortable on the rough terrain.
Off to Malham in a min. Wish me luck..........
Enjoy the sun folks.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Where did May go ... ? By Jen Wilby

Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking talking adult.

Birthday cakes!
Sat here looking over a very misty Cow and Calf, wondering where May has gone and what the heck has been done. My memory eludes me! I've never really thought about how these blogs help me, instead, trying to use them as a means to help people open their minds and thoughts. What do I actually get from them though? I spend a significant amount of time pondering about what to write and how to write it (most of the time!)Wanting to say something more than "I did this, and I did that". Sure, I get some awesome things from Beyond Hope....however it has to be about more than that and it's only this morning that I have really thought about what impact these have on me and how it helps. 
The conclusion is that it gives me the opportunity, every four weeks, to review the month and exactly what I've done. It provides a means to be able to think about if I have done everything I have aimed to do, has what I have done been a positive step in the right direction and if not why not? That's a pretty awesome opportunity to have. If I didn't have this, the months would tick by and merge into one big blur, without real focus on reviewing and resetting my goals. 
We are all guilty of it, days merge into months, months merge into the year and by the time you know it, you are celebrating another New Year talking about what you aim to do this coming year which you have many reasons why you didn't do it the year before.
So, why not start your own "blog"?  I don't mean publicly talking about your life, unless you wish to, but personally, at the end of each month, or couple of months, note down how it went, what made you happy, what was productive, what didn't make you happy and how you are going to change things for the following month, no matter how small. 

I was so happy with the progress...I wrote it down :)
So, May, almost half way through the year. It has been a productive month in many ways, except in climbing :\. This month has mainly consisted of rain, searing heat (for a Northerner), bank holidays, weddings, birthdays and organising for this little one to come to the UK to have her forever home with us!

Zahra keeping snug in the Lake District
Jackie at home ... or a wedding venue.
It has also been a month of work, working long hours and committing time to "education" and traveling. I'd love to not have to work to live the life style I do, but I do, so might has well put some effort in. (For those that know me you can pick yourselves up off the floor now).

Mary Jane in London!!!
May has also been the start of my power phase, so I have taken some time to reflect on the strength phase and the training overall to date. My ultimate goal is to climb more physical blocs, rather than the finger ones I gravitate towards and if another result of the training is climbing "harder", opening up more lines to climb, then that's a bonus. I've been trying to put some structure to what I have learnt to share with you all, but it's been a bit difficult, I know what I want to say, just not sure how to, so I've broken it down into sections:

Absolutely key to repair and recover, also something which I have let slip, like a massive landslide! My initial thoughts when I started the plan, was that over the seven months I would drop the weight by focusing on it every day and cut down the intake / type of food I ate as well as the lovely summer ale's that are present in Ilkley! This, in hindsight, was not going to succeed. How can you increase your training, with two sessions a day sometimes and cut down the amount of energy going in? In my last blog, I described how I was totally exhausted and needed to take a few days out. I quickly took the decision not to worry about my weight during this cycle and to just focus on the training and if I wanted to eat, I would, the issue is it was utter cr*p!. I am going to change this for the next cycle and when we get closer to the grit season. A far more sensible and sustainable option. The strength phase has meant I have done little climbing, just campusing and weights. So yes - I'm a little bit of a chunky monkey right now! So what will I change next time around? 
The first major change is going to be introducing the bullet proof coffee into the diet. The Lab  have been experimenting with this for a few months now and only have positive things to say about it. I'm a coffee drinker, like most climbers, but I don't feel great after the "high" has gone. The aim of the bulletproof method is to provide me with enough fuel and brain function (using the Brain Octane Oil) for the whole day to improve my focus and training and to alleviate the craving to snack on rubbish! Once into the grit season I will be using this this as my crag diet, fueling me for the long and brutal grit days. I need to eat at the crag, but when I do, I crash. This should help.

I will also be introducing some protein supplement to the diet. This will involve the B12 Vitamin. I'm border line anemic anyway and this is the one vitamin that I can't get into my diet. This should help with the energy levels. As well as this, I will also be introducing a protein supplement to help me recover . I'll be experimenting with this stuff:

As well as a general overhaul of the quality of food I intake, I'll be making more use of the Rich Roll pre and post workout smoothies. I have used these before and found them really beneficial, both for recovery and getting that little boost before training. Once again, he's experimented with what works and doesn't, so it takes the hard work out of it for you. 

Strength Phase:
I did a lot of muscle activation for this phase, rather than pure strength and for the first time in a very long time, I have managed to complete a full phase without getting injured and I have come out of it that little bit stronger. I did this phase for four weeks, however next time around I am going to extend it to five weeks, as I believe this is the most important phase, after the rest phase, in the cycle and needs more focus. I will introduce maximum weight pulls and hangs as well as a heck of a lot more core! When I designed the plan, I thought I would be able to do two sessions a day twice a week to put in the finger board sessions. With work being so unpredictable, this was not a success. So next time around I'm going to have to plan it a bit more realistically and probably commit to training on a weekend rather than leaving them clear. 

Power Phase:
During this cycle I am dedicating six weeks to this, however I feel this is too long. It's consisting many of dynamic climbing, dynamic campusing and some weights. I feel I am "OK" at power and that strength is really my weakness, so I shall be reducing the time of this phase during the next cycle. 

So that's what I have learnt so far and I'd be keen to hear about everyone else's trial and errors and what they have learnt.

This month, I have managed to do some climbing in between some normal social commitments, with a trip to North Wales and the Lakes. As I am in the middle of training, I'm not tip top on a weekend, in fact I'm normally wiped out. So I've not done anything significant, however I have began to pull more and do bigger moves off slopers and pinch's, so the training must be working and is leaving me excited to really commit to the next few months.
V5 in Carrock Fell

V6 in Carrock Fell I somehow managed not to grease off in the humidity that cut the weekend short!

Start of a one move V5 in Carrock Fell

Start of an awesome V5 in North Wales near Idwal Slabs area, worth the hike.

Onwards and upwards to June, more training with a little more commitment than what I've had this month....and it's time to dust the rope off I think! 

Happy Climbing!