The Rock Climber’s Training Manual embodies my life right now. It’s halfway through the fourth week and I haven’t had a chance to simply type a 10-minute blog update for Week 3. That’s how busy I am right now. Two books for Fixed Pin waiting to go to the printer, another two books needing me to finalize proofing them by the weekend. It’s busy around here! Which is why I need a schedule. Left to my own fartlek approach to training, it wouldn’t be happening right now. Mom was visiting from 1,000 miles away? Still gotta do a hangboard workout. Long day at the office and the kids want to play? Wait until the go to bed and settle in for a long night. If it’s on the schedule, I’m working out. 

With that said, I restricted myself to the prescribed routine and only to the hangboard. I had a frustrating session that threw me off my game – I got a flapper and all my skin hurt really bad, I had to get up early and do it in the morning rather than at night like usual. Motivation was low and it was hard to push beyond the comfort level and not just do the motions. Next session was set up to be an even larger failure – the kids were sick and up all night, so I got less sleep than I have since Adele was born. I wasn’t sure about just taking another rest day as Erin and I planned for that night to be the workout night, but I was worried about potential injury if I pushed it too hard from being exhausted and groggy.

I took extra care to pick a strong playlist and took a minute to reflect on why I was out in the garage in the first place. Numbers don’t motivate me. To say I’ll climb “5.1X” this year doesn’t do it for me. It needs to be bigger than that, something more meaningful and special. It needs to be a once in a lifetime opportunity sort of goal. That motivates me. I have spent several trips/weeks in the Valley but with two kids and living in Colorado, the chance to do more trips like that were not likely, nor as high of a priority. So this next trip needs to count and it needs to be specific. Go for iconic. Go for Half Dome. Go for El Capitan. 

I was motivated, but still tired. My mental attitude was moving in the right direction, it just was a bit lethargic. First warm up set went well. Then the second one. The third grip caused a flapper last time. I taped and added weight, mentally bearing down. I didn’t fall and I had added more resistance! Mental attitude rose. The next grip was another goal weight! This continued with each grip, and with each grip I could find myself getting more and more pumped up. Let’s go crazy. Instead of adding 10 pounds, let’s do 15! I was unstoppable! 

It was remarkable how much a slight change in mental perspective/attitude can really change what your body can physically output. It really is a state of mind. I have not found my body’s limits, but I intend to. Only for a moment. Then I’ll push past them. 

For those interested, I have done five hangboard workouts so far. It took a solid session to figure out my baseline, but I must say, writing down notes after every set with each grip is invaluable. I write notes to myself that really help dictate the next workout. It could be meticulous and boring like “failed 5 sec, last rep” or it can be motivating like “beast mode! +10 next time!” But overall, it has been phenomenal to see where my ceiling is, only to literally break through it on the very next workout. I asked my friend Adam about where’s the limit and he said I needed to use smaller holds. He’s probably right as I’ve added nearly 10lbs to virtually every grip every single workout for five in a row. But I do fail. I sometimes fail at rep 5 or 6 of the last set like I’m supposed to, but then am fine with that weight the very next time.

I intend to go through eight hangboard sessions and then will re-evaluate the grips I’m using for the next cycle. For instance, I’ll probably drop the sloper as it seems more friction dependent than strength dependent. I can fail at 7 reps at body weight or +30, but the humidity/sweat normally has me fail at 7 reps no matter what. The board just gets too slippery at that point. Anyway, the path to Yosemite continues on…

Jason Haas