Happy new year! / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Another year and a new Mayan Calendar have begun without any change to the world (that I noticed anyway...) However there has been a big change in my approach to achieving my goals. I am finally doing what I possibly should have done a long time ago - Experimenting with training rather than just climbing, to see what this can do for my overall climbing ability. I have self-imposed a break from travel and any real climbing to focus on working my weaknesses, building my strength, power and explosive movement. Preparing for the craziness of 2013 - I am excited to see what it has to throw at me... Training.... Photo: Ben Rueck

I have consciously placed myself in a difficult and often frustrating situation, and I am feeling a long way out of my comfort zone. Winter in Grand Junction - a small redneck 'Merican town in Colorado?!  What I was thinking when I decided that this was a good plan... The whole region has just been hit by an abnormally cold winter - It has been well below 0 degrees Celsius for a good few weeks now, making climbing outside near impossible. The transition from climbing outside nearly everyday, and not really training on plastic at all, to suddenly spending all my time inside is difficult to bear. Over the last few weeks I have often found myself questioning why I am here when I could be anywhere in the world...

Dreaming... Ah Spain I miss you!

The answer is, because I want to learn to train. I know that my true passion is for climbing outside on beautiful natural features, yet another key part of my drive to climb is about extending my limits and attempting to reach my full potential as a climber. For quite a long time I have had the feeling that training is what I need to do to make significant gains in sport climbing. This is a side of climbing that I have never explored fully, having spent most of my time progressing through simply spending countless hours on rock. This feeling was strengthened by my brief experience with training before heading back to Punks in the Gym at the end of last year - I noticed a big difference in my overall strength. Therefore, I have chosen to base myself in a place where I am forced to train... I am determined to stick to my plan of doing several moths of true training, however, it is pushing my limits in ways I had not expected.

Stratocaster, Red Rocks. Photo: Rob Pizem

Having a plan to follow is new experience for me... For many years I have been structuring my climbing days around listening to my body. So, it is a big change just doing what I am told, learning to trusting in Rob's experience and not thinking about the short term. Maintaining motivation by focusing on the long term gains. I am now a month into my program and I am trying to give each session everything I have... My body has been feeling totally destroyed most of the time, yet I have also been seeing constant improvement in my strength and have been learning a lot! Embracing this pain and documenting my improvements are the only things which are getting me through my internal struggles, and withdrawal symptoms from a lack of 'real' climbing.

Rob Pizem at the Gallery, Red Rocks

Last week Rob, Ben and I took a brief trip down to the warmth of Vegas last week to climb, which was a welcome break. It was awesome to be out in the sunshine and just climb again. It really made me notice how much harder training is than climbing... And interestingly enough, I quickly found myself missing the total body fatigue I have been getting from the workouts. Ah, life is fun!