Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some training thoughts from Steve House

As most who follow Alpinism know, Steve House had an accident on Temple a month or so ago. I saw him in the hospital, he was a mess but in far better shape than not being a mess (Being alive sucks sometimes, but it's better than the alternatives). Anyhow, he wrote an interesting report on his blog, which got me going on his training blog.

I am a very firm believer in looking at what the best in any sport (or business or whatever) actually DO. There are many coaches who have a lot of theories, but I always look at the very best to see what got them in that position, and then work backwards. It only makes sense, but many athletes somehow follow some junk-science "program" that does little to nothing for their performance levels. In the spirit of examining "the best" I posted a link to an interview with Adam Ondra, likely the current best sport climber in the world, so that others could look at what the best did there. It is much harder to define "best" among alpinists, but Steve House is certainly successful, and is a thinking alpinist for sure. I think his training regime is instructive for anyone who wants to be an alpine climber, good of him to share it. Check out his training blog, it has some useful info and thought, and the last entry is an account of his fall on Temple and also definitely worth reading.

One of the things I'm working through in my own training is intensity, and Steve gets into that in a way I can relate to. About 20 years ago I blew up as a sport climber due to too much intensity, and then I blew up (injuries, headspace, etc) due to too much volume. As Steve notes, any training is training, and we can only handle so much of it. I'm feeling incredibly good at the moment due to a few days of rest; I was likely training too intensely in the last month, and not allowing myself enough rest. My back is still injured, but I WANT to train today, and that's a sign to me that I'm back fresh. If a workout is drudgery then you're over-trained... Get really overtrained and it may take a month or more to totally recover, and there are still sport climbers form the 90s battling chronic fatigue and other issues brought on by horrendously hard training regimes with famine-like diets, that was a very, very bad combination for a lot of us (we would all have likely been better off just eating high-quality food instead of the caloric restriction and resulting mental waste of time).

Anyhow, good reading from Steve, who I course wish a speedy recovery to!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Injury, and a few Crossfit mods as a result. Planes.

I injured my back last monday, and made it a lot worse on Thursday. Now, injured is a relative state--I define an injury as anything that keeps me from going 100 percent, or having full function compared to historical levels. My back first "twinged" while doing the 21-15-9 Snatch/chest to bar pullup combo last week. I did it as prescribed, meaning 95 lbs, 'cause I can snatch more than that relatively easily, why not try? I should have scaled way down to do 21 reps of course... So this injury is my own damn fault, as most are. I felt strong on the snatches and pullups, and went hard, especially in the last set, trying to get it unbroken, and set a competitive time (ha!). I let my back round out a bit (OK, a lot), jerked the bar a bit (OK, a lot), and basically did piss-poor quality snatches (true). I was racing the clock, myself, etc., and not focusing on what is for me a technical and complicated lift, the snatch.

My back was darn sore and tender the next day, and not in the good muscle sore way, but it didn't prevent me from working out, and doing a quick paddle session across the Columbia Gorge in my boat (fun in the wind and waves!), as well as a workout at Crossfit Hood River on Wed (thanks for that!). But on Thursday my daughter was using me as a tree, and I was bent over with my back basically parallel with the ground when she jumped forward onto my shoulders. I felt something "pop" or chunk in my lower back where it was already a bit sore, and I've been messed up (barely walking at first but getting better fast) since. My back was strained a little already, my daughter just loaded it up in a weak position. Feels like L2, but hard telling, and harder knowing what is wrong without a lot of testing that likely won't add much to the recovery prescription, which is to go easy for a bit and then re-develop function and strength with time as pain permits. There's not much that can truly be done for back injuries, even surgery (for chronic pain vs. broken bones) has a relatively low success rates. Anyhow, I'm already doing way better, but it's made me think a a lot about about doing complicated strength motions for time (for me--likely just fine for many people, I'm just not real good at moderation).

My only other injury this year was a tweaked shoulder from doing kipping pullups really fast. The kipping swing is brutal on shoulders when you're trying to punch reps out against the clock. Hmm, does my mild kipping shoulder injury have any parallels to my back injury? Racing for time, complicated motion? Hmmm....

What I've learned from this:

1. I'm not going to do any sort of highly technical lift or movement with what is for me relatively heavy weight for time. Lift heavy, go for time, but not at the same time.

2. I will drop the weight to less than half my max on any workout involving a race against the clock. Or less--if the goal is more work then less weight may mean more work...

3. I'm not doing full kipping pullups anymore, it's too temping to use shit technique in order to squeeze fast reps out at the expense of my shoulders. Maybe I'm getting old, but for me the most efficient kipping pullups are done on a "relaxed" and therefore unsupported shoulder, mine don't like that motion at all. I've had almost zero should problems over the years, it was a surprise to have 'em with kipping pullups. I'll still kip, just not full-out butterfly kip, and I'l keep the support muscles of my shoulder engaged, not relax dead-hang style on the swing. If I can no longer support my shoulder I'm getting off the bar until I can. Plus "strict" pullups are more manly, no more swinging around the bar like a d-bag, ha ha!

4. I see a lot of videos of people doing CF workouts with rounded backs, poor squats, chin below the bar, etc. etc. (like I've done!), even on the main site front page. This sort of shit technique obviously helps to get a faster time, but I don't think it's a good idea in the long run, at least for me. I would much rather be a healthy athlete long-term than a faster CFer. You can't perform if you're injured.

5, My first goal for CF workouts is now excellent form. If a rep isn't done in good form then it doesn't count (for me). If my workouts lose ten or even 50 percent of "work" done then I'm fine with that, I fucking hate being injured, and both of my recent injuries have involved racing the clock and using bad form in complicated movements as a result. If you're Rob Orlando then maybe you can round your back with a deadlift of twice your own bodyweight and apparently not suffer injury; me, I'm a skinny-ass climber, that sort of poor form is going to leave me messed up, as it has twice now.

6. I'm not bagging on what anyone else does; give 'er. I love being stronger and more functional, I just want that path to continue and not lose time 'cause I messed myself up. If you can bust out 200 pound snatches for time without injury then you're rad, I just figured out that I'm not at this type of training and have modified my approach as a result.

So, form first!

In other news, life in the Gorge is awesome, I've been out flying a Piper Pacer every day (even with a tweaked back) with Kim's dad, Joe, today we flew around Mt. Hood, fantastic! I can even taxi the thing sorta straight at a walking pace now, that is one twitchy plane. I'm fine in the air, but I'm definitely not going to be taking off or landing it anytime soon. Amazing plane, feels like you're wearing it. The difference between it and a Cessna 172 is the difference between a Ford F-150 and a Lotus. In the spirit of getting slapped down that I'm experiencing this week, I'm no Lotus driver! But I am still having a damn good time, yeah!