365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

FF2 – Week 2

Tuesday night this week was Week Two of our Fast Forward climbing class at the gym. Since I was in Baltimore at training all day Squeaks and I arrived at the gym separately. Once we got there we learned that one of our classmates had seriously injured her shoulder over the weekend playing football and wouldn’t be able to climb again for some time. So our group of 5 was suddenly down to 4.

This weeks lesson was about ‘flagging’. Flagging is a climbing technique used to help a climber keep their balance on the wall. In week one we learned about ‘turning’ – where you keep the inside hip (the same hip as the hand you’re reaching up with) into the wall so that you have better balance and a longer reach. Well sometimes when you do that you can feel off balance. Flagging would be where you kick out (ok not really kick but I can’t think of a better word at the moment) your other foot (opposite of where you’re trying to go) to help balance you. So, if you’re reaching up with your right hand… your right foot is what you’re stepping up with and your right hip is into the wall. Before you move (i.e. step up and reach) you ‘flag’ your left foot out to the side to achieve a ‘three point balance’ (looks kinda like a triangle) on the wall. Your left foot CAN be on a hold or it can just be resting against the wall to balance you as you move up.

After warming up and getting our little lesson on flagging Molly (our instructor) got us going on some long climbs. We started on some easy grade stuff.. 5.7s and 5.8s. Then once we’d gotten the hang of it (Squeaks and I have actually been flagging as we climbed for some time now so this was a relatively easy thing to grasp) she moved us up to things that we found hard. For me this was 5.9s or 5.8s on a roof… for Squeaks, this was 5.10s or 5.9s on a roof. As we climbed Molly watched us, critiqued us and gave us tips for getting better and stronger. She pushed us hard… and it was great.

By the end of the night my hands and forearms were KILLING me. More than they have in some time. In fact, they are still a bit sore from the workout. Honestly, that’s a good thing. Being pushed forces you to break through your mental barriers and move up to the next level – which is exactly why Squeaks and I wanted to take this class. At the moment my biggest barrier is that I hesitate on the really hard moves. I think about it too much and stop myself from actually doing it. I need to practice just going for it and not being worried about missing the move. It’s not the end of the world if I do and in top roping it doesn’t even mean I will fall (very far). It’s a mental game more than anything else. I need to spend less energy thinking about how I am going to get that move and more time just telling myself I CAN get it and going for it with everything I’ve got… that plus I need to build some strength in my upper body and that only comes from pushing myself to climb stuff that’s a lot harder than I THINK I can climb.

Failure is how we learn and improve. It instills a drive to ‘get it next time’. So, in preparation for FF2 – The Final Week (next week) I will be climbing my butt off this weekend and pushing myself harder than I have in a long time. This is most definitely something I want to improve at. And if I can figure out how to get over my hesitation in climbing… it’ll probably help me get over my hesitation in other areas of my life as well.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Climbing | , , , , | Leave a comment

FF 2 – Week 1

A couple of days ago I mentioned the Squeaks and I were starting to take a climbing class at the gym called Fast Forward 2 (aka FF2). I said that each week I would try and provide some summary of how it’s going and what we learned. The class was on Tuesday evening and I had intended to write about it yesterday but that little incident with the vitamin kinda stole the show. So today’s post will cover our first class.

There were 5 of us total in the class. Two guys, and three women. The guys are a bit more into bouldering (shorter, more challenging ‘problems’ that are generally climbed without a harness using crashpads as protection). The girls were all top rope climbers. We’ve all been climbing for various lengths of time but our goal was really all the same – to get better at climbing and figure out how to break through to the next level of our abilities. As an icebreaker our instructor (Molly) asked us all to talk about what our most interesting scar was. There were folks who’d sliced open hands with metal sheeting, split open there foot with a misguided swing of an ax, tripped and banged up knees in a most peculiar fashion. Me…. well my most interesting scar happened when I was about three years old. I was in a car accident and had been standing up in the back seat of the car (it was the 80s.. people were… crazy) and when we rear ended the car in front of us I flew head first into the dashboard of the car and split my head open (insert jokes about that explaining a lot about my current personality, blah, blah blah, here :)) . There were a ridiculous amount of stitches (both internal and external) but the interesting part about the scar was that (according to my mom) the shape of it formed and upside down J – which happens to be the first initial of my name if you didn’t notice. I still have the faint remnants of the scar today but you can barely see it and it doesn’t really look like a J anymore although you can probably figure out how it did if you looked closely at it. It was a fun icebreaker for a bunch of climbers to share battle stories. But it was very interesting (although not surprising) that the only one of us with a climbing related scar was our instructor.

Now to the meat of the class. The name of FF2 (besides Fast Forward 2) was “Turning”. Turning is a technique in climbing where you keep your hip (right or left depending on the hand you’re reaching up with) turned into the wall. It extends your reach, improves your balance and actually saves energy when climbing. Squeaks and I met a climbing shortly after we started climbing that taught us a little about turning and the advantages it could provide so I guess it’s fair to say we were a little ahead of the class in week 1. But even still, we did learn some new things. For example, you use significantly less energy if you keep you arms straight and your knees bent as you climb. It puts a lot more emphasis on your lower body and allows you to rest comfortably (for the most part). But when you’re not used to climbing like that it can take some getting used to. Molly gave us some practice activities (traversing forwards and backwards paying attention to our hands and feet) and then we started to climb. Mostly we stayed on easy climbs but the goal was to turn with every single move. To get comfortable with the movement. After the class Molly gave each of us something to practice for next week – for me it was to keep my arms straight… I have a habit of trying to pull myself up tight BEFORE I turn and make the next move up the wall and it’s wasting a lot of my energy.

After class was done Squeaks and I stuck around for about an hour to practice some of the stuff we learned. Since she’s headed out of town to visit family for the weekend it was really the only time between classes that we’d get to practice. I am actually hoping that I can convince my BF to climb with me on Sunday afternoon so that I can practice a bit more… but that will depend on the results of his boys night on Saturday I suppose…. honestly not really expecting the climbing thing will happen…. Maybe Monday after work 🙂

Anyway, that’s the quick update on how FF2 Week 1 was. Some of it was stuff we’d already learned – and been doing to some degree in our climbing already. But some of it was really good tips for saving energy and improving our overall climbing technique. I am actually quite looking forward to next week’s class.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Climbing | , , , , | Leave a comment