dog house

… and we’re back!

I realised today, that this year I have climbed more in the great outdoors than stuck in a climbing gym. This is big, and I mean epic. I have never been able to say that before, and I say a lot of things.

Could be the totes-amaze weather, or the easier access to a car. Could just be that nothing compares to the feel of proper rock. I am still a total scaredy-cat, but that’s OK with me. A quick panic half way up is not unusual to make sure I am tied in properly, even if my knot has been checked, twice. In retrospect, I did get halfway up a route once to find I hadn’t tied in at all… We’ve all been there though… haven’t we? right?

I have, however, decided that roadside crags are not for me. Thank you, but no.

The plan: Super-set me today, hitting the legs and butt!… only in a good way… Warm up, not really a problem since it is about 30degs out there, then:

4 circuits of:

  • Deadlifts x 8
  • Single leg step up x8

Then, 4 circuits of:

  • Straight leg deadlifts x 8
  • Barbell bridges x 8



into thin air

‘We will stomp to the top with the wind in our teeth’ ~ George Leigh Mallory

Currently re-reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. A personal account of an expedition to the summit of Everest in 1996 which left 8 people dead after being caught in a storm.

Originally written as an article for Outside magazine (read it here), it was then worked up into a book. Given the subject matter, it does not make for easy reading, and has not been without controversy.

Make your own judgement. Read the first page, I challenge you to put it down.

Now for something a little lighter:

The plan: get out there and play! Run around, wave your hands in the air, like you just don’t care… ‘coz you don’t!

Then, I suggest you pop on over to CultFit for today’s words of wisdom and workout, it is a cracker today!

Have a great weekend.


climbing at St. Jeannet

The weather had been epically bad in the UK. Rain, rain, how about a bit more rain? Going to the South of France to catch some rays and get in some climbing seemed just the thing to do!

After arriving at Nice and being whacked over the head with the heat of the Mediterranean it seemed that a rethink was in order… over an ice-cream.

The aim was to go to Saint Jeannet, a small town west of Nice nestled at the foot of an impressive cliff, the Baou, offering a good mix of single and multi pitch sport climbing on limestone. A scouting mission without gear to check out the area was mounted. It soon became obvious, this was going to be hot. Very hot.

The Main Face

The two main areas aimed at were La Source (mostly single pitch) and the Main Face (multi pitch), with the south-east side of the cliff in the sun most of the day and the Main Face in the sun from about 12:30pm. An hour or so hike to the top of the Baou Cliff gave plenty of time to consider hauling one’s butt up a near vertical cliff in the direct sun. Good view at the top mind! At the foot of the Baou lies La Source, now this seemed far more promising with the area shaded by trees and massive rocks (best not to dwell on how they got there).

This called for a bit more of a think (and more ice-cream).

After a couple of days of cooling off in the sea and swimming with the fishies a trip to La Source was called for. Here there is a nice range of grades, ranging from 3 up. On some of the more popular routes the rock is quite polished, mmm soapy. Lots of different styles of climbing too, including some nice fingery slabs (polish not helping!).

(A couple of sea, sun, and ice-cream days later)

On the Main Face there was a tempting 200m 9 pitch climb. All the grades were with in reach, the main issue seemed to be that we would only have about 4 hours till the route would be in full force of the sun. The plan: to give the first couple of pitches a go, and see how it goes, otherwise abseil down if there are any problems. The earliest we could reaching St. Jeannet was 7:45 in the morning, and setting off I thought we were making good time. Wrong. Just the approach to the first pitch covered some tricky scrambles and took longer than expected. In retrospect, should probably have treated them more as climbs since several bolts for protection were passed on the way up. Finally, the first pitch was found!

Booted and ready to go! Since I was seconding, I carried the day pack, including about 4 liters of water, lunch, guide book and other essentials (not to mention a bit of ‘just in case’ kit). I have never carried a pack while climbing before and it threw my balance right out of the window. Although the fist pitch was not hard, it was soapy and not very well protected. Some trad gear came in handy here.

After watching the second pitch being lead over a balancey traverse it became apparent that doubles would have been good. Also, if I had issues on the first pitch carrying the pack (I blame the baguette), the second would be very hard. Time, was also not on our side, and neither of us wanted to be half way up the cliff at the hottest part of the day. Some hard choices would have to be made.

After a quick discussion it was decided not to continue and abseil down. It was the right (if unsatisfactory) choice.  It is not easy to back off a climb, but easier to do it early on rather than halfway up in the midday sun.  Some fun abseiling followed (through some very prickly local plants). Then after reversing the approach (this time with a rope) we went to La Source, to enjoy some more of the excellent single pitch climbs in the shade. Followed by beer and ice-cream… of course!

The plan now is to return at a cooler time of the year with doubles and a better way to distribute load.




marathon training – week 1

Big day, yesterday. Completed the first ‘long run’ in my marathon training program. 6 miles of wishing I had worn a long sleeve top left me with a distinct chill. Nothing a cup of tea and a hot bowl of tomato soup didn’t fix!

Me being the lazy soul that I am, have opted for a training program that specifies just 3 runs a week. I have adapted it from one of Hal Higdon’s programs, so I can add climbing and strength training into the mix, wouldn’t want those to slide.

So, in theory, each week will include 1 long run, 1 easy run, and 1 tempo, pace, hill, or fartlek run. I will also try to fit in conditioning sessions, and climbing sessions… Here is a more complete view of my training plan. How realistic is it? Well, probably not very!

By my calculations, I have 23 weeks to train (including this one). Here is how this week is shaping up:

Sunday (yesterday) – 6 mile long run
Monday – conditioning + climbing
Tuesday 3 mile easy run + conditioning
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – fartleks
Friday – conditioning
Saturday – climbing

One day done, so far so good!

what’s my motivation?

Good question.

What motivates me to train? What motivates you?

I train for lots of reasons. As I am sure most people do. Here are some reasons, in vague order of importance:

  1. I get a grump on if I don’t (this is mostly important for friends and family who put up with me)
  2. I find it fun! Not just the sports, but the workouts too. I enjoy the challenge
  3. To perform better at my chosen sports, which are climbing and running at the moment (more about this in a later post)
  4. When I train, I tend to eat better  (I will come back to this one in a later post) and sleep better
  5. Boosts confidence. Knowing I can push hard and keep going, that I can rise to challenges and over come them, that I can be self disciplined, are all amazing for boosting confidence at any task.
  6. To improve over all long-term health.
  7. I like a fit body

 So they are some of my reasons. I am sure they will change and shift over the years, but for now…

Sometimes if you are having trouble sticking to or starting to train, or eat healthy, or just stuck in a rut, it can be good to go back to the beginning and remind yourself why you are doing it in the first place.

So, what’s your motivation?

lurgy got me workout

Don’t let it get you! Friday I was not feeling so hot. So, what did I do? I pushed it super hard in training. Felt awesome. Then terrible.

Result: a weekend moping about the flat with Lurgy.

Conclusion: don’t play with the Lurgy or it will hang about and invite its friends.

Now the weekend is over, I feel fine, back at work. Typical!

To celebrate, let’s do some HIIT before a climbing session tonight! 3 rounds of the following 6 exercise, 10 seconds rest, 50 seconds maximum reps!

  • High knee skipping (133, 120, 100)
  • Knee rasies (24, 21, 24)
  • Full burpees (that means including the press up) (7, 7, 5)
  • 90 degree medicine ball touch (36, 33, 34)
  • High knee skipping (118, 113, 114)
  • Side plank hip raises, alternate sides (13, 14, 15)

To cool off, 12 minutes moderate freestyle skipping (10 seconds rest, 50 on)

Put the beat up.

abs-olutely workout

You can.

You absolutely can.

Train hard, climb hard, run hard, eat lard (optional), max it out, take it to the limit.

Then a bit further…

 HIIT, three rounds of the following six exercises (10 seconds rest, 50 seconds work)

  • High knees skipping
  • Medicine ball knee tuck, then leg back and up, then press up (feet on the medicine ball) alternate legs
  • Jumping jacks skipping
  • Medicine ball jump lunge, extend arms with ball and twist over front leg
  • Scissors skipping
  • 90 degree medicine ball touch

Then cool down with 12 minutes skipping, free style (10 seconds rest, 50 seconds work)

You can.

read between the climbs workout

No time for workout. Gotta work today. Then meeting up for a climb tonight.

What are you talking about?! No time? Make time!

Fact: there will be three of us tonight. Throwing some shapes on the wall (sorry). But, when I am not climbing, when I am not belaying, I will be working it out.

How about a round of the following?:

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 press ups
  • 50 walking lunges
  • 10 tricep dips

Still got some time left?

  • 5  wall walks (start in plank with feet on the wall then walk your hands towards the wall and your feet up it till vertical. Then come back down. Keep back straight and abs fully on)

Still not your turn to climb?

  • Find two holds and pump out some pull ups or assisted pull ups

Go climb, then do it all again.

Count it up, must be a workout in there somewhere.

sardinia dreaming, 2011

"What's the rope for?"

Seems like a dream.

It wasn’t.

At least, I don’t think it was…

My first sports climbing holiday. Not a weekend. Or a day. A whole week of it.

Flying into Sardinia was a little rocky, with cross winds gently telling the plane who is boss. Then a 2 hour drive to the town of Cala Gonone where we were warmly greeted by the owners of a chalet we had rented for the week. She had baked us a cake, seriously! After a walk along the beach, pizza, a few beers and an early night, we were up bright as buttons for the first day on the rocks!

The first crag, Cala Fuili, was just down the road and directly on the beach. Single pitch and varying difficulty. After a couple of climbs to get the feel of it, it became apparent that the rock was grippy, super grippy. Although my first climb was terrible, I got into the swing of things after the second or third. Then down to the beach for a sandwich of cheese and salami (this became a staple), a little swim in the sea, then over to another set of climbs.

The next day we ventured to Budinetto. A super crag with amazing views. Here we found a mixture of single and multi pitches. After warming up on some single pitches in the morning, we decided to go for a 2 stage multi pitch. Shame we ended up way off route, but lucky we had taken some trad gear up with us! You will not find this route in a guide-book, but if you find yourself climbing past a bee hive, sing – i’m just a little black rain cloud… Pooh, where are you, little bear friend?

Claire, Jim, me, Jon, at the top

Back at the car we found a little kitty sheltering from the sun. Cute as.

After a day off sea kayaking, we explored further down the beach to a cave called Biddiriscottai. This wasn’t my favorite crag on the trip. The rock felt greasy from the sea breeze. Still, we frolicked around there for the day, had fun, then went for post climb drinkies.

On our final full day we set our sites on a four pitch climb at La Poltrona.

An incredible slab with several multi pitches. That morning we made it up a 110m route. Actually, I think we over shot it. Maybe I should sort out my route reading skills. Although it wasn’t a technically difficult climb, it was my first 4 stage multi pitch, and I lead the last two stages. So I was pretty chuffed. Then after a spot of lunch, we finished the afternoon on some of the other great single pitches.

Just time on the last day to nip back to Cala Fuili for a couple of climbs and a dip, before returning home.

Simply the best holiday. Can’t wait for this year’s season to begin.

Go team! Jon, me, Claire and Jim