I think I can do it. I red-pointed my first 11c at the NRG, Ghandian Dilution. If I can do that, and continue to improve my training, and eat well, then I actually think 12a is within reach. Topics in this post include:

  • Finding Your Unicorn Climb
  • Overnight RHR, Recovery, and Alcohol
  • April’s training summary

Finding My Unicorn 12a

I define a unicorn climb, as a climb that is at your absolute limit, but it suits your style and strengths just enough that you can pull it off. For example my unicorn 12a is much more likely to be a slightly overhung climb or a face climb than slab.

The crux on Ghandian Dilution, an 11c, was one very powerful move pulling the roof where you have to grab this big feature with all four limbs, much like the kitten grabbing the ball of yarn above. This is followed by 4 or 5 less intense moves you have to do while pretty pumped. Then, there are a few more draws to the anchors, but the climbing is very easy.

I believe that there is lot of truth in the importance of finding the climb that is right for you. For example, Coffindaffer’s Dream, a 4 star 11b at the NRG, I am totally happy never trying that climb again because I know that I have no clue how to get through the crux at my height. 🙂

On the other hand, climbs like Legacy, Satisfaction, Discombobulated, Sancho Belige are all climbs at the NRG that I know I could red point. They are on my list of climbs to clean up.

I have to find the right 12a climb. Current candidates are Starry, Pockets of Resistance, and Narcissus. These are literally the only three 12a climbs I have ever been on at the New River Gorge. Also, there is Knuckle Sauce at the RRG. Hopefully one of those climbs is my unicorn 12a.

Here is an article the REI-Co-Op wrote that gets into this topic a bit, the importance of finding a climb and style you love.

Resting Heart Rate: Recovery and Alcohol Consumption

Screen shot of my Garmin data. I LOVE my Garmin.

This screen shot with data from my Garmin shows me two things: the impact of not drinking alcohol on my recovery and the impact of strenuous exercise on resting overnight heart rate. First the alcohol.

If I drink alcohol on a day that my resting HR should not be elevated from a hard workout, my resting overnight HR will in fact be elevated be 2-3 BPM because of the alcohol. This, to me, proves that alcohol impacts the quality of my recovery. This article explains it beautifully.

Am I going to stop drinking on climbing trips? No. Should I not drink or drink very little on the first/strongest days of a trip? Yes.

Second, the elevated heart rate after an intense workout. Saturday April 3, Rob and I went mountain biking when we arrived at the NRG. We did about 7 miles. I am very new to mountain biking, so I worked my a$$ off on that ride. My HR got up to 90% of my max HR. Due to the strenuous ride followed by drinking, my resting heart rate was quite high that night.

This article explains it. After a strenuous training session, your resting heart rate will remains elevated. You are only fully recovered from that training when your resting HR returns to its normal low. The take away here, is to use overnight resting heart rate to adjust performance and training goals for the next day.

Alcohol, Intense Training, and Increased Heart Rate: More Proof of the Positive Correlation

My Garmin lets me be my own guinea pig.

This screen shot from my Garmin data shows how low my resting heat rate can be on a week of normal training with no alcohol. On bouldering and lifting days my HR increased to the 90s and low 100s. However it remained fairly low overnight, indicating good recovery from each day’s training.

On April 17th, I ran a 1600, 1200, 800, and 400 at the track at an 8 minute mile pace to see what my max HR was. The cardiovascular intensity of the training was much higher than bouldering or lifting, and this is seen in the recovery HR of only 58. My resting heart rate shows that I was not fully recovered after only one night sleep.

It is important to note the difference of 3 BPM between the day I ran a ladder at the track versus the day of mountain biking. 58 BPM vs 61 BPM. This is due to adding alcohol into the heavy training mix.

The Nail in the Coffin: Alcohol is Bad for Recovery

66, 65, 61, 60, 63 BPM overnight resting heart rate. No recovery here.

66, 65, 61, 63. This is 10 BMP higher than my RHR should be to indicate recovery. Ten BPM higher. TEN BPM. Each night I slept, my heart beat 4,800 extra times working to move blood to recover. 4,800 times too many.

Did I dig a deep recovery hold to get out of on April 3rd by going on a 7 mile mountain bike ride the day before I wanted to red point Legacy and Discombobulated, which I didn’t do? Yes. 100%. Lol.

I also didn’t do myself any favors by drinking every night of that trip. My recovery heart rates could have been more like 63, 62, 58, 57 had I not drank.

Am I going to stop drinking on climbing trips? No. Should I wait to start drinking until after I have sent a couple of projects? Yes.

April’s Training Log

April’s Training Log

Without my training log, I would be pretty lost. I wouldn’t have any evidence of how far I have come. I wouldn’t know how consistent I have been with training. I wouldn’t be able to guess at gaps in my training to target improvement.

As far as training gains in April, there is nothing noteworthy. In fact, the opposite is noteworthy. After a climbing trip, I feel that it takes me a while to feel strong again. Like trips take a lot out of me. Not sure why!

Hopefully I feel stronger in May!

Area needing improvement: stretching.

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