Winter Training – Rock Climbing and Running

Not the kind of thing that mixes well.  Different shoes, different attitudes and – oh my – different muscles.  Interestingly I have found a huge increase in my stability and WOW what a difference that makes.  I’m not a speedy runner, I’m slow and steady, but I’ll keep on going and going and going.  Working on strengthening those muscles that are not really used during running has reduced most of my very obvious niggles to a background niggle that can be sorted out when I’m back home and finished.  It’s the start of a very interesting journey that will keep me going back for more. 

Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed since I started the rock climbing course. 

My slouch is disappearing. For all those desk jockeys that lean over their keyboard or lean on the desk. That position encourages your shoulders to curl forward and your head to sit in front of your torso. This can cause headaches and backache.  So I’ve been told and I have suffered from them myself.  I constantly find myself leaning back and stretching my arms behind my head to release the tension in my shoulders.  Using my arms to stabilise and propel me forward when running has felt like I’m moving around lead weights. I’m sure that will improve once I get stronger. 

I’ve found that my focus and approach to rock climbing is helping me tackle what appears to be impossible with a cool, calm, calculated approach. Sit back. Look at your options. Calculate your next move. Are you physically able to reach/hold the next step? Can my body twist into the pretzel position? How long can I hold on? Keep moving!!

That ache or shake you get when muscles are tired.  I’m utterly useless at the plank position.  20 seconds has been my maximum since I started running again in 2009. I blamed it on my two caesareans but like everything else in life – blame is lame!! I’m climbing and my stomach is on fire with tiredness, hands feel like letting go and I’m shattered but I keep moving and climbing! What I thought was my maximum was not at all. My body was lying to me! My plank time is now 40 seconds and improving each week.

The shoes are radically different. Running/trail shoes designed with comfort and support whilst you pound your feet through every step when running.  Rock climbing is a completely different affair.  Shoes fitting so snuggly that your toes have nowhere to move. It feels alien to have my trail shoe slippers replace with shoes that have my feet bound so tightly it feels uncomfortable to walk in them. I didn’t think such a tight shoe would let my foot work but wow! Toe ache! Not from being crushed into a shoe but from working to keep hold of those tiny little wedges stuck on the climbing wall. Constantly standing on tip toe or on the side of my foot or the arch or the outside. Wow! What a workout for the foot!

At the moment this is making running that little bit tougher but I’m noticing that my form and foot placement has completely changed. I’ve improved since running distance but here’s hoping that this rock climbing lark will add another piece to the puzzle of “why can’t I run fast?”.

Happy running and climbing 🙂

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