Training snapshot

Last winter, I was sad. I moved to Colorado at the beginning of alpine season and didn’t quite grasp the fact that it would end until.. it ended.  Suddenly there was snow everywhere and below freezing temps.  Wet shoes. Snotty noses. Stormy weekends meant gym session after gym session. My grandfather passed away. I quickly collected multiple pulley injuries.

Looking back, it wasn’t all that bad.  I was fine.  I mummy-taped my fingers, kept climbing, and made a trip out to Hueco.  The snow started to melt.  More and more weekends could be spent outside.  In the thick of it, though, it felt never-ending.

This year, I decided to be proactive knowing that I could fall into another winter slump.  This time when I went to Boulder Canyon only to be chased away by the 20 degree temps and 20 MPH winds or to Flagstaff to find wet rock, I was ready to train.  I made sure to book myself full and have plenty to work for:

  • Hueco Rock Rodeo – February 11 (followed by a week of climbing)
  • Denver Bouldering Club’s Heart and Soul Competition – February 25
  • USA Climbing’s SCS Nationals – March 10

So here is a snapshot of what the past couple of months looked like for me.

From Dave MacLeod’s 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes:

Who needs to pump iron to climb hard?

The biggest problem with weightlifting in training is the effect it has on people. When used correctly, it is a useful tool and a solution to various training problems, even in climbing. However, those who use it at all frequently over use it and choose their exercises poorly on top of this. So the net result is that weight training hinders climbing performance nearly as often as it helps it…

In general, weight training is not really the most efficient form of training for the vast majority of climbers. Nearly all climbers need to climb more… Time spent pumping iron is time not learning any climbing skills.

Maybe it is because I am some form of lazy, but my philosophy for training is exactly that: climb more.  I have done the weighted pull-up pyramids, the fingerboarding, the this and the that. But right now, I am in a place where I can easily get to the climbing gym and spend 2 or 3 hours purely climbing. This is what seems to work for me and what I believe will make me a better climber. I learn something every single time I climb because there are so many parts of movement that I have yet to master.  There are so many moves I have never done, so many I have never even tried!

Climbing more doesn’t necessarily mean projecting more. Climbing more means training that incorporates power endurance drills, treadwall, volume, etc. This month, I started climbing 5 days a week rather than only 4.

Anyways, here is an example week from last month:

Monday: rest

Tuesday: try to onsight/flash as many climbs from the reset as possible. Project harder climbs. Project on Moonboard then start to cool down and try to flash easier climbs on the board.  This ends up being about 1.5 hours of hard projecting. Short core workout (either TRX or floor exercises).

Wednesday: try and onsight/flash fill-in climbs on reset wall.  Climb on tread wall: 3 sets of 5 minutes on, 5 minutes rest. 3 sets of 5 minute drill [try and complete a climb one or two grades below redpoint level 3 times within a 5 minute period. 45 seconds to complete a climb is good and allows for about 45 seconds of rest between repeats, 5 minute rests between sets]. 3 sets of link-ups: link 3 boulder problems together, up a climb ~3-4 grades below redpoint, down easy climb, up a climb ~2-3 grades below redpoint. This is about 2.5 minutes on the wall, with 2.5 minutes rest.

Thursday: project ~1-1.5 hours. Short core workout.

Friday: rest

Saturday: try and get outside!

Sunday: repeat of Wednesday’s power endurance/ endurance drills

The order of the days really isn’t structured.  Sometimes I projected Tuesday and Wednesday, then did endurance on Thursday.  Or I did less endurance and more projecting on a Sunday.  I wanted to periodize this training in order to “peak” for Hueco, so I climbed about 20 sessions without taking more than one day of rest.  Now, about a week and a half before Hueco, I took two days off from climbing and will lighten up on the sessions until I leave!

I am happy with how the training schedule turned out: I feel like I am climbing very well and also have not gotten injured!! More than anything, I am just happy I made it through the bulk of winter 🙂

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Murphy on a snowy day in Boulder Canyon
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Journal Club #1: Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes

Almost two months ago, I adopted a vegetarian (well, pescatarian) diet.  This may or may not have had something to do with the incoming White House administration and the new head of the EPA, ahem… but I am not longer eating meat.  I have a lot of questions as to how this diet change will or will not affect my climbing and my interest in athlete nutrition was piqued.  Luckily, I work for the University of Colorado and am fortunate to have access to thousands of scientific journal articles and I have taken advantage of this.  I’ve decided to share my notes and thoughts from the articles I read on my blog in a series I will call “Journal Club” 🙂 Hopefully, these posts will be helpful to others who don’t find them too boring, as I know they will be helpful to me at least for having a place to keep all of my notes.

So with that… for Journal Club #1:

Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes; Susan I. Barr and Candice A. Rideout (Nutrition 20:696-703, 2004)

*Disclaimer: it was really difficult to find any more recent publications on this topic!

NOTES

**Key: From the paper/ My comments

Macronutrients

Protein

  • Typical recommendations are 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg/d for endurance athletes and up to 1.7 g/kg/d for resistance and strength-trained athletes… However, the Institute of Medicine recently concluded that the evidence for increased requirements for physically active individuals was not compelling and suggested that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
    • I consider bouldering to be resistance/strength-training.  So basically one recommendation is double that of the other! After looking at previously logged food diaries, I eat between 80-100 grams of protein per day which is closer to the 1.7 g/kg/d value.
  • It was concluded that a separate recommendation for protein consumption was not required for vegetarians who consume diary products or eggs and complementary mixtures of high-quality plant proteins.
  • However, the issue of protein quality was recognized as a potential concern for individuals who avoid all animal protein sources (e.g., vegans) because plant proteins may be limiting in lysine, threonine, tryptophan, or sulfur-containing amino acids.
    • Straight dairy tends to upset my stomach, so I eat eggs and make smoothies with milk kefir and whey protein.
  • The literature is consistent in reporting that vegetarians’ protein intakes are lower than those of omnivores. However, protein intakes are generally well above the RDA in both groups, suggesting that in most cases adequacy of protein intake is not a concern.
    • Again, I eat closer to 1.7 g/kg/d which is about double the RDA.

Micronutrients

Iron

  • Numerous studies have demonstrated that the total iron intake of vegetarians is similar to or greater than that of non-vegetarians
  • Iron occurs in the food supply in two chemical forms: heme and non-heme.  Heme iron represents about 40% of the iron in meat, fish, and poultry. It is more efficiently absorbed than non-heme iron. By definition, vegetarian diets contain no heme iron.
  • In addition to differences in the amount of heme iron provided, vegetarian and omnivorous diets may vary with respect to other dietary factors that can enhance or inhibit iron absorption.. compared with the non-vegetarian diet, non-heme iron absorption from the vegetarian diet was 70% lower and total iron absorption was approximately one-sixth.
  • Based on these various considerations, recommended iron intakes for vegetarians are increased by 80% to compensate for the reduced bioavailability of iron from vegetarian diets.
    • I take an iron supplement that is 140% of the daily value, which should be plenty.  The only question that I have is that I bought a vegan iron supplement and I wonder if that is any different than a non-vegan supplement. 
    • In regards to other micronutrients, I take a women’s multivitamin 😀

Other Dietary Components

Creatine: A Potential Ergogenic Aid

  • A large majority of the body creatine pool is found in muscle, primarily in the form of phosphocreatine, and serves as a temporary storage site for adenosine triphosphate (ATP). During periods of rest, cretine combines with ATP to form phosphocreatine and adenosine diphosphate. During exercise, phosophocretine is split to yield creatine and ATP, which is in turn used to fuel muscle contraction.
  • Thus a larger body creatine pool could prolong supramaximal intensity exercise and/or shorten recovery time between repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise.
    • Basically, more creatine = more ATP = more fuel for muscle contraction
  • Lukaszuk et al. found that adopting a vegetarian diet led to a reduction in muscle As a group,creatine concentration.
  • Shomrat et al. provided seven vegetarians and nine omnivores with creatine supplements (21 g/d) for 1 wk and assessed anaerobic exercise before and after supplementation. Both groups experienced an increase in anaerobic performance.
  • THese data suggest that vegetarian atheletes who participate in sports that rely on the ATP/phosphocreatine system may experience greater benefits than their omnivorous peers from creatine supplementation. Despite good evidence of positive physiologic effects, however, the need for caution regarding creatine supplementation has been stressed.
    • I would like to find more recent research on this topic.

TL;DR

Conclusion

  1. Based on limited observational data, well planned, appropriately supplemented vegetarian diets appear to effectively support atheletic performance
  2. Provided protein intakes are adequate to meet needs for total nitrogen and the essential amino acids, plant and animal protein sources appear to provide equivalent support to athletic training and performance.
  3. As a group, vegetarian athletes may be at increased risk for non-anemic iron deficiency, which appears to limit endurance performance.
  4. As a group, vegetarians have lower mean muscle creatine concentrations than do omnivores, and this may affect supramaximal exercise performance.

Thoughts

I think as long as I keep supplementing my diet and make sure I eat enough protein, being vegetarian is just fine for climbing! I haven’t noticed any drop in performance since I stopped eating meat, and I might even be eating better now that I am paying closer attention to my nutrition.

Future topics to research:

  • Daily protein intake?
  • Creatine supplementation (next journal club)
  • Vegan iron vs. regular iron

 

Why blog?

As the New Year rolls in, I once again find myself staring at my WordPress site.  This blog that I started during college has found itself abandoned since I’ve moved to Colorado.

A handful of times, I have sat down at my computer with the determination to write a full blog post, proofread it well, and actually publish it.  I choose a playlist to get in the ~writing*~ mood, type a witty title, and… Those sittings quickly turn into me browsing for a new theme (my blog is way pretty now, though), scrolling through Facebook, or shutting my computer and going to watch TV.

Why does this happen?  Laziness?  Apathy?  Fear?  All of the above?

I began this blog after a 3 year break of being burned out from climbing.  I was at a university with a very small, almost nonexistent, climbing community and I needed an outlet. Blogging was an easy way to accomplish this. I didn’t share my URL with anyone; this was essentially my diary.

But the fact is that I don’t need this as a diary anymore.  I don’t exactly have an audience demanding posts (I have about 5 followers, a few of which I am fairly convinced are bots).  I don’t want to write posts that others have already written much more eloquently.  I don’t want to spill my soul onto the Internet.  So why blog?

I guess after a year, I have some things that I want to say and share.  So that is what I will try my best to do…no promises though 🙂

Stay tuned (or not).

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Here is Rory with a turtle on her head.