An Update From Our Sponsored Athelete, Joe Swales

Joe SwalesBack to training. For a while now I’ve been looking to get back into competition climbing, it’s not that I ever left competitions but more I just had few opportunities to compete in them. After leaving the junior comp scene a couple of years back it almost appeared as though there weren’t as many comps for seniors as there were juniors, which to a certain extent is true. The junior comp scene offers several national comps a year, almost small milestones throughout the year to train for amongst different trips. However, when approaching senior comps, unless several local comps are enough to keep motivation high the big competitions are few and far between so if for any reason you can’t make one, the wait to the next one feels like an age. So although I still turned up to comps and tried hard, I never trained specifically for them, so in a way I wasn’t really as bothered. To further this, I feel like I had also forgotten why I was competing. I was competing because “I’m a comp climber” and “that’s my discipline, it’s what I do”, when really I needed time out of training and to just go climbing! I think it’s very easy to get caught up in training and phases and different cycles and lose sight of why we actually climb, train and compete.

 So, what’s changed? 

Mainly, the fact that I have really missed competing, not just turning up, but competing. What I really enjoyed about competing was being able to push and feel like there was a chance of doing well and (in some cases) winning. Getting nervous walking into an event and having the apprehension when you walk out is something that comes to me when I feel I have worked hard for something, though when I haven’t trained, these feelings don’t come to me. This may be because if I haven’t trained, I don’t feel that I deserve to do well, and so although I’d still like to win, I don’t try my hardest because I don’t feel I can, because I haven’t trained properly. It’s a vicious circle. To be clear, when I say I haven’t been training, I still climb. I still try hard and do specific sessions every now and then which prevent me going backwards. This spring I climbed my ‘hardest’ climb to date outside, but this is VERY different to being ‘comp fit’, of going through specific cycles and having structure to training to peak for a certain time. 

So, what’s changing?

Throughout winter I’m doing my best to find and compete in as many comps as I can to get back into the swing of the comp pressure and different formats. Alongside this I will be training with coaches Tom Greenall and Dave Mason as part of a Sheffield based group. Having a motivated group and structured plan I think will be fundamental for me and in helping achieve a higher level in my climbing. With this will come climbing with people with many different climbing styles, strengths and weaknesses and opinions in how things should be done.  More news to come on this shortly!

 

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