Saturday, February 22, 2014


It's raining in Cairns today, a fluctuating mixture of light sprinkles and heavy down-pours. The cane fields are back to looking like rice paddies, Freshwater Creek is running fast and brown, the air is cool and the temperature pleasant. It is over three months since I posted my goals for the summer in Cairns, about half-way through the total length of time we will spend here. I should, therefore, based on simple mathematics, be half way to my goals.
  • Climb the roof at the Esplanade – check.
  • Squat 50 kg, deadlift 70 kg – half a check. I'm working a 50 kg back squat, but only a 65 kg deadlift.
  • Eskimo roll four times out of five – check.
I'm pretty happy with my improvement in strength and fitness. I am lifting the heaviest weights I have ever lifted (not bad as I sidle over half a century) and I have climbed the roof at the Esplanade a few times. I've gone from dreading tackling the roof to having a blast spidering across the roof.

 Arizona granite

Simple mathematics would dictate that I have pretty much reached my goals, and yet I haven't. I wanted to have some measurable goals so that I didn't flake off, get side-tracked, not work hard, or, in some other shape or form, kid myself that I was making progress when I wasn't. But, in the end, what really matters is performance, not random numbers. 

It would be really cool to get out and climb some real rock and see if my improvements in overall strength and climbing fitness have made the Australian sandbag grades seem any easier, but, Cairns in the middle of a tropical summer doesn't offer much roped climbing. One thing is clear, although I have rolled four times out of five on two occasions (only two), my eskimo roll is no where near reliable, which is really the performance measure that actually matters. 

 Aussie Sandstone

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and feeling frustrated with my slow progress towards a more reliable eskimo roll. For a couple of weeks, when it was raining heavily, I really lacked much motivation to get out and practise and that set me back a stage. Motivation, however, isn't really necessary, discipline is. So, now I am focusing on discipline. Discipline is practising twice a week regardless of motivation, and, starting on a sliding ladder of three, getting three successful rolls for three successive sessions (no limit on how many attempts that takes), then four successful rolls for four successive sessions, and so forth. 

Finally, I am changing my gym workouts and going back to doing Alpine Center WOD's. After three months of Stronglifts, I am continuously cycling up and down to add 2.5 kg to each lift (with the exception of deadlifts where I am still steadily adding weight). This is not necessarily a bad thing as I am still progressing (albeit slowly), but I now have to rest 3 to 5 minutes between each set. Not only is this tedious and time consuming, but it is nothing like what I do in real life. This kind of protocol is excellent if you have never done any weight training at all and want to build some strength, but I want to be fit and strong more than I want to stand about resting just so I can get one more rep out.  Lastly, give this a read. On the surface, it's about climbing, but the principles are transferable across all sports.

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