Doug and I will be leaving Cairns in a couple of weeks, and while looking forward to travelling again I've also been reflecting on our summer in Cairns. I am happy to report that articulating my goals – a new thing – was a good thing. I stayed focused throughout the summer and achieved my three rather measly goals.
This summer has been hugely different to other summers in my life because I haven't been out rambling around the mountains all the time. In fact, apart from bouldering a couple of times each week, I haven't done any serious climbing since we left southeast Queensland. Aside from our four day sea kayaking trip from Bramston Beach to Cairns, I haven't even done any overnight trips. So, for a few months I have had a regular gym and bouldering schedule with some easy recovery type (walking, biking, kayaking) activities in between. This is vastly different from a Canadian summer where you try and cram in as many climbing and mountaineering days as you can before the long winter moves in, and work-outs are sporadic only. Obviously, the latter (performance) is what really matters, but, the former means you make bigger gains at the gym/bouldering wall.
Dany cranking at Vantage
Really, no-one can serve two masters. You can't pack on muscle and perform well in the gym when you are out catabolizing your muscle on long mountain days, nor can you beat yourself down day after day in the mountains and expect to come back and post big weights in the gym. To a certain extent, I agree with the axiom that “you are what you do” and, if you want to climb well, then your first priority should be climbing. But, I know that when I lift heavy (squats, deadlifts and the like) I climb better because heavy weights train your trunk muscles so effectively.
In addition to training regularly this summer, I've also trained smart. Smart for me means working as hard as I can one day, and then resting the next. Not resting as in lie on the couch and eat Lamingtons; a more appropriate term would be active rest. Easy bouldering, hiking, biking or kayaking. Things that allow me to move my body through a range of motion while letting my muscles heal up all those micro tears and grow stronger. Another way in which you can't serve two masters. If you want to get strong, you need to work hard, then rest. Endless hard work doesn't actually make you stronger in the long run. It just tears you down. As a neurotic exerciser, these have been hard lessons for me to learn. I'm still surprised, at over 50, to find myself stronger than ever while working out less. Not unhappy you understand, just surprised.
Post script: check out my latest favorite podcast - the Enormocast.