Training in England – What did I learn?

Some of you have been asking me how my trip the England was in Dec 2019-Jan 2020. So here’s a summary for you.

The day after I landed in London, I met Louis Parkinson at Catalyst Climbing for some dynoing, coordination, running and jumping trickery – basically everything I am bad at. I have learnt that I have to broaden my skill set, and not be scared to try moves I usually avoid. All the problems we got on followed the same trend. Initially I was nervous and intimidated to try them, but after breaking down the movements, and over 10 attempts (sometimes even 30 attempts!) I actually stuck the tricky moves. Louis reminded me that with practice, I will get these moves. What we see on TV of these world cup athletes doing crazy parkour moves is a result of hours of practicing the correct movement and body positioning.

After a fun session with Louis Parkinson at Yonder, London.

An encouraging day! A good start to my trip.

A few days later, I attended the Women’s Climbing Symposium in Birmingham. This was an event I had always wanted to go to. A room full of climbers open to learning and growing within the women’s’ climbing community – Is this my dream!? There were some climbing celebrities there – Shauna Coxsey, Hazel Findlay, Emma Twyford and Nina Caprez. Yes they were famous in my eyes, but they quickly became relatable as they shared their struggles, insecurities and tough times within their climbing.

Meeting Shauna Coxsey at the Women’s Climbing Symposium 2019

I learnt about how women should structure their training to suit their menstrual cycle – What should we eat? How should we train? What does our body benefit most from? A lot of sport psychology, training, and nutritional research has previously been carried out on men only. So it’s fair to say it was refreshing and encouraging to learn information actually useful to me.

Overall, a day full of goodness!

After a few days of catching up on sleep and adjusting to winter, it was time to meet with the Speed Wall again, at Warwick. The last time I was on this was in October at the National Combined Competition. It was good to get a bit more familiar with the moves, and learn a sequence that worked for me. I visited this wall a few times in the week. Though it was good to get some practice in, I felt a bit defeated as I didn’t improve as much as I would have liked.

Speed climbing is hard.

A rare, but inviting sunny day graced us on a Sunday, so it was time to take the boulder pads for a walk. We went to Curbar, at the Peak District. My fingers remain cold most the day, but it was fun to have a bit of a play in the fresh air.

A good break from being inside.

Where have the colourful holds gone?

The next week rolled by, I had finally gotten over the jet lag. It was time to get on some long routes, at Awesome Walls in Sheffield. I had to seriously crane my neck to see the top of these climbs! I hadn’t climbed on routes this long before – oh boy! I practiced my onsighting on some hard climbs, only getting one chance on them. They host many competitions here, so I learnt which were the Womens Qualifiers and Finals, and gave them a crack. I managed to get a fair way up one of the 8a Qualifier routes, followed by falling quite low down on the 8b Final routes. The style was completely different to what I was used to.

So high!

It was nice to be on a rope again!

Later that afternoon, I met with James at Sheffield Climbing Clinic. My left elbow had been causing me some grief for about 6 months. I learnt it was most likely a tendinopathy (tendinitis or tennis elbow). He gave me some hard exercises to do with a dumbbell, and told me I would have this cured in 3 weeks. 3 weeks!? I was skeptical but committed to the exercises whenever I had the chance. This was later made easier when I found a dumbbell miraculously next to a bin in London.

Christmas had arrived early!

A brief, unplanned stop in Bristol a few days later turned out to be very worthwhile. The bouldering gym, Flashpoint was absolutely brilliant. A neat gym full of great setting and comp-style problems for me to practice on. By this stage I was feeling more confident with dynamic moves, and didn’t hesitate to get on any boulders.

Am I becoming more dynamic finally?

Our favorite gym – Flashpoint, Bristol.

Then it really was Christmas!

My first wintery one yet. What a weird and wonderful thing. I’m used to wearing jandles and getting sunburnt on this day, so this was definitely different. It was a day spent playing board games by the fire and eating a lot.

After the Christmas hype I was keen to get back to The Depot, in Birmingham. I met with Uzo at Inside Edge Physiotherapy on New Year’s Eve. This was the man to get me strong! He did some strength testing on me and we both concluded that actually (for the grades I’m climbing) … I was physically weak. A bit of a slap in the face, but I was open to learn how I can improve and this was why I wanted to meet with Uzo. Back home in New Zealand there aren’t many professionals specialising in climbing Physio and Strength/Conditioning.

Battling the slopers.

Uzo was incredibly encouraging and I was excited to continue to work with him remotely. We have been focusing on getting my base strength up, as well as avoid injuries in the process. I am now on my second strength program and am noticing the difference already!

The Depot, Birmingham. Loved this gym!

As the trip was nearing the end, there was still one more person to meet up with – Jonathan Redshaw at Mile End in London. This was the oldest gym I visited but it was really brilliant. They have used the space well and I was surprised how modern the setting was.

Cool holds and clever setting at Mile End, London.

It was so valuable having a session with Jonathan. He reminded me to go back to basics – practice using my hips, trusting my feet, and body positioning. No gimmicky fancy advice. This was really refreshing actually. I think I was beginning to overcomplicate some of my climbing movements in my head, so this advice came at a good time.

I jotted down a lot of useful notes and have been using them since coming back to NZ. As I’m usually the one analysing other climbers, it was so useful to have a fresh pair of eyes pick through my technique and weaknesses.

Now that I’ve been back in Christchurch, I have really tried to apply all the nourishment I received in England. I’ve learnt that I need to let others help me, as climbing is still a team sport at the end of the day.

Back training in my home gym – Uprising, Christchurch, NZ

I’m currently about to board a plane to Sydney to attend the test competition for the Oceanias Combined Olympic Qualifier in March.

I feel stronger and more confident. Most importantly, I’ve really enjoyed working towards a competition.

Let’s see how my trip in England has helped!