The bigger picture and the difference between training and competing
With the Regional Championships taking place last weekend (and a lot of sitting in the train the days afterwards) I took the time to look back on the past 6 years of competing, something I find I do way to seldomly as it really shows how far you have come over an extended period of time. [read more]
In the last post I looked back on 2018, today I´d like to talk a bit about the upcoming season. Tomorrow I´ll compete in my first competition of 2019 and before that I would like to go over my plans and goals for this year ...
I know it has been a long time since I last wrote an article on here and I am planning on writing more regularly on here again (more on this to come in the next one) But today I just wanted to look back and reflect on the year 2018 because it has been one of the most interesting and eventful years of my climbing career so far ...
The bigger picture and the difference between training and competing
With the Regional Championships taking place last weekend (and a lot of sitting in the train the days afterwards) I took the time to look back on the past 6 years of competing, something I find I do way to seldomly as it really shows how far you have come over an extended period of time. A lot of times during regular training I find myself questioning my progress and my approach. All it takes is a bad day or sometimes as little as a single move that isn’t working how I’d like it to do and I start to doubt whether I am improving at all and thinking about all the things I could do differently, completely neglecting the “bigger picture”, the long term development and improvement. I often find myself believing that on any given day I should be performing better than ever before, ignoring factors like fatigue, mood and sometimes even just luck. That this is absolutely impossible and that having a bad days is normal is something I ignore in these moments as well as the fact that just because my performance on a given day is not the best one I ever delivered it doesn’t mean the general trend is not positive.
Something that I believe to play into this is the fact that climbing in general rarely really distinguish between training and competing. Especially when around other people I (and I strongly believe this applies to many other people too) don’t want to fall from a boulder, which is basically what you do in competition. Especially if it is an important competition, you probably want to deliver the best performance your capable of / the best one ever and you most definitely don’t want to fall. This however is actually not what training is about, although many don’t differentiate the two enough (again, I’m not excluding myself here) Training is about improvement, making mistakes and learning from them and getting better in the long run so when it is competition time, you can in fact deliver your best performance. And this means your going to have days where you’re not at a hundred percent because you crushed yourself the previous day. It also means your going to fall from seemingly easy problems if you’re working on your weaknesses. If you are a terrible jumper (just like I was) and you see an opportunity to get around a jump in competition, please go for it. But don’t do that in training. Because this in NOT how you’re going to improve in the long run.
Obviously this is easier said than done sometimes and it's something I need to remind myself of from time to time. And this is where you come back to the bigger picture. When comparing one day to the next, it is easy to get trapped in an emotional rollercoaster and trying to compete every day. But this will very likely not produce the best possible results over time. Once again the example of my attempt to learn how to jump kind of illustrates that perfectly. If I had wanted to feel good about my performance each day and/or just wanted to top the climbs I was presented with, I would have avoided them altogether or searched for ways around them as I did for a very long time. Similarly if I had quit with my practice every time I experienced a setback, I wouldn't have come very far. If you look back on it now the improvements are so obvious that it is hard to believe I was ever in doubt about them. But during the process I was, more often than not actually and this really goes for everything. Because of that I really like looking back on old videos from time to time to actually see how far I’ve come, especially when I don’t feel like I’m doing great at the moment. It is often said that you have to “trust the process” and as cliché as it sounds I think it is absolutely true. It is something I definitely need to work in to not lose sight on the bigger picture and remind myself from time to time when it is time to train and when it is time to compete.
The New Season – Looking ahead to 2019
In the last post I looked back on 2018, today I´d like to talk a bit about the upcoming season. Tomorrow I´ll compete in my first competition of 2019 and before that I would like to go over my plans and goals for this year.Regarding the official competitions there are two that are my main focus: The Northern German Championships and Nationals. The Northern German Championships are only a little over a month away and will kick of the “official” comp-season for me. This adds a bit more excitement and nerves to the whole thing for me, as it usually shows where I´m standing and what to expect from the rest of the season. Furthermore, I have quite a strong emotional attachment to this competition and I have a title to defend… So, I´m pretty excited for this one already. The other main event of the year are obviously nationals won´t take place until June which admittingly I´m quite happy about as it means I can use my free year to it´s full extend and spend all the time until then to get as strong as possible. The comp – again – is especially exciting but also quite nerve-wracking, as it is the only national competition for me and therefore the only possibility for me to see where I´m at compared to everyone else in Germany. Plus, I´d like to redeem myself for last years performance and kind of re-write that chapter.
Aside from these two, I´ll most likely will participate in the Saxon Championships and I will have to do the North-East Regionals as they are the qualifiers for Nationals. On the non-official side of things there´s the Ostblock-Cup in Chemnitz that by the time this will be online probably is already over Depending on when all the other comps will be, I might attend another one of these. (Probably the one in Leipzig in April) If it is possible, I´d love to go to the Studio Bloc Masters. I´ve been wanting to go there for a couple of years now but unfortunately it was never possible. So, let´s hope it doesn´t coincide with another competition again. Apart from that there really isn´t much planned yet. I will probably enter some more fun comps, especially in the latter part of the year but for now that´s all I have decided on. I also will continue competing in the Boulder Bundesliga but I´m not quite counting everything besides the final as a real competition so that´s quite some time until then.
I intentionally didn´t wrote down any goals in term of placement because in my opinion there is not much value in doing that. The placement depends more so on what everyone else is doing than what you are doing and for me the only relevant thing is my own performance. Therefore, my goals are not certain rankings but certain things I want to do or achieve in my training and climbing. The overall goal obviously is to get better at climbing and be able to climb at my best at each competition. In order to achieve that there are a few separate things I want to work on. On the wall, aside from just climbing hard, I want to work on two things in particular. The first one are slabs. I wouldn´t quite call them a weakness of mine, but I have neglected them for a while and I´m just not as comfortable on them as I´d like to be. The second one are mantles. Similar to the jumping issues I´ve had, I´ve always been kind of bad at them but I´m at a point where I feel it is just not acceptable anymore to have such an obvious weakness. Therefore the plan is to train these two things more intensively basically y just doing more slabs and mantles. In my opinion that´s the thing you have to do if you suck at something: Doing the thing itself…To keep myself won track with this I have started to write down the number of boulders each session I´ve climbed that are either slabs or mantles and setting mini-goals of how many of them I want to do. So far, this has been going quite well and tracking the number has certainly helped me to continuously work on it.
When it comes to strength training, things have gone so well over the last six months or so that I don´t feel like I need to change anything. I´ll continue training after the plan I get sent and will more so work on the execution and focus during the sessions because I have started to realize that the way you approach your training is just as important - if not more - than the training itself.
Another kind of nagging part for me has always been flexibility and stretching. For the longest time it has been quite frustrating to deal with the fact that most girls are more flexible than me, but I´ve finally started to accept that all I can work on is myself. Aside from stretching, which I personally find the most effective when it comes to increasing passive flexibility, I have also quite recently started to experiment with various things to improve my active flexibility as well and I´m really interested in what I can do with that.
The last thing I believe deserves some attention is the mental side of things, both in training and in competition. As I already mentioned I find to be a lot more productive if I am very focused in training off the wall. I absolutely prefer to do these sessions alone to be able to concentrate and do my best. On the wall however climb a lot better if I´m climbing together with other people and I can perform better when I´m relaxed and having fun. This being said, one thing I need to work on is focusing more on visualizing a boulder in advance. Way to often I find myself going over a boulder beforehand and being like: “Yeah whatever, left, right, left…” just to end up in the boulder not having a clue about how to do it. I have to constantly remind myself to really prepare the problems in my head and to pay attention to every aspect of it. Improving this is one of my main goals for this year, as this exact thing is also what happened in the Boulder Bundesliga finals on the first problem where I, during the observation period, never actually took a decent look at the top hold or thought about the top move properly.
Regarding the mental aspects of competition there is really not much to say. I already pretty much know when and how I can perform at my best and it is more so a matter of implementing that which is what I´ll be working on.
And that´s pretty much it, I´m pretty psyched for this season and I´m super excited to find out what this year is going to bring.
Looking back on 2018
I know it has been a long time since I last wrote an article on here and I am planning on writing more regularly on here again (more on this to come in the next one) But today I just wanted to look back and reflect on the year 2018 because it has been one of the most interesting and eventful years of my climbing career so far.
I started the year with my first regional championship in the senior category as I missed last years competition due to an injury, and I actually managed to come away with the gold, something that had been a goal of mine ever since I first started competing in the youth. To some it might seem like that is not a big deal, but to me it is important as this is the level I really am competitive at right now. I’m just not yet able to compete at the highest level on the national stage, therefore regionals are the competitions that really count for me.
But that was only the beginning of the season and from there on I started a real rollercoaster through the next comps. The saxon championships a week later went ok, not really bad but also not really good. The the north-east championships another week latermight have been my best competition of the year. I felt I delivered everything I was capable of in the final round, learned my mistakes of the previous two competitions and just had an absolute blast. So even though I “only” got second it is the one comp i look back on without having absolutely no regrets.
In April, quite spontaneously, I got the chance to compete in one of the german youth cups. I actually wasn’t allowed to start anymore as I decided to stop competing in lead and speed but there was a free spot left. I was super happy about it because to me it meant having a proper “Good-Bye” Competition from the youth circuit and for a very long time I thought I would never get that. Again, it might seem like it’s not a big deal, but these cups meant a lot to me. I grew up with them and a they were a huge part in making me the climber I am today and many of my best memories were made there. Climbingwise - again - there were a lot of mixed feelings. It was an incredibly tight competition and it came down to the last boulder. I fell on the top move three times which put me in fifth instead of first and I actually went back to finish the boulder a few weeks later. Turns out, with a tiny change in foot position, the move got really easy. Although frustrating on one hand, it was at least good to know that the problem was not in the physical side of things and it also shows once again, that climbing is a sport of details and the smallest changes can decide over victory or loss and to me that is one of the beautiful things about it. Then there actually was a two month break until what should have been the highlight of the season: Nationals. Although, as already mentioned, I was not really in contention for a top spot I was really looking forward to it, as the German Championships the previous year was one of the best competitive experiences I’ve ever had. However, it turned out to be one of my worst competitions ever. First of all, I got sick got sick two weeks beforehand and only had one real session after that prior to the competition. Therefore I was not nearly in the shape I could have been in. But even worse I let this get into my head which probably was the way bigger factor in me not performing as well as I think I could have. On top of that the competition was held on the OutDoor fair but the qualification was held the day before it actually opened which meant the only spectators were literally the coaches. There weren’t even other competitors as I climbed as one of the first persons, the girls were all still in isolation and most of the men didn’t arrive until later on. This was quite the contrary to the previous year where the competition was held as part of the Gymnastics festival and we had by far the largest crowds I have ever seen at a climbing competition if this level. And while many people might not enjoy climbing in front of that many people I personally love it and it was one of the reasons why I had such a blast in 2017.
So, Nationals really weren’t enjoyable, but in between all of that I also happened to finish school. It was and still is kind of weird because I can barely remember a time when I didn’t went to school and suddenly it was just over. Furthermore, I personally quite liked school. I know it sounds crazy and obviously there were aspects I despised but overall I did enjoy my time there. A big contributor to this were obviously my teachers - I was really lucky on that part - and the fact that many of the compulsory subjects were in my realm of my interest anyway, but also because I never had to study that much to get the grades I wanted, therefore school was never a real big stressor for me. However, leaving school meant a full year of free time to focus on climbing. It was a decision made three years ago, when I decided to skip the tenth grade. As I was already younger than everyone else in my grade I didn’t wanted to go to university straight after school so I made the plan to take the whole year to focus on training and climbing which is exactly what I have been doing since June.
To really get the most out of my training during that time, I reached out to a company called RAWO, which works with athletes from various different sports and support them with their training. I am quite a perfectionist when it comes to training and while I did my own programming I always second-guessed everything. Therefore it was in addition to the plan being pretty effective a huge mental relief for once not thinking about the training but simply executing it and I believe that this was a very important factor in me being able to focus a lot more and get the most out of my sessions.
In general, I feel like I made a lot of progress since I basically started climbing “Full-time”, actually for the first time in several years I really feel like I am progressing at an observable rate. Whether it is because of the training plan or simply spending more time on the wall or whatever, I do not know, but it is a great feeling.
In between all of that training however, I took a week off in October and visited Fontainebleau for the first time. Actually it was my first time ever bouldering outdoors, to that point I only had been leadclimbing outside which I just really didn’t enjoy. However I absolutely fell in love with the forest and it might have been one of the best weeks of my life. As I didn't went in with any expectations I was able to just enjoy the climbing (once I had accustomed to the fact that the holds weren’t colored and the french definition of a “good” foothold), hanging out with friends and the beautiful nature.
In December there was on final competition left for me - the Boulder Bundesliga finals - I went in with a bit too high of an expectation because of my performance the previous year and the amount of training I had put in, but I didn’t manage to climb up to those expectations quite literally. I won’t go into further detail because I already wrote a lot about it on Instagram, but it wasn’t quite the way I would have liked to end my season.
Speaking of writing however, throughout the season i discovered that writing about it is a great way for me to go over and reflect on competitions. I started using Instagram in December 2017 and since then it has kind of developed as a place for me to write down my thoughts and feelings about certain things that otherwise would just never get said and which then usually keep on bothering me for a long time.
And I think that’s it for this article, I know it’s been quite a long one but it has been quite an eventful year as well… And I’m looking forward to 2019 being just as exciting.