Monday, 24 November 2014

ENVY

My evolution as a climber and a person, passed through envy. 
For some time in the past - and I'm sure there are many traces of it in this blog - I've been envious. Envious of those who could go climbing, those who could climb the problems that I wanted to climb, those who could reap the rewards of the training they'd been doing. 
It was horrible. 
Let me talk about envy. Envy is a bad beast. To the contrary of what many may think, envy is a judgement. When we envy someone, we judge that person: we think that they don't deserve what they have, and that somehow in doing so they detract something from us, something that should belong to us. 
So, envy is a lot more than we're used to think. 
When I was envying my friends who could climb lots, my thoughts were along these lines, even though I didn't realize it and, had I realized, I would have enever admitted: 
"I'm envious because they can climb the problems that I can't try. They climb them just because they have the time to stick at them. They're not as strong as I am. They're just more lucky in having more time and more opportunities. They don't deserve those climbs, I deserve them because I put in a lot more effort and dedication than they do." I could go on forever. 
The sense of frustration that comes with this kind of thinking need not to be mentioned. 
I don't know how things changed. 
I think that I had to go through a complete chaos to finally emerge on the other side. I had to question not only my climbing, but every aspect of my life, and how every aspect of my life had been affected, for good or bad, by climbing. 
It took me a lot of time to finally bury the hatchet with climbing, and this came with an added bonus: my envy had gone. I can feel it trying to raise its ugly head at times, but it's just the shadow of what it used to be. 
I could say that envy became something different: it became the knowledge that my life is different from my friends' lives, and from anyone else's life. 
Go figure. 
Years and years to come to this conclusion. Ha! 
I exchanged climbing for training, and finally found some kind of peace. Others may have time, I have not. There's nothing to be envious about, that's just how things go. Maybe I also exchanged envy for a little sadness and disappointment, but that's a victory! 
I was thinking about it just yesterday evening, right before starting my warm up. Never seeing the opportunity to actually put all the training efforts to good use, makes training really really hard, mentally. 
You sow, you sow, you sow, and you don't know when or whether you'll reap. 
How do you deal with this? 
It's very easy: you either quit sowing, or you keep sowing. Make your choice. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI

I will remember this past month forever. It's been one of the densest, most intense periods of my life. 
I've been studying a lot, writing appellation acts, criminal and civil cases, and attending classes in the weekends. 
I've been pulling on wooden edges and plastic holds. 
I stepped on stage again after more than 15 years, to act and sing in a musical that a friend of mine wrote for our contrada, Istrice, and that sold out two nights in the main theater in town, raising more that 5.000 Euros for charity. 
Finally, I've been - briefly - climbing on rock. One single day, just one day of the nearly three weeks of perfect, clear weather that we've had, but what a day. I climbed some new, easy problems, nearly climbed a project that is around 8a+, and opened a beautiful arete. 
Now I'm here in my bedroom writing this with my left knee wrapped in ice and swollen after I got my meniscus surgery yesterday. 
It seems all over now, while I roll left and right to change position and ease the pain and discomfort: the stage, the public, the pointless training, the perfect rock. The pointless training. The pointless training. The pointless training nearly made me climb 8a+ on Sunday, on the first day on rock after 6 weeks. The fifth day on rock since the beginning of Summer. Is it really pointless? 
It's been great and beautiful. When I was there with my headtorch, rushing another pointless - yes pointless - attempt on the project, I thought: "Right, I'm gonna come back tomorrow evening and finish this." I had forgotten I had to be in hospital... Ahaha! 
I thrashed my hands, that now seem bitten by a dog, and got home. I really really wanted to get this done before this layoff, but it did not happen. I did not make it happen. But I tried with all my will and skin. 
Next time. The path is right. 
Study, train, love and destroy. 

A few pics and videos of this incredible Autumn so far. 
                        Below, the beautiful prow I climbed last Sunday. 

Below, a new PB on paused rep one armers. 
                                          

                                               Below, the Move. 
                                                           http://vimeo.com/109309457

                                   Below, the new PB on the circuit. 
                                                           http://vimeo.com/108706275

                        Below, a sore soul, a sore knee two sore hands. 








Thursday, 18 September 2014

BODY AND MIND, BUT MOSTLY MIND

If my body sometimes is giving me signs that it may give up (back pain, meniscus, strained finger) my mind is not. 
My mind is strong and therefore my body is as strong. 
My mind is young and sparky and indestructible, therefore my body is young and sparky and indestructable. 

Body. 
The numbers say so: after a recent body exam, I found out that my body composition sits just shy of the one of bodybuilders, at the extreme top of that of "athletes". And I'm 42 motherfuckers. 
Anyway, this is not important. Well, it is, but not for you. Just for me. 
I have been on rock, and I had fun, despite thrashing my lower back. I need to sort it out properly, otherwise everything in terms of training and power gains is useless.
Despite injuries and ridiculously few and brief training sessions, I managed to retain some ability to cling onto holds: I am currently focusing on super short system sessions, almost no board climbing except some attempts on the project circuit. I've been trying it for 13 months now... Still 4 moves to go, but now I always complete it with one resting. I get to hold number 25 with exploding forearms, fall down, wait a little bit then get to 30. 
This led me to think about the mysteries of endurance training: I am progressing on the circuit without training Power Endurance (or even Stamina) at all, or at least in no structured way. I have only been doing some laps on 12 moves long problems pausing 5 seconds on every hold, for a minute and half more or less of climbing; and some one foot bouldering on the same 12 moves long problems with 6 kg on. No repeated problems, no feet on campusing for Power Endurance, nothing. 
Could it simply be that I am reaping the fruits of the structured training I did until May? Hmmm.... it seems a long time ago to be still progressing. Who knows. 
As soon as temps and humidity go down, I need to test myself with the objectivity of a stop watch. 
I tried a variation of the foot on campusing, under the form of not campusing, not moving at all. It's very cool. Becoming able to shake out in such a position could lead to interesting things in the future. 

Mind. 
I'm stuffing my mind with notions, preparing myself at best for the most important exam of my life. 

"Who are you?"
I ask this question to myself many times a day, and I always have the right answer. 


Some pics. 
Higher, he luxurious foothold that I use for foot on power campusing and for the new excercise, with its majestic 1 cm of contact surface (As Keith once told me: "You can't come off from 1 cm thick footholds!"). At least it's incut, it's almost like cheating. Lower, the bleedin' bivy ledge is use for Power Endurance. "You are weak" written on it. 

Trying what will become my hardest problem. 


 The books I've studied in the last months, in the spare time from work. 


SAN Power edge. The big one. Those guys are selective. 


Staying there, staying put, shaking out. 65 kilos locked between the foothold and the crimp like a steel beam. Breathe, feel the greatness. Who needs real climbing? Not me. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

SCHOOL IS OVER, BACK TO SCHOOL

School is almost over. After spending most of the Summer teaching Italian again, now the time has come for me to go back to my own school. 
In two weeks I'll start following a course that will last until December, with lessons every Friday and Saturday, exam-simulations every other Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and a final exam at mid-December that is the first of the two final steps to finally become a Lawyer, or I should better say a Barrister with no limitations of practice and full competence: three written essays, on three different days; one Civil Law case, one Criminal Law case, and one procedural act. 
Then I will spend six months working and waiting for the results. Then, in another six months or so, I will face step number two, under the form of five oral exams on five different subjects: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Constitutional Law, International Civil Law and another one that I still haven't chosen. One year. Fifteen months from now. 
I am terrified. 
When I started back one year and half ago, I had one year and half of compulsory practice in front of me, behind the protective presence of two Lawyers, with no need to step up onto the main stage. Then my turn came as well, and I found myself spending sleeplees nights before going in Court on my own. Now I face this other challenge. This exam is very hard, and I want to pass with full marks, and I will pass it with full marks. 
Then, in more than a year's time, with this maelstrom behind me, I will go climbing. 






Wednesday, 27 August 2014

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

A very different Summer is about to end. Basically, we haven't had a Summer. An Italian Summer, I mean. 
Apart from a boiling start, with temps quickly close to the 40's, then it's been just warm and rainy. I mean, very rainy. With floodings, casualties, and all that stuff. 
I didn't manage to touch dolomia at all. The boulders are soaked and a couple of project will have to wait for next year. Booooo. 
In the last months I have been plagued by my lower back, that really gave me hell, but finally it seems to be going better now; but at a very high price: stretching after every session and also on many rest days. Boring, but being able to stand almost straight is priceless. 
Another different thing: I have taken lots of rest. I took two entire weeks off. Not in a row, but still something very different. 
I went back to training one armers, trying to improve, with paused sets training, a.k.a. deadstop sets. 
Then last week I got a finger injury. It had been a long long time since the last time I had heard that terrible cracking sound. The sound of your climbing dreams being shattered. 
Luckily it seemed worse than it is, but still very very unpleasant and annoying, especially because I was feeling super strong that day and not bad at all in general. Could this renewed sensation of power be related to taking more rest days? Surely not. 
Anyway, injured finger meant back to one armers, and last Saturday I finally managed an L-seat one armer, on my right arm. Still not as cool as Juri Chechi would do, but pleased nonetheless. Blimey, they're hard. I can do 6 paused one armers on my right arm, but just ONE L-seat one armer was maximal. 
Brilliant. Video here: 
L-seat one armer

I also went climbing, and tried a long time project of mine, that unfortunately has few holds, that are a bit crumbly, and therefore tend to disappear. A new sequence was found on my last visit (after three years of not trying it) and I am very psyched to nuke it to orbit this next Autumn. 
This project also earned me the almost-best climbing shot I have. 
Dammit that left hand. 





Friday, 18 July 2014

HOW IT USED TO BE, HOW IT IS

I wanted to blog about how much my days changed since last Summer: the long hours at work, the double schedule of teaching and practicing as a lawyer, with some translations thrown in for good measure. 
But I won't. 
Some things change, some others don't. I'll tell you about the second ones. 
I still want to train and to get strong, even if I don't climb on rock basically anymore.  
Temps are still awful. Luckily humidity is high... As my sense of humour. 


I still want to tweak my routines, namely the foot-on campusing, so I added 2 kg and switched to old, flat shoes instead of downturned ones. Train heavy, climb light. Still working the full crimp.





I am still a cool motherfucker. Or at least I try to be.


On the side of the many changes, I introduced some Finishers to my training. 
What is a Finisher? As the name suggests, it's something that terminates your session. What the name does not suggest, is that a Finisher terminates your session by terminating you. After a well done excercise, or series of excercises, you should be lying on the ground, crying for your mamma to make you dinner and put you to bed. You don't look at your bulging muscles eager to go out for a drink and some girls, you just lay there and cry. 
A Finisher has to be very short in duration (less than 10 minutes they say, but just 6 minutes leave me properly finished) and very high in intensity. Being performed at the end of the session, with muscles already fatigued and poor in glycogen, these excercises creat a very high metabolic stress that induces, teamed with proper eating, anabolism and fat loss. Yay! 
For my finisher I chose to perform two excercises, back to back, in two sets of 2 minutes followed by two sets of 1 minute. I do Spider Crawls and a complex of Half Squat, Biceps Curl and Overhead Press. All with a 6 kg weightvest, that I wear under my sauna jacket. Just 6 minutes in total, but I can assure you that they are some very, very long 6 minutes. They seem to last an eternity. 


You, my dear reader, may be sitting there wondering why I still keep training so hard, instead of dedicating my time to (enjoying) climbing: I'll tell you why. 
Beyond trivial matter-of-fact reasons (hours to go to the boulders, lack of doable projects, etc.), the main reason is: Delusions of Grandeur. 
No, not the famous boulder problem. The other problem. The mental problem. 
I can't be the best at climbing, so I want to be the strongest. I don't mean overall best and strongest, like in the world (I'd like though); I mean the best I can be. The strongest I can be. 
To be the best I can be at climbing, I would need to climb loads. I should travel to many destinations, try many problems on different rock types, different prehensions, different angles (from 45° onwards). Refine my technique. 
But I can't. I have no time and no money. At least for the moment. 
So I want to be the strongest, because I have time and tools for this. 
I can't be the best I can be without being very very strong. I could simply go climbing and punter around, maybe even have some fun. 
I don't want to. I want to be as strong I can be, ready to seize the opportunity, if it will ever dawn on me, to try and be the best I can be.
Luckily, I don't even care about if and when I'll be able to create this opportunity: as I've said so many times, I love training as a goal in itself, and sometimes, the more useless it is, the more I enjoy it. 

Finally, I got an MR for my left knee, and it showed a tear in the posterior horn of my medial meniscus. I will need surgery to fix it, still don't know which kind of: it's not too bad, so they could simply file the damaged part off, or cut it off, or stitch it, or combinations of the above. Recovery times will depend on which one they'll choose.  

Monday, 16 June 2014

SIGHS, SELF PROMOTION AND A RANT

Quite unexpectedly, and contrary to all my efforts, I am longing to go climbing outdoors. Yes, you had it right: the real thing, the rock. That stuff. 
Quite often, in the last weeks, while studying Civil Law wearing my still new, undersized Five Ten Team, I've found myself walking in Alpine settings in my mind, surrounded by granite boulders and high pine trees. A heat wave that got to 39° (it's just June, goddammit!) made me explode in huge sighs at the thought of how cool - in both meanings - it had to be in the mountains. I downloaded the guide of Magic Wood.
It seems that after all, rock still appeals me. 
And this brings us to the main event of today: in the late evening I'll have an MR to check the damage I made to my left inner meniscus. I'm sure it's serious, given that each time I warm up and try to squat a little bit more, I definitely feel something moving and squeezing inside my knee. A painful and unpleasant sensation.
End of the sighs, bring the self promotion. 
In a previous entry, I confessed my worries about one armers: I wasn't feeling strong and felt the urge to test them. Training one armers proves to be a tricky matter every time I try. I have a pull up bar at home, but it's in a door frame and I don't have enough room to twist my body; my legs always hit the wall. The same can be said for the Beastmaker. I tried to build some kind of handle to hang it from the board frame, but still there's the wall on one side, and the steepnees of the board doesn't allow any leg space. The device I prefer, that comes under the form of a big, flat wooden edge (I prefer it to a normal pull up bar, don't know why. Maybe because my wrist stays more straight and doesn't flex), sits in my garage, where unfortunately my dad parks his car, of which unfortunately I have no keys (my father is smart). 
So, when his car is there, I can't train because there's no room. And it's always there, because my dad never takes the car.
A couple of weekends ago, my parents went to the sea, and when my father dropped me a message I immediately knew that I had to make the most out of the chance. 
Doubtful and trembling I warmed up, trying to put an emphasis on big recruitment more than pulling force. I did a few lock offs and some HIIT. Then I went down. I took it easy and felt good. So I tried, with the idea that I was going to perform poorly, but also with the desire to use this test as the starting base for future training. 
It turned out that my worries were a bit excessive, as the video shows. 

I am very psyched, even my left arm felt good with three/four one armers. There's no video of it because I need to stop my body from twisting using my right hand on the beam - an old, badly healed collarbone fracture makes my left shoulder girdle very weak - so it's not a good sight and probably it takes some weight off also. 
With proper Summer training things could become very interesting. 
Then: last Friday I won my first trial, the first one I followed from start to finish. It's been epic, from sleepless nights full of worries, to a proper fight in Court, with the judge nearly kicking me out so furious I was. But then I crushed the fuck out of the other parts: one was a Public Administration and the other a company that is the collection agency for taxes, that was condemned also to pay our expenses. Fuck you bastards: see my guns and hide! 


In the pics: a few Nike athletes are going to need a new job. Of course I wasn't dressed like this in Court.

End of self promotion, on with the rant. 
I've bumped into this picture: 
 
Everyone, has bumped into this, or a similar one. They're used to make fun of Arnold, and of those who dedicate themselves to the cult of muscle. The aim is to show how these things are temporary, how we are all subject to Mother Nature's laws. 
Well, thanks for nothing, assholes. 
The idiots who post these pics, do not understand that once you've been good at something even for a day, that day will remain forever in your life as an asset, as a success, and as a treasure. The fact that it's temporary - like everything in life, life included - it's just a lame excuse to sit there and become fat and ugly before time, accelerating the ageing process, instead of slowing it down. 
Motherfuckers that never were good at anything even for a single day in life. Arnold, and many others in many disciplines, from sport to culture, to art, were the best or tried to be the best in their fields for at least one day. And this is all that matters.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

HIIT. KIND OF...

One, of the many things that really piss me off about having broken my meninscus, is not being able to sprint anymore.
I'm getting older and it's getting harder and harder to keep good form, so every possible activity is welcome. Every possible activity that contributes to power and burning some fat, in this order of importance. Regular cardio, steady state or not, is not welcome. 
If you ask yourself why you should not do any regular cardio, refer to the font of all information, T-Nation. The concept of "skinny fat", however, should clarify everything, and should keep you awake at night and make you tremble during the day, for the fear of becoming one. 
So, I can't sprint, but that doesn't mean that I can't perform other high intensity excercises. 
Yesterday I did this routine of five excercises: spider crawl (+6kg), skip, gloves, snatch high pulls and front levers; each one - except the snatch high pulls - consisting of six sets of 10" max efforts, with 30" intervals. 
It was fun and I'll be doing it again. Fun means horribly hard. I didn't puke but was close. 
But not so soon. DOMS are kicking in already and I feel as if I'd wrestled an M1 Abram tank at full speed. And won. 
Do yourself a favour, do some high intensity training. 
Videos below. 






Wednesday, 21 May 2014

BLUE, GREEN, MINUTES AND STRENGTH




In the pictures, training body and mind at the same time. 

Then, I do not understand why some people like to detail how many minutes it took them to climb a boulder problem or a route. The odd "15 minutes", "20 minutes", and so on, on 8a.shit. 
I'm being modest as usual. Of course I understand why they do so: it's because the less it takes to climb a problem, the stronger the climber is supposed to be. So, if a climber takes "15 minutes" to climb an 8a, he appears to be stronger than the climber who took "15 minutes and 38 seconds" to climb the same problem. 
Bull. Shit. 
No one cares about time, we're not sprinters, and we're not making love. 
When two climbers have climbed the same problem, on that problem they are equally strong, if we're talking about climbing. 
Otherwise we would need to create a new way to grade a problem: it's 8a in less than one hour, 8a+ in less than half an hour, etc. 
You got the point. 
Everything is getting so fucking complicated that my mind boggles: number of tries, number of days on, number of minutes, how long did one drive to get there, he had fever, he hadn't taken a dump, he had diarrhea, he was on a bad mood, he had snorted cocaine, he was full of love, he had wanked five times... 
The last thing we need at the crag is some idiot who times you on your project. What will it be next? "I skipped a rest", "I used crappy shoes", "I thought about work during the climb"? Every excuse seems good to try and show that - ceteris paribus - for some reason one is stronger than another. 
Goddammit, you either climbed a problem, or you didn't. Get a fucking clue. 
The only way to show you're stronger, is to climb a harder problem or to show down on a fingerboard, pull up bar, campusboard or gym. 
I tend to think that many of those who just climb, have far too much time on their hands, and things get complicated.  
And I want them as simple as possible. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

FIGHT THE BOREDOM!

Summer temps are already here, and with them I have another perfect reason not to go climbing. 
Under my board, with outrageous tank tops that would have me banned from every crag in the world, from every gym and from every sane congregation of climbers - if such a thing exists - I can unleash what is left of a once powerful physique. 
Weeks and weeks on end of dining out are slowly but steadily changing my body composition, and I already dream about the days to come, the powerlifting days. Last Sunday, first thing in the morning - ok, no, first was coffee, second the toilet - so, third thing in the morning I ordered this ebook
Alright. 
When my traps will finally join my ears, and I'll bicep curl twice my bodyweight, then I'll be happy. 
In the meanwhile I just have to stick to training for climbing. Or, to be more honest, to training for training. 
Training is what I like and what I do, and if it gets me up something, all the better. If not, I don't care, as long as I get stronger. 
Ascents come and go, and can depend on many factors. But when you are in front of a loaded barbell, lifting it depends only on one factor: are you strong enough? 
The same can be said for the mother of all training for climbing: fingerboarding. The hold is there. You either can hang it or you fucking don't. Try changing your climbing shoes motherfucker, if you can't hold it. Try to dropknee mutherfucker if you can't hold it. Ahah! Where's your fucking god now. 
Anyway, I'm digressing. 
I tweaked a couple of excercises, lately. I've always thought that I'm weak on crimps, but I've never liked to train the full crimp on a fingerboard, leaving it for board climbing and rock climbing. So I started doing feet on campusing but using a full crimp, as shown in this video. 



The full crimp works the tendons a lot more at the level of the palm of the hand, because obviously also the first phalanx has to be flexed closer to the palm to full crimp. I really felt the difference. 
Then, this thing called Power Endurance is pretty cool, to be honest. Despite the fact that I'm pathetic at it, I keep doing it because it still has the word "power" in its name, so it can't be bad. 
I switched from doing 3 consecutive goes on the same problem, resting just the time to get back to the starting holds and chalk up, to climbing the same problems pausing 5 seconds on each move. 
It's cool and fun. While lapping the problem, you always get at least 10/15 seconds of rest, between the laps, so - despite finishing the third lap with exploding forearms - this rest could cause some bias when transferring the training onto rock. If ever it will happen. 
The new excercises are in these videos here. 



Last but not least, a little rant. 
When I read a pro climber giving advice on life, I get mad. As pro climbers, they should only give advice about climbing, and not about how you should live your life, letting you know how brave they are to live with no boundaries, no bonds, only guided by their dreams of the perfect route or perfect boulder. Bull. Shit. 
And with this nice little drop of good vibes, I now get the fuck out of the office and go training before dining out. 
Come. The. Fuck. On. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

IT NEVER RAINS...

It never rains under my board. It never rains under Sanjski Par either. 
After more than four years, I went back to Misja Pec to try my chances on Sanjski Par, the route I fell in love with when I went there to interview Tadej Slabe, old school hero and serious wad. 
The route had gone to gather dust in the recesses of my mind for a few years, then after a troubled relationship with climbing in the last years, it came out again to push me to train and to get stronger. 
So, from September, I put in four to six weekly sessions, with fingerboarding, system climbing, bouldering, and power endurance. 
A few weeks ago I hit a monster peak, which put me on top of a couple of projects on my board and made my ego and psyche boost. 
Then, while I was tapering the training to get to the route strong but rested, one day I made a mistake. I took part to a local comp. 
It was a rainy Sunday, and I had trained at home doing feet on campusing with 6 kg on; I wanted to do one footed bouldering with 6 kg on, after, but was too tired, so I decided to go and make my friends happy by checking out the comp they had set. Bad idea. 
The wall we have is just slightly overhanging, so it's hard to set hard problems, which have to be contrieved and generally ugly. On one of the easier ones, though, I heel hooked to gain the top. No problem. 
The following day, around noon, while at work, I realized I could neither stand up nor walk. My left leg was stiff and swollen like a ballon. 
Four days before going to trfy the route. 
I decided to cut my losses, gulp antiinflammatories, massage arnica and go nonetheless. 
As it was immediately clear, climbing hard requires both legs to work properly: there lies the difference with campusing. 
Tadej was there, under the pouring rain, in 20 degrees temp and 100% humidity, quite tipycally barechested and in shorts. The man is a legend: his current project is to campus the ten central moves of Sanjski. 
When you climb with Tadej, you follow his rules: total time at the crag, one hour (walk-in included: he walks fast); warm up: no; warm down: no; total tries: two. This is how a busy man climbs. 
So, there I was. 
On my first go I barely managed to see the holds. Then I touched a few of them and my forearms exploded. On my second go I linked a few moves of the start, but my left knee was quite useless, especially on hard pull-ins and drop-knees that I had to avoid like the plague. So I tried to climb face on. Ahah! 
That was the first day. 
On my second day, the first go was dedicated not to rip a tendon, and the second to actually perform a few moves. 
Then for another two days I just gorged on Spritz and baccalĂ . I made a whole lotta love with my girlfriend. 
So, Sanjski Par. 
It's hard. 
I had seen a few videos, but they were of the route prior to a major breakage of a big mushroom that hosted a strong double heel-hook and some toe-hooks for many moves of the central part. 
The already hard 8c is now hard 8c+. I tried a hard 8c+. Jesus fucking Christ. I must be mad. 
If there's a hard route in the World that I can climb, it's this one: it's short, it's crimpy, it's a roof and it's so low to the ground that if you skip the last clip you need a crashpad to protect the fall. Seriously. 
I had so much fun. 
I did all the moves, with many doubts about the sequence, but my dodgy knee didn't allow to try tricks, so everything needs further inspection. I will go back as soon as my knee heals, somehow: the sports doctor checked it out and told me I have a broken meniscus, but I probably didn't break it now. It's old stuff. I gave it a serious beating this time though. 
How did I feel on the route? Bad. 
How did I feel on the route bearing in mind that it's hard 8c+? Fucking good. 
Before going, I was physically very very exhausted. I felt strong but exhausted: the training had been brutal. Months and months on end of weighted beastmaking, weighted bouldering, power endurance, circuits. 
I needed a rest. And I planned to rest at least two weeks after this mini trip, because I really really needed it. I wanted to have fun, to relax, to go to my board without thinking "What are the homeworks for today? How will I do on the BM? Which hold of the circuit will I get to?"
I got home Tuesday night. 
I trained on Wednesday evening. And a great session, also. And I am going to train today. And tomorrow. 
I came back from Sanjiski Par with a renewed motivation. And all just for 20 moves in a crimpy roof. So fucking cool. 
It never rains under my board. 
It never rains under Sanjski Par either. 

Untitled


Friday, 21 March 2014

ERIC HOBSBAWN AND AMIATA BOULDERING

I don't know if Eric Hobsbawn ever did some bouldering, I seriously doubt so, though. What I'm sure is that, had he bouldered around here, he'd have written a book entitled "The Short Amiata Bouldering Season". 
For another year the bouldering season, for me, has lasted as much as two days. Two days of good conditions, with a clear sky, Sun and some breeze. Sticky rock. Psyche. Biceps. 
Amiata bouldering is a land of extremes: it's not uncommon to go and try the higher sectors only to find them freezing cold and damp, or dumped with snow, then to check the lower sectors and discover Summer is here. The cold sectors do not get any Sun at all, but they get the Northern icy winds; the warm sectors are in full Sun and get the Southern warm and humid winds.  So basically every different sector has a window of good conditions that is really short.
It took me just 21 years of climbing to understand that in Amiata you either freeze or boil. A good old friend of mine, an American girl named Josie, who I climbed with for a winter while she was here studying, nicknamed me "The Lord of Cold"... If you still read here, Josie, I'm sorry I took you climbing with glacial temps and made you belay me for hours for my route project. The friction was amazing that day, though. 
In one of these days I managed to make some good links on the super low start of my project from a couple of years ago, and did a cool variation. 
Rock climbing is quite fun, I have to say. 
Training wise - let's get to the important things - I had a brief stop due to a small finger injury that luckily passed in a couple of weeks: while doing a dynamic move I smashed my right middle finger in a hold that was in the way. Result, a slight sprain, swelling, pain, and panic. Also, a couple of weeks before I had strained my left hamstring insertion to the pelvis, while training PE on the feet on campusing, with the small foothold and 6 kg on. 
This has also almost healed, but I had to cut the sprints off for a while. 
I'll save them for the late Spring and Summer, when I'll be allowed to sprint barechested in my neighborhood. 
Now normal service is more or less resumed, with good results, especially on the board. I did good on some projects, and repeated an old one that I had only climbed twice in more than two years (still a long way from Malc's twice in five years on his project; also in terms of difficulty: Malc would flash my project in flip flops and my motorbike tied to his back). 
I did not improve my PE, neither on the feet on campusing nor on the circuit test, but I did not lose anything. Not having trained it properly in a lot of time I am happy about that. 
I have to admit that I'm also happy about the short Amiata bouldering season; I have lots of work to do, so going climbing for a full day leaves me feeling guilty. It's not often possible to go for just two or three hours, because after all it's almost a three hours driving there and back, so it's expensive and tiring. Not going climbing on rock except in special occasions (when I really want to put on my Hornets or Team or Dragon, that I don't use on plastic), gives me some peace of mind because in the weekends I have enough time to rest, work and train at home. 




Up here is a project whose first part I climbed last week, with great joy. The following moves mark the start of the hard bit. I tend to think that I'll never do it, but as soon as I keep trying I may as well have a chance. 
And down here there are other training videos: another project, in which again the hard part starts where I fall (latching the purple with left hand and then matching: a move that I did in isolation once in two years...); and some power endurance training on one of my two test problems, using just one foot with 6 kg on. Brutal. Using only one foot means that every foot placement involves cutting loose: this works your abs very hard, plus all the body placements change. Very fun. 



                                          

One last note to self: when still not fully recovered from a middle finger strain, it's not advisable to do middle finger mono one arm dead hangs. Strangely it hadn't occurred to me that feeling very strong on two armed hangs isn't enough: when passing to one armed hangs the load kind of... doubles. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

BUSY?

Since the last entry, not much has changed climbing wise, except the fact that I have even less time now, having started accepting work - mainly teaching - also during weekends. 
I do this because despite working full time every day, still I can't have enough to pay the bills. Not that teaching weekends will give me enough, but I have to get a little bit from whatever is possible. My work at the law firm is done gratis et amore, because this is how it works in Italy: you have to practice with a lawyer for one year and half, and this is compulsory, you work for him or her, you go in Court, you write papers, contracts and acts, you study the cases, and you don't get a single Euro for it. Nada. Zero. Niente. 
So, this leaves me with two other jobs: teaching and translating. 
Teaching is poor at the moment, winter means less students and this means working weekends to get some money; translating is kind of right, I'm currently doing a new book, for which I'll be paid probably in 2015. 
I don't regret any of my decisions, this is just how things are at the moment. 
One thing really pisses me off though: when I hear people complaining about having too much work, and having to climb "only in weekends". 
Climbing on rock Saturday and Sunday is something that dates back a lot of time for me, so when I hear this kind of comments I tend to get angry: the last time I went climbing for more than two days is exactly February 2012 (U.K.), and the time before, February 2011 (U.K.). 
Anyway. Enough of this. 
I'm trying to keep my training up despite everything, and in the search of more power I bumped into a couple of articles about the benefits of short sprints: this one and this one.  
So I started doing short sprints (around 15 meters) slightly uphill, in front of my house, before a system or fingerboarding or bouldering session. They're brutal and a total body recruitment which is very nice. I eat like a monster in the following days. 


Jump! The last bit of the warm up before breaking the barrier of sound.

Generally speaking I feel tired from a lot of training but also from recent bad eating habits. Power seems to be fine, but last time on the feet on campusing I was absolutely nothing; I did not panic though: I had just completed 12 sets with the small foothold and 6 kg on, so probably I was not 100% ready for PE... 
Obviously all my climbing plans went out of the window: from February, to Spring, to Autumn, to - hopefully - Christmas. 
I did a comp on Saturday, and climbed nothing. Not even on the Moonboard. 
Hmmm... 
As soon as possible I want to check my one armers. 
And that's all. 
 
 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

POST HOLIDAYS REST AND REALIZATION

After the holidays, I felt I really needed some rest, and planned a week off after some good training: a friend of mine have built a board in his garage, and I took great pleasure in going there with some friends to pull down hard; those sessions have been really great, not only thanks to the good company and vibes, but also because we were on holidays, and each session saw someone bringing over cakes, Prosecco wine, and the likes. I also had a Champagne fuelled session on my board in which I crushed a project. Yay! All it takes to climb hard is: no work, lots of sleep, food and Champagne. As easy as it gets. 
Unlike my board, my friend's one have normal footholds, and it's allowed to step on the handholds. Despite making things - apparently - easier, I found out that the better footholds allowed for some crazy upper body action and positioning, working my arms, back and fingers in a completely different way than my board. Both overhang 54 degrees. 
So, my week off started quite well: I had climbed on Monday, the last day of the holidays, and spent Tuesday and Wednesday resting. Then I trained or climbed four days in a row. Dammit. Friends are Evil. Now I really needed some rest. This time this was better done thanks to my bread-cutting ability. While preparing a sandwich for the day's climbing, on Sunday I cut through a good 3 mm of my left thumb. I taped it and went climbing, but got home with the tape soaked in blood. 
It took a while to finally heal, but still now after a serious session, some blood can be seen under the skin. 
Letting go of the training for a few days, made my mind strong to start again, but my body had given in. 
I did some excellent fingerboarding to ease myself back in, with a very good session. I tested myself on the monos and pockets, and found good improvements despite not training them for a couple of months if not more, which led me to questioning the misteries of training. 
I also added 2 kg to my one armed hangs on the incut rung of the Beastmaker: +14 for left hand, +18 for right hand. This session was heavy. The following day my arms and back were thrashed, and when I stepped on the board for some bouldering - after a few weeks dedicated to system training - I wad shocked by how hard my problems felt. Like, I couldn't do the moves in isolations: I either was strong when I did them, or weak now. Or both. A rude awakening. Very rude. 
Right now things are going better, and I also retained some Power Endurance. 
Here are some images that sum it all up. 

A good problem that gave my left thumb a hell. 



Some compression on pinches, but no thumbs. 



Some deadhangs on wide slopey pinch/edges.


A good go on the circuit, getting to hold number 23, with only 7 more moves - the hardest part - to do! 

These last months have been very important on many aspects, climbing included: once I realized that I can't project hard things on rock, for the usual reasons that I ignored for the last ten years - filling this blog with utter bullshit, idiotic thoughts and envious ramblings that now make me very ashamed - I started having some fun again. 
My projects are on my board and on the Beastmaker, and they just represent the climbing spin off of the only project I've ever had: being strong. As strong as I can be in that specific moment of life.
Until now it's been climbing, but it could be weights, or something else. 
This is a clarifying vision and a realization.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As trivial as they sound, some things are to be said. 
Happy 2014 to you all is one of these. 
Other trivial habit is the one that wants the blogger to give a detailed account of the past holidays: how many dinners, how many girls, how many new problems climbed and new areas visited, how many kilos put on. 
I like being trivial, so the answers are: many; one; zero; zero; zero. 
Sticking at what you're good at, on the other hand, may not be considered trivial and it's one of the things I like to do the most. 
I am good at fingerboarding and at being an idiot, and this video proves it: 
http://vimeo.com/83423906
Ciao.