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Staying away from injuries…

Injuries and practising sport at a high level unfortunately go hand in hand. It hits some harder than others, but rarely anyone can avoid them completely. Reacting properly in case of an injury sure is important, but even more so is trying to prevent them from happening in the first place.

With half a dozen serious climbing injuries over the last 20 years injury prevention has become a major thing for me. In the section training tips you will find some basics, most of which are ridiculously obvious. Still, I keep finding myself ignorimg them from time to time. An overly quick warmup or refusal to stop training if need be are easy ways to tweak a finger, knee or shoulder. Most of the times these small tweaks will disappear in a week or so, but sometimes they linger on. This brings me to the question:

When does a tweak become an injury?

Before answering this, let me describe the situation I'm currently in: As I'm aiming for a goal that is at my limit I want to train at 100%. This means that choosing the training intensity feels like walking on the razor's edge. Too much will cause overtraining, injury and performance loss, but too little might not lead to succes.

If I'm honest, right now three fingers, one elbow and one knee regularly hurt. And no, it's the other knee this time ๐Ÿ˜• . At the same time I reckon myself injury-free, since I don't have to hold back when grabbing holds and I can do almost every move (including big dropknees). These tweaks are a sign that I'm training at my limit, but they can turn into an injury if Im not careful. It almost feels like a bit of a gamble. On the other side, they keep me vigilant, and remind me to stick to my own rules for preventing injuries.

So to answer the question above, I see the occasional pain or tweak as a clear reminder that the limit is reached, and that pulling harder will lead to an injury. The very clichรฉ 'listening to your body' makes sense after all, doesn't it?

Some years ago I had to tape several finger to climb pain-free

Season two: Changes and plans

Season one on the project showed me many things I could learn from and adapt for this season:

  • climbing 9b is harder than I thought ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • My overall endurance wasn't good enough
  • March and April proved to be the best months for good conditions on 'Fight or Flight'
  • Trying one project only can quickly get you out of shape
  • It's easy to get over-obsessed

Based on these observations (and taking in account some Fall-rocktrips) I made up a schedule for this season. The biggest differences will be that I decided to skip both basetraining (phase I) and the Spain trip around New Year's Eve. This enables me to right away focus on the training that I think is necessary to climb the route.

2019 schedule

You can find a rough timeline for this season in the main Training section (scroll down), where you can see that I started a month later than last year. This worried me a little at first, but since my endurance level at the start was a lot higher than in the first season, I quickly realized that it might not be that big a problem. I really feel that every season of sportclimbing (rather than only bouldering) ups your baselevel by a notch and makes it easier for the next season to get started at a higher level.

Even though I would have loved to make a trip to Spain in December, I decided the days are better spent on training in the gym. It's a little sad, but I think rockclimbing as a preparation only works well if combined with gym training. Most of the time during a trip I just get weaker towards the end, and have to reactivate with some gym sessions. Respect to those who stay fit only climbing on rock!

That said, I decided to make two trips to Oliana this year, two weeks each in March and April. Even though temperatures are higher than in winter, the wind and shadow makes up for it. Plus it gives me enough preparation time.

training

So far I finished my power training (phase II) and just switched to endurance (phase III). I'm not completely happy with my bouldering strength, but therefore my endurance is better than expected. I focussed a little more on getting endurance, which (at least my body thinks) doesn't go together with that explosive power.

I also saw from last year that it's very easy to get too motivated and overtrain. As I explained in my last post I've been busy lately and I felt tired while training. A week of cutting down to 70% and finishing training with still some energy left proved a great idea (thanks Katha...). I'll keep you up to date on progress!

Guess who’s back ;)

Yep, project-9b 2.0 is happening! I’m back to training, preparing, getting psyched, and will be sharing again on this website. Let me explain the six month void on this blog.

As my first season of projecting came to a premature end with a knee injury in April 2018, I put the project on hold until next season (which is now…). I enjoyed my last competition season (my 16th WC season!) and finished my career at the World Championships in Innsbruck in September. Quite the relief, but also a bit melancholic ๐Ÿ™‚ . Katha and I had planned lots of travels, so after being on the road for about three months, I got back home end of November. I must say I was in great crack climbing shape, but I hadn’t been sport climbing too much…

The plan was to spend the entire winter up to April on project9b for 100%. Of course that was a bit unrealistic. I might have written before that I’m doing another Masters at university, which had been on hold while I was travelling, and needed some devotion. Result is that since December I’ve been doing a huge split between lab work and gym training. Doesn’t sound too bad (and it actually works), if it stayed with that. But the usual pro-climber stuff (yes it actually takes time ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), some routesetting, IFSC voluntary work, a part time job I started, and hey, all of the sudden everything became quite busy!

Even though I still dedicate a big chunk of my time to climbing, I’ve never really made it work to focus 100% on climbing. I know many of you face a situation of trying to share work and climbing, so I think the question of how one affects the other is quite interesting. I realize I have more time to train than many of you, but I guess the important question is how much time (including rest) is necessary to accomplish for example a project like mine.

Anyway back to topic, I’ll write some more soon on how I planned my training this season (since there’s quite some differences to last year), and how my plans for the coming months look like.

Project 9b part 2.0?!

I’ve gotten lots of questions about my knee injury and the continuation of the project. It’s been pretty quiet from my side (sorry for that) and I’m happy to see you guys are still supportive! The main reason for my absence here was that I had put project 9b on hold and didn’t really know when I would reactivate it. Now, I owe you a long due update:

First of all, the knee is fine! I should say 95% fine, since there’s still some things I can’t do, like Adam-style dropknees or comp-style mantles, but I’m really happy with recovery. I honestly think it’s the most ‘friendly’ injury I’ve had, especially compared to finger injuries. So from that perspective: good to go!

That leaves the question when I’m going to get back working on it. I’ve thought about that quite a lot since April, and the short answer is: November. I always planned to put the project on hold from May onwards, to focus on competitions, and await conditions. Temperatures are too high for ‘Fight or Flight’ until late Fall, and I have some other plans as well (Yosemite!!!). This made me decide to go for the exact same schedule as last year: Start training in November, get fit through winter (maybe short trips), send in March/April! That is the ideal plan, let’s see how it goes ๐Ÿ˜‰

That gives me a lot of time to build up a crazy amount of psyche for project 9b part 2!

Injury vs 9b: 1 – 0

As you might have seen in my previous post, I’ve hurt my knee on a dropknee. It happened one week ahead of my third Spain trip, and as I was feeling fit again, timing couldn’t have been worse. I wanted to see if it would improve, before deciding on going to Spain or not. It did feel better after a few days, and as the swelling was almost gone, I tested what I could do. Some campus and hangboard training was alright, and even some one-foot bouldering was ok, albeit a little scary. The next day I tested routeclimbing using both feet, and although I could climb up to 8b, there were too many limitations. No high feet, no slight knee twists,ย  and for sure no heel hooks or dropknees. I decided that Spain was not gonna happen.

Injuries

I’ve had many injuries in the past, so I know the procedure.

  • stop training
  • find out how bad it is
  • get diagnosed
  • visit therapists
  • rehab

I’m happy to live in a country where I can visit specialists and therapists without it costing me a fortune. Shortly after deciding to cancel my trip, an MRI showed that both MCL and ACL (knee ligaments) are partially torn. Both doc and physio told me that hard climbing was out of the question for a while, but that straining the knee (and thus some climbing) would be possible wearing a brace.

What now??

I must say I’m quite frustrated that project-9b has come to a halt for a while. On the other hand, I knew from the start that injuries would be a part of the process. I also realize that the injury could be worse, and that I can actually do quite a lot of training. My main concern goes to healing and strengthening those ligaments, because avoiding dropknees in the future is not an option to me. I decided to take 10 days off, giving my body some rest after a strenuous winter. This will enable me to train through summer and fall, as the plan still is to join some lead worldcups.

As for project-9b, it has become so important to me, there’s no giving up. I also saw how close I actually got, and this gave me a huge motivation. I think ‘Fight or Flight’ will have to wait for Fall or next Spring, since it will get too hot soon. I’ll look for other routes that I can start working on (‘Lapsus’ maybe?), as soon as my knee will let me.

As was correctly commented earlier, not only the good times of the process are interesting, but also the down times. I’ll keep you up to date on the rehab!

Good news and bad news

The good news is that I’ve booked my flights to Spain for round 3 on #project9b!
The bad news is that I hurt my knee and I can’t climb at the moment…

I’ve been at home for two weeks now, and though it was hard to get back to fitness, it’s coming. My idea was to be at home for three weeks, rest and get fit, then head back and SEND! So far the ideal situation. Reality is that I still feel sick now and then, but in between I had some good climbing days. I was surprised my power endurance hadn’t really gone down much, but my max power was lacking. Some campussing, bouldering, dead hangs, and as I booked my flights for April 4 – 17, I felt ready for action.

The move wasn’t even that hard, but the feet were high, and as I dropped my knee in classy French style, I felt a sharp sting on the inside of my right knee. I can’t recall a sound, but the feeling itself wasn’t great, so I called it good and went home. The next day my knee was swollen, painful and I couldn’t walk properly. A visit to the doctor lead to an MRT appointment next week, the day before I fly…

I’m super bummed, as I can see my chances for this year slowly disappear. But hey, I never had a knee injury before, and I always said they’re better than finger injuries because you can still train ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess I’ll have to wait until Tuesday to decide whether I’ll go to Spain or not. I’ll just hope for the best!

End of Spain trip #2 – no cigar

I battled, gave it all, got close, but didn’t get to celebrate quite yet…

Trip Recap

I’ve tried ‘Fight or Flight’ for the last two weeks and made good progress right at the start of the trip. Feeling a big improvement from my last trip in December, I was confident that during this trip a send was well possible. The route dried up and with some good conditions I hoped for more progress, but instead ran into a wall (see previous posts).

Right at the end of this trip I felt more or less recovered and climbed to my highpoint: the upper crux! I got close, lacking four moves to the top jug, but unfortunately ran out of energy (and conditions) on the very last days.

A little below my highpoint. The top edge of the photo is the victory jug. (Photo: G. Mionske)

On my way home now, my feelings on this trip are quite mixed. I came with all the strength and confidence I could have hoped for, and I’m going back tired, sore and feeling weak.

What now?!

This might sound a bit negative, but it honestly is the exact opposite. I learned so much from this trip, and I remain positive. My expectations with a 70:30 sending probability might have been on the positive side, but I’ve learned that this works better than a lack of confidence. At first it was quite hard to take setbacks (especially those I couldn’t explain), but then I learned to accept them. They’ll make succes even sweeter.

The plan is to rest and recover (I’m really really tired), return to the fitness I had previous to this trip, and come back in about three weeks. It might sound strange but I’m still confident my fitness before the trip is enough for success.

A thank you

I realised that this website has helped me a lot along the way. I think it’s important to keep track of the process, to see what worked out well, and where problems appeared. It’s also been fun to see so many people interested in this project, and I’m happy with all the good feedback and comments!

So stick with me, project-9b is far from over, and let me know if you have wishes or feedback.

Over and out. Jorg is going to sleep for a couple of days ๐Ÿ™‚

Rest days best days!

As I explained in my previous post, I wasn’t feeling so strong, and it was frustrating not to know why. I’ve taken it easy for the last couple of days, and I’m making good use of a bad weather spell for double restdays now. That gave me some time to think…

Things I should do different

The most important and underlying thought is to stop worrying. If I feel bad, so be it! Finding out why, is important, but counting the remaining days and worrying what to do is not productive. I’ve been having some headaches, and I just accepted I must have picked up something that’ll go away anytime soon.

I must admit I was a bit stressed filming for project-9b, since our timeframe was short. I think this has been the first external pressure I’ve felt, and I decided to let it be the last. This project is something I care about, something I love to share with people, and I don’t want it to be influenced by external factors. I’ve felt this before, climbing in front of the camera is always different, but one lesson I learned is to not let it influence your climbing.

Patience once again is the word that comes up, and as I keep saying: Rest days best days! I sometimes forget that not only skin and body need rest, but also the mind. During the last two days I’ve felt power and motivation (or positive spirit) come back, so let’s see what happens.

I’ve updated the section Projecting tips, as this past week I’ve learned more about it than ever before!

Restday activity: exploring Catalonian backcounty…

The hard part of project-9b

Well I must say, project-9b suddenly kicked back at me and it feels like I hit a wall.

The highs and the lows

Right after some great progress at the start of this trip, which caused a huge leap in both my motivation and confidence, I noticed that the next days I felt really tired and burnt out. Since it was raining anyways, I was happy to take two days off and let my skin repair. Where I had felt strong and in control the last few days, the next days would be the complete opposite.

Jon Glassberg had joined me to film and document the process of project-9b and he was keen to hear I felt confident. The next day we went up to find great conditions and some chill temperatures at the same time. As the locals predicted, Oliana in March or April really sees good conditions, not too cold but very windy.

After a quick warmup I went up ‘Fight or Flight’ to fix a static for Jon to film. The moves felt good, everything was dry and I felt ready. I gave it a good redpoint burn, climbed through the initial moves and stuck crux #1. Good so far, but then I got a little lost and dryfired right before the rest. I initially thought ‘great! new highpoint, almost made it to the rest!’, but then realised that I felt powered down. One more try proved that to be true, and although I made it to the same point as before I just gave up while climbing.

middle trip downdays

The next day brought more of the same. I felt wrecked from the previous day and couldn’t get my fingers warm. I tried hard on the route, but couldn’t get anything done. While trying to do crux #2 as a single move, I ripped a hole in my index finger and had to stop. I tried to switch my attention to some other routes, so tried ‘Joe Mama’ (9a+), a route that Adam Ondra wanted to flash but had little beta for. I made some moves, but I knew the day was over, and that my will finger need quite some restdays to heel.

During my previous trip in December, I had a very similar experience where I climbed until I was too tired and ignored a split tip. It took until the end of the trip to get back to feeling fresh and fit, so let’s see what happens this time. It’s frustrating that I can do only so few tries each day, and that I need so many restdays. I guess that’s all part of climbing a route that’s around your limit…

 

 

Progress on the route!

Spain trip#2

I’ve arrived in Oliana and I’ll spend the next two weeks working on ‘Fight or Flight’! As expected my motivation has sky rocketed, especially after two months of training and gym time. Hiking up to Oliana, it felt so good to be back and I could hardly wait to warm up and start trying. The wall was dripping wet from a recent storm, so I was surprised to see the upper half of the route dry. I battled through the waterfall-like start and got to work!

As I did the first couple of moves I knew right away something was different. It felt like either the route had changed or I had. Having worked on it so intensively in December, all the body positions, holds and feet felt so familiar, except that this time I was in control, instead of the route. The single moves felt like flowing, even cruxes #2 and #3 went down fairly easy. Sinking the last dyno into a mud puddle I knew that the route is within reach.

Oliana good times

On my way to Spain my baggage went missing, but fortunately I had a pair of climbing shoes in my hand luggage, and some friends helped out with gear. It’s been great seeing a lot of familiar faces at the crag, climbing together with Marco Jubes, Rannveig Aamodt, as well as some guys that are trying ‘Fight or Flight’ as well. Piotr Schab, Lucien Martinez and Patxi Usobiaga, an American crew coming soon, it’s going to be both crowded and motivating!

Oliana is like a magnet for the worlds’ strongest sport climbers, which is easily seen in the amount of nationalities at the crag, and is well displayed inย Chris Sharma’s videos Oliana Good times 2016 and 2017. You might think it’s annoying trying a project with several others, especially since the prime conditions are only a few hours each day, but it’s actually super fun and productive. Everyone has its own beta and by comparison and trial I constantly adjust and refine my own beta.

More progress

On my second day the wall had mostly dried up throughout the afternoon, making it possible to try the first half of the route as well. I tried Piotr’s idea to use a kneepad for crux #1, which worked like a charm. Icontinued to the rest, stuck crux #2, fired the dyno and was so surprised to climb that far, that I just tapped the top jug without even trying to grab it. The feeling that I could actually climb the route in non-ideal conditions from 10 moves in was a bit overwhelming, but shows that I closed the work-out chapter and can start the chapter of proper tries!

I still need a bit of time to process that feeling, but some more bad weather gave me time for that…