New New Years

31st December, let’s have a think: drinking, fireworks, celebrations. Kissing at midnight, time off from work, resolutions. There are plenty of traditions but it’s the last one i’m particularly going to focus on here.

For the majority of people, this is a perfectly sensible and logical time of year to set your resolutions for the next period. After all, it’s around the same time as the solstice where the days begin to get longer again as the winter begins to slowly give way to spring.

But as a rock climber, it’s not the best time of year really. For those of us blessed or foolish enough to live in close proximity to outdoor climbing, this is right in the middle of the winter training season. Nothing really changes at this point in your climbing routine: indoors in the evenings in the week, maybe outdoors at the weekends if you’re lucky with the weather. For those further from the crags, the short days may make the long trek to the hills unfeasible. With aggregate competitions becoming more popular now, it might even be bang in the middle of the comp!

So when is better? Well the obvious time by that logic has to be when the clocks change.

New New Years In March?

The end of March normally sees the clocks go forward and the scant hour or so after work turn into two. With that, the after work session becomes suddenly feasible, especially if you’re happy to walk out in the dark or even finish off your session under light of a lantern.

For the city dwellers, while the hours of daylight might remain the same, it does save any getting up at ungodly hours to head to the countryside and means your session isn’t likely to be cut short at 4pm. Weather pending of course.

But even there, this is the point where the weather starts to perk up a bit. This is the time of year that conditions will possibly be at their best – still cool and crisp but with a higher and higher likelihood of remaining dry.

Throw in those who spend their summer on other sports and this becomes an even more logical time to set season goals. Winter for climbing, summer doing something else. Makes sense really and the clocks changing gives this a bit more structure.

Mid-Season in October then?

Absolutely. It’s almost exactly the flip side of the clocks going forward. This is the time when your focus switches from projecting to training and the point where you’re better off employing yourself to getting stronger and working those weaknesses.

In a discussion with a friend and sponsored climber, he did, however mention that winter is when his projects fall. Conditions are so much better then, it’s colder and he’s absolutely right! But the fact is that even then, he’s unlikely to be found finishing work at 5 and heading out for an evening blast. Apart from anything else, in North Wales in December, it’ll probably be wet.

No i’m not suggesting that it’s about being exclusive indoor-winter outdoor-summer, not at all and if the focus and drive are there, ticking outdoor lines in the winter is not only satisfying but as my friend says, often slightly easier.

This is more about goal setting. In the first year, my summer training goals were as follows:

  • Three 8a climbs
  • At least 7c abroad
  • More first ascents and a comprehensive topo
  • SPA assessment

whereas my winter training goals were:

  • SPA Assessment
  • Top Five in the Indy Aggregate
  • At least one 8a climb
  • Create a coaching philosophy

So you can see the difference in the focus. There are still outdoor projects on both lists but the trend is different between them. And that’s all really.

That is why, every six months, you will see a post on the blog with a touch of Analysis of the season past and a set of short term and long term goals for the next. It’s a system that works very well and i would encourage anyone else to join me with the New New Year.

Best of psyche to you

For some New Years Posts, to see what it’s all about, click here

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