RRG Redux Part 1 – In Pictures

The weeks leading up to my trip to the Red River Gorge were busy with career-related travel, school obligations, and socializing. In the last three weeks I’ve been in five different airports, eleven different states, and driven over 1,500 miles. Despite all the scurrying around, the trip I was training for was a success. I hope you enjoy some of my pictures–I will write up a full trip report soon!

Training Past Present and Future

When I graduated high school and stopped participating in organized sports, I realized I didn’t actually know how to work out. There’s something nice about being told exactly how to work out every day for six days a week. In determining my own workout schedule, I’ve tried a few different things over the years, depending on what I was interested in at the time, and what facilities I had available to me.




In my first year in college, I found distance running, so I did that for a while, eventually running two halfs and a marathon. I trained using the Hal Higdon plans, which had come highly recommended to me by more experienced runners. During this time I ran almost exclusively.

I ran a marathon in the fall of 2009 and a half the following spring, and by that point, I was ready for a change. I started climbing in my second year of distance running, but only got to the gym about once every two weeks. I climbed around 5.8 or 5.9, but mostly on vertical terrain.

In the summer of 2010, I got a fabulous book called The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and started exercising every morning in the gym in the basement of my office building. I lifted three days a week and dicked around in the gym doing whatever–cardio, random machines, abs, sprints in the parking lot–on the off days. Sometimes I ran on the weekends, but not very often.

I climbed outside for the first time in Fall 2010, while I was spending 4 months living in Peru. I discovered the thrill of lead climbing and the fun of spending a day outside on real rock, and never looked back. Since then, climbing has been an integral part of my exercise schedule. I spent about a year climbing almost exclusively, with a goal of climbing three days a week.


I like to joke that I lift on my rest days from climbing and climb on my rest days from lifting. In a good week, it’s pretty close to reality. I have access to enough steady climbing partners that I can train in the gym 3 times a week if my schedule allows.  I spent Jan-March training for a trip to the Red River Gorge, which I will depart for in exactly 12 hours! I’m feeling strong and quite psyched, despite a generally stressful week with not a lot of sleep.

The ultimate goal is to keep training through March to May, when I’ll depart for a 3 month climbing trip all across the country. Life, and my schedule, will change once again.

Inaugural Silent Feet Challenge

The silent feet exercise is something I picked up on during one of my first reads through The Self Coached Climber. It stood out to me because it seemed relevant, easy to try, and immediately challenged my climbing technique paradigm. The aim of the exercise is to teach precision in foot placements. If your foot makes noise, you’re not placing it precisely.

The Goal: Place your foot exactly where you want it, every time you move.

The Challenge: Two climbing partners, attempting silent feet on every climb for an evening’s training session, and more importantly, keeping score

The Prize: Eternal glory and a six pack of beer

Some observations…

  • Climbing precisely can often mean climbing slowly, especially on an unfamiliar route
  • Climbing slowly is easier in the first half hour than the last
  • It’s easier to be silent on overhang than on slab
  • I have not mastered the art of the silent smear
  • The silent feet challenge did force some pre-planning in foot placement, but not more than I do ordinarily. I was only forced to think 1-2 moves ahead most of the time.

The winner … not me. :(

My friend and I climbed a different number of routes over the course of the night, so we took an average of total noises/total climbs. The final scores in noises/climb were 4.27 for my victorious friend and 4.30 for myself. Close!

I bought the six pack on the way home from the gym, quite graciously. You can be sure I’ll be thinking silent in anticipation of next time!

Training Goals

A surprising number of my current training goals are related to lifting. Partly it’s that the climbing goals I’m interested in are all outdoors at the moment. The weather here precludes most outdoor climbing during the winter months, so I train in the (climbing) gym and dream about climbing outside. I’m headed for the RRG for a short trip in March–can’t wait!

In no particular order

  1. Dead lift body weight
  2. 1 unassisted pull-up
  3. 10 good push ups
  4. Squat body weight
  5. Lead 5.10a on an overhang

The one that matters to me the most is the pull up. Doing a real, unassisted pull-up has been my new year’s resolution for a couple years now, but I’ve never trained in a focused way to make it happen. In the past few weeks, I’ve been adding eccentric pull-ups to the end of all of my work-outs, even the climbing days. I can lower slower and do more reps than I used to be able to–progress!