Backyard Training Sessions
If you want to be the best, you need to train like the best, and if you want to train like the best, you need to train with the best. Then, you learn how to train harder than the best and in my case that meant building a 10- metre arch, out my back door.
When you pursue a sport to its infinite, it means going all out, no-holds-bar, full-tilt with everything you got. There’s no ifs, ands or buts, just do. That, of course, means training until it hurts, trying to unlock the perfect regimen so you can find the path to your ultimate goal. Train, train, train, train, train and train again.
As I was sitting at my good fr iend Pavel’s house, in Moscow, we were neck deep in conversation about training. Fresh off the last world championship in Kirov, Russia, we were fired up about getting stronger, being better, trying harder. Throughout the conversation, I couldn’t help keep coming back to the fact that North Americans were at a disadvantage. In Russia, competitors have two different world cup-like structures to train on. That’s two more than North America. Having that type of training at your fingertips, well, it’s no wonder the Russians dominate. With that particular point, there was no discrepancy, only a nod of Pavel’s head followed with, “You must find a way to train harder.”
Like waking up from a nightmare I jolted out of my sleeping bag, lightning fast, woken by who knows what. I had an idea, heart racing, clear as day, I could see the way forward. I searched around in the dark for my laptop, trying to hold onto the vision, only to find the battery was dead, crap. Jumping out of bed at 3 a.m., waking everyone up, I hurr ied to find a piece of paper and pen. “Shhhhhhh,” was coming from every corner of the room, five different people in sync. It didn’t matter; I was on a mission to get the idea onto paper before it was too late.
Sometimes when you have an idea, you stop and think, it’s too big, too crazy, too (whatever other excuse you can come up with.) But once in a while, you step back for a sec and think – why the heck not. From a dream to a piece of paper, came an idea that was going to be the future of my training, to further me in pursuit of competitive climbing.
My idea was an arch, it was clear as day, and I could train better, more specific, more efficient. I wanted to be stronger, smarter and faster. I was going to build it in my backyard, which is not big, and it already had a bouldering gym. Screw it; I’ll build the arch on top of the bouldering gym. It was going to take a shoe-horn to squeeze it into the remaining
My idea was an arch, it was clear as day, I could train better, more specific, more efficient. I wanted to be stronger, smarter and faster. I was going to build it in my backyard.
real estate of our property. I say ‘our’ as my wife does own the backyard too. She has been surprisingly supportive of my crazy plans, giving the thumbs up without much hesitation. I knew I could pull it off because I could see it, I could feel it.
Crashing through the trees, the crane hauled eight 10- metre logs into my backyard. The neighbours were all watching from their back decks, wondering what the heck was going on, and observing the chaos that was to be ‘the beginning.’ After spending an entire day digging two five-foot holes by hand, we lowered two of the tower ing logs into the ground. They fit perfectly. Hours after the dust had settled, I stood on my back deck and just stared at what I had just done. What was I thinking? Really? This is too crazy. Ser iously, who does this? Well, I had, and with good reason. Although I was terr ified of the project at hand, and what was involved to finish such a beastly task, I found myself smiling, thinking game on.
Every night, putting in as many hours as possible before sundown, I would be in the backyard working away. I would balance at the top of the ladder and chainsaw branches away, then haul lumber up and hammer it into place. Things began to take shape, I could see the end-result, I could feel the energy, and I could feel the momentum. I set an end-date to be finished, a day I wanted to be climbing on my structure. As the date approached I spent more and more hours hammering, sawing and piecing my architectural masterpiece together.
Once it was completed, I screwed the holds on, removed the ladders and roped up. Once just a vision, my arch was now a behemoth structure a few metres from my backdoor. It was ready for training, and ready for the next step. To look at it, to stare at it up and over and back again, realizing what I had built in my backyard, the possibilities to where training could go, I couldn’t help be filled with a huge sense of confidence. There were to be no more excuses, no more reasons to ‘why not,’ only that I had done it.
The arch is a 10 m wall, arcing over my backyard, finishing on top of my already built boulder ing gym. Holds sprayed from one side to the other, huge silver volumes spearing out, adding a three-dimensional vibe, my backyard had become a futur istic trainingground. Quickdraws hang, spaced a metre apart, they protect falls with little swing time. The possibilities on my plywood-canvas were endless. My ability to train properly for world cup climbing was unlimited. I could train like some of the other top athletes, who also train on world cup-like structures, br inging my routine into a specific realm that could give me an advantage.
Why the backyard? Well, because it’s only a few metres from my back door, allowing me to hang at home more. I travel a lot, and spend time with my wife and kids, which is very important to me. Without them, their support, none of what I do would be possible. My kids love the arch, which is rad. Watching them climb makes me so proud and happy. My wife, bless her heart, comes out every night and belays me.
I have always told myself, “No excuses. Be creative. Dig deep. Go forward.” My arch is one of many tools I have to train. All of it combining for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next year.