Last spring, when my work was getting particularly gloomy, I decided to spend my lunch time sprucing up the cork board above my desk. I needed a reminder of why it was worth it to drive an hour from work to get to the climbing gym to train. I knew I had to stay motivated and go climb, though sometimes all I really wanted to do was smash the jelly doughnuts in the break room and take a nap.
To ward off the dreariness, I printed out whatever google images had available for the routes at the Red River Gorge that I was excited about. When my coworkers would ask me what I was up to over the weekend, I would point to one of the pictures on my desk , smile really big, and say “I’m gonna go bag this route”.
And I did. It was a blast. Each weekend getaway to the red would yield another tick–I would take the route’s picture down as soon as I sent it, and pin another on the board.
They say “never lose sight of your goals” so I made sure to put my goals where I could see them everyday (even sometimes on the weekends, unfortunately).
When making goals at the beginning of a training plan, there are three key components that should be considered:
Choosing a route, or a handful of routes to train for is far superior to saying “I want to send an 11d outside.” When training, it is good to customize the program with the goal in mind. With the variety of terrain that can be classified as “11d”, it is more beneficial to choose a specific 11d, be aware of the cruxes on the route, and keep the unique challenges of this route in mind as training progresses.
Sure, I would love to climb 5.13d, but my hardest onsight is a 5.11a–so it would be pretty stupid to start trying to work a 13d, wouldn’t it? In How to Climb 5.12, renowned trainer, Eric Horst, recommends choosing projects that are approximately, 4-6 letter grades above your hardest onsight. (Keep in mind this is in terms of single pitch sport climbs). Additionally, training programs are a relatively short-term commitment (8-12 weeks)–it is important to choose goals that congruent to the timeline of training.
If the goal isn’t getting you psyched before you start training–it definitely won’t keep you motivated when you’re in the middle of a tough workout. Pick something that, when asked about it, you want to launch into a full cinematic Reel Rock interview about how stoked you are to do this thing.
In summary, goals that are specific, attainable, and inspiring are a solid basis for a training program. Clear, stoke-inducing objectives will keep you motivated, even when the going gets tough.