In the second of a series of articles and insights into the unscientific training regime of an unprofessional rock climber (me!), I offer a few thoughts on goals and benchmarks and their value in maintaining motivation to train in time frames both short and long. The first article was about how starvation and guilt can enhance any training program and it obviously should not be missed.
It's important to have a variety of training goals in any sport to maintain a healthy level of fun and focus and climbing is really no exception. This Spring I am looking forward to tackling probably the biggest climbing goal I've ever conjured up. While the thrill of such 'long term' goals is enough both to make me reduce my weekly beer intake by several pints and to possibly add some structure to my training, maintaining a modicum of day to day psyche requires more appropriately targeted goals. For instance, while climbing a full YDS number grade harder might require months of invested time, an improvement of a letter grade or a V-grade might take a week or less and therefore is a more appropriate 'short term' goal. Not all goals need be as abstract as grade targets, although they can be just as good a motivating factor as a specific route just so long as they don't become psychological baggage. Realizing short term goals and benchmarks can be the absolute key to maintaining motivation as training can be painful and frustrating and at times seem pointless without a more consistent sense of achievement. Goals need not even be strictly climbing related and sometimes a little creativity in goal setting can be refreshing. To wit: in three hours of climbing gym sessioning this morning I was able to earn my goal of eating 1.5 Mighty-O donuts. This is a very favorable equation. Note that the donuts are not the reward/goal so much as the lack of guilt while eating them. Also, donut grease on my hands makes 5.14 feel almost like a piece of cake...so to speak. Also, I bought the donuts initially so this is an interesting psychology I've got going on here.
Needless to say, with my goal realized I now have the motivation to set another goal, possibly related to actually eating lunch. Carry on.