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How I Climbed My First 8a | Latticer Stories

Welcome to our new series of Latticer Stories! We want to bring you more insights as to how our athletes achieve their goals while training with Lattice; what’s the secret formula to attaining that dream grade, that one-arm hang or that extra pull-up? You might find a consistency with all our athletes featured here, and that is that they all work incredibly hard to get to where they are in their climbing!

Let’s celebrate that with a look into our ‘normal’ athletes and the many goals, grades and psyche that has come from our training plans. This week we’re chatting to Angus Harrison-Smart, a Premium Plan client training with Tom Randall who just climbed his first F8a while on a climbing trip in Kalymnos. Read on to find out more from Angus…

If you think you have your own story to tell, email [email protected].

So Angus, we were psyched to hear that you just climbed your first 8a! Could you tell us a little bit about this goal; how long have you had it and when did it seem attainable?

A main goal of mine, just like many other sport climbers was to climb F8a. For a while this goal was far away and seemingly unattainable, but at the start of summer (only a few months after staring my Lattice plan) the goal seemed within reach.

© Kieran Duncan

Tell us about the climb and how you felt for achieving that goal?

I climbed my first F8a – Daniboy while on a climbing trip in Kalymnos this month. After doing it much faster than I thought, clipping the chains was less about the excitement of actually doing the  route but more the realisation that the months of training that I had been doing at home had paid off! This just got me more psyched and motivated to stick with it, go home and train hard for the next goal.

Awesome to hear! Could you tell us about what you do for work, and how you fit your training schedule around your day-to-day life?

I work as a landscape gardener and part time route setter/ instructor my local climbing wall, Avertical world. So I’m actually pretty flexible for when I can train, although having inconsistent working hours doesn’t really help when trying to get into a regular training pattern. Therefore I just organise my training on a weekly basis, prioritising the most important sessions.

After a while of getting used to the intensity and volume of different workouts, being able to split the day into a morning and evening session has allowed me to max out my training week. This works well for me as I can make the most out of my days off work while forcing a rest day in-between when I often have to do full working days, with no opportunity for climbing or training.

© Kieran Duncan

How do you feel from your training with Lattice?

As a whole I feel so much fitter and stronger from the training and being able to push that max grade is a direct sign of this. Also having months of structured training behind me really helps with my mental approach and confidence when looking at getting on some hard potential projects!

What are your future goals and how do you hope to achieve them?

As for future goals, it would be hard to mention them all! The obvious one being 8a+/b, for this I have my mind set on an 8a+ in Céüse called “Face de rat” that I saw this past year when visiting for the first time. I’ll be going on this trip in spring and will try to up the volume and intensity of training between now and then. Depending on how I feel on that route/ how fast it goes, I might even look at something harder!

As for stuff closer to home, I would like to go and finish off a local E5 that I tried earlier this year if the weather ever allows! And as my training for sport climbing goes hand in hand with pushing my trad grade, I think next year I’d like to push this a bit further still and set my eyes on some E6/7s. Obviously my hopes are high for next year so I’m putting more time and effort into reaching these goals. I plan on working a bit less to focus more on training and making sure I’m well rested. Generally improving my diet and getting out on rock as much as possible, a major weakness of mine is flexibility, so I will be giving that extra attention over the next few months. As well I hope to get out on some Scottish winter routes this year to keep the season fun!- if you can call it that?!

© Kieran Duncan

What are the best pieces of advice you would give to others with regards to training towards their goals?

The best pieces of advice I could give for reaching goals would probably be: Trust the process – everyone has bad sessions and weak days, it’s too easy to pack in the training day there and go home or get pulled away and distracted by a newly set boulder or route! If you’ve planned to go to the wall and know the sessions you have to do, unless there’s potential for injury just stick with it. Just go, max out! And at least then at the end of the day, you’ve followed the plan and completed the session(s) which is much better than just sacking the whole thing off. Even if you lower the weight/difficulty, you’ve gone in and put in the effort so you’ll be closer to your goal and will have the mental reward of knowing you’ve stuck with it.

Another piece of advice would probably be the obvious one of keeping it fun! Taking training and climbing too seriously – for me anyway – can negatively effect psyche. Being stuck in a smelly basement all day grunting away while all your friends are outside clipping chains isn’t a good feeling to have all the time, not to mention all this hard work is no use if you never actually go and apply your new strengths to the goals you’re wanting to achieve! But for sure, train hard and when you do escape the basement you can go and burn off your mates and flash their projects! That’s normally enough to keep me psyched!

© Kieran Duncan

Angus’ coach, Tom Randall, had something of his own to say about Angus’ training…

“Angus is one of those climbers that finds that almost perfect blend between “attention to detail” and “just get on with it” in his training. I guess, not surprisingly, it’s often easy for many to get drawn into over-analysing every single aspect of their training or performance and then completely forget that the “just do it” part also exists! When I look at Angus’s approach, he finds that solid balance which means success is much more likely from both a physical point of view and also a psychological standpoint. For example, when coming up to the latest Kalymnos trip, he messaged me saying he was heading off on a bit of a last minute trip, but wanted to still broadly stick with his plan (and whatever improvements he was trying to make) but was also motivated by the idea of fingerboard whilst out there if needed! What he didn’t do, was over-think the length of the climbs he might do and how that might relate to his current cycle, or panic that his current fingerboard cycle might not result in the highest levels of recruitment. He simply wanted to stick with the broad plan of training, adjust a little for the trip but mostly to get stuck into the climbing on Kalymnos! In summary, what I’m trying to illustrate here, is that whilst it’s very cool to be detail obsessed with training, it’s also important to trust that your coach has that detail covered and accounted for and not to take on the mental burden of thinking through every possible training repercussion…”.

© Kieran Duncan

All photos in this article were provided by Kieran Duncan. You can follow Angus on Instagram here, and keep checking our blog every Monday for a new Latticer Story!

Start your own Premium Training Plan with us by emailing [email protected].

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