Timing Your Training

Anyone who has attempted speed climbing understands how many different ways there are to mess up your attempt. Sometimes your lower section beta is perfect, but you miss a hold halfway through and your time doesn't reflect that you nailed the beginning. Other times your entire run felt good, but not great, but you still ended up with a good time. It becomes clear very quickly that if you want to truly become better, you need a more in depth analysis than a single time can provide.

Speed climbing is like every other sprint in that whoever is the fastest from gun til done is the winner. But if you look at professionals in other sprint sports, they do not only time the distance of their event but rather multiple aspects of it. For 100m dash athletes, it is very common to test the 0-30m and the flying 30m in training to asses maximal velocity. In competition, every 10m is measured in order to be studied by sport scientists and coaches alike.

If you want to ensure you are improving and analyze where you need to improve the most, you need to be able to measure your speed not just from start to finish, but at different intervals throughout the route. And let's be honest, stop watches don't cut it when you want precision because humans are pretty unreliable. Below you will find my favorite timing solutions that go beyond the typical timing for speed climbing and allow you to break down your race at a whole new level.

HUDL and Coach's Eye - Free with in app purchases

Everyone has a phone and everyone loves free apps. My two favorite phone apps that allow you to record and analyze your performances are HUDL Technique and Coach's Eye. Both of these apps provide the ability to do frame by frame analysis of your recordings and have stopwatch tools that will allow you to get a frame perfect time for your climbs. While the apps are free, certain tools do require an in app purchase. HUDL has the most robust toolset for the free versions, so you might want to start there. However, for the cost of a cup of coffee or two, you can have an accurate and always available timing solution for your training on the app of your choice.

Setup tip: buy a cheap phone tripod and always have it in the same place for accurate comparisons between attempts.

Overall Grade- Dedicated athlete


But I don't want to download anything and my phone is out of space for new apps, you say. Never fear, Kinovea is here! Kinovea is an open source biomechanical suite for your computer that is far more powerful than needed to measure simple splits. But screw it, it's free and rather easy to use for this purpose so it makes the list. To use it, you will have to make a video and get it saved to your computer. From there you can analyze your videos, narrate, and export for others to see. There are numerous tutorials on the site if you are interested.
You can even do awesome frame analysis to ensure you're hitting the right angles for optimal power output.
Overall Grade- Obsessed future exercise physiology major

Freelap - $659

Apps are fun and stuff, but sometimes you don't wanna do any work. If it isn't easy to use, chances are you aren't going to use it and the last thing you want to do mid training is to divert your attention from your workout to your phone or PC. That's not how you stay in the zone.

Thankfully the Freelap timing system is easy to use and set up, and thanks to the wonders of technology will time you accurately to the 1/100 of a second. Due to the price of the Freelap, this is probably only going to be considered by those who are aspiring to become a professional. 

To use the Freelap for speed climbing you are going to have to get a little creative. My suggestion is to cut a small section of plywood that is about 3 inches longer than the base of the timing sensor. Drill a 1/2in hole through the wood to allow a 3/8in bolt to pass through, allowing the base to be mounted to the climbing wall like a hold. Use a 3M command strip or something similar to attach the sensor to the plywood baseplate. Now you can move the timers to where you see fit in order to get the timing data you need. 

Overall Grade- I wanna be the very best

Using a timing app, program, or device is not necessary to train and enjoy speed climbing and timing your attempts is not necessary for every workout. However, when plateaus hit and you are left wondering where to turn next, having hard data on the best and worst aspects of your race can be vital to help push you to the next level. 

My suggestion is to have a dedicated timing session for your sections every 3-4 weeks so you can begin to chart your improvements throughout the season. You can easily get your timing done on your dedicated high intensity days and not have to take up a training day just to test (although that can be useful as a means of having a mock competition during the times of the year when there aren't any). Keep an accurate journal of your times and don't overthink it if you have a temporary slump. One poor testing session doesn't mean you are on the wrong path. Multiple might mean that you want to rethink your training and progression. However, that is a topic for another time.

Post a Comment