The Training Diaries: Zhaina Myrzakhanova

Zhaina is a junior at West Point, studying Systems Design and Management. She won Women’s Speed Climbing at the 2014 CCS Nationals. She also has a pretty impressive resume from before entering CCS. She has won the Youth Asian Climbing Championship and placed 10th in Speed Climbing in the 2010 Youth World Championship in Edinburgh. Read on to find out how a West Point athlete trains for climbing competitions.

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How long have you been climbing: 8 years
Do you currently have a coach or were you previously coached in climbing: We have a team coach now, and I was also previously coached back home (Kazakhstan).
How many days per week do you usually train and for how long: 4-5 days a week for 2.5 hours.

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When does your team start practicing each year: August
Describe a day of training at the gym: Usually I warm-up for 10-15 minutes with cardio and active stretching. We practice as a team so I do the task for the day – anywhere from hangboarding to sport climbing to bouldering to playing frisbee on our off days. We have a general training schedule that helps us progress throughout the semester. This year we are starting to focus on speed training too (maybe once a week). Typically after our climbing workouts we’ll do a burn-down (conditioning workout) that consists of pull-ups, running stairs, abs, etc.

Describe some specific drills you do to train for your discipline (sport/speed/bouldering): Even though I placed in speed last year I don’t typically train for speed. I practiced speed when I was home in Kazakhstan and here at West Point I focus more on ropes. I really like endurance exercises where we climb one route back to back or do 10 minutes of non-stop climbing. We also implemented hang-board workouts this year; I think it definitely helps to make your fingers stronger.
What exercises do you think have helped you to progress the most in your climbing: Endurance climbing, pull up workouts, campus board workouts.

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Do you do any type of cross training (i.e. training that is not climbing-related, like running or swimming): In West Point we are all required to complete some certain PE Classes such as: combatives, survival swimming, boxing, etc. We also do a lot of conditioning as a team.
What is your competition day routine (i.e. stretches, mental prep, certain foods): Usually I warm-up first, do some stretches, and traverse. I try to always have fun and enjoy competitions, but at the same time I do some mental preparation so I do my best at the comp for my team. I try to eat only light food like yogurts or protein bars.

How important do feel climbing outside is for your progression: I don’t climb outside that often, but I believe if I did it would totally benefit me a lot. Whenever I do climb outside I do it for fun.

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How often do you climb outside: When it’s warm outside I try to go out on the weekends during school. We live really close to the Gunks so it’s really convenient for us to get out there and climb.

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