Here at Chia Charge we're happy to support a number of athletes who love and live a wide variety of sports and athletics. We're delighted to have Jennifer on board but we won't say too much, over to Jennifer...
Jennifer please can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into climbing?
I started climbing after someone suggested it as something to do at my 10th birthday party. I wasn't that good but I loved it and was soon going about twice a week getting ready for my first competition. I did better than I expected which gave me the motivation to start training properly and going more regularly.
How do you prepare for competitions?
A couple of weeks before a competition I will try and get to lots of different climbing walls around the country so I can try a variety of climbing styles and also practice onsighting (which is what we say when you have never seen a climb before or seen any one climb it so you have to work it out for yourself). For bouldering competitions there is isolation for qualifiers as well as semis and finals so onsighting is a really important skill. I tend to have a couple of days rest before a competition or do really easy climbing. Then on the day I will have a big breakfast as isolation can be up to 3 hours, I nibble on snacks during warm up and listen to happy music.
What’s your biggest climbing achievement to date?
My biggest climbing achievement was making the finals of the senior British Bouldering Championships last year. Out of the 6 people that made the final, there were 2 people ranked in the top 4 in the wold and 2 ranked in the top 15 and I was still a junior. It was also the first competition where I realised just how hard I could try. My best results are probably being British Junior Bouldering Champion in 2013 and getting a World Ranking of 9th for Junior Lead Climbing in 2013. This year I became a senior and have found the step up to senior internationals difficult though really enjoyable. In the two World Cups I have done this year I came 27th and 33rd and I'm really looking forward to improving on this next year.
Have you got any more competitions coming up later this year?
October the 5th is the British Lead Climbing Championships. I have not focussed on lead this year but my bouldering training has really helped improve my overall climbing ability so although I am not taking the competition too seriously I am hoping for a good result. The University competitions will also start soon with the first round of the Northern University Bouldering Series in November, I am hoping to retain my title.
Do you have a favourite climbing spot?
I haven't actually climbed outside a lot but now I live in Sheffield I am hoping to do a lot more this year. Out of the places I have been to Fontainebleau in France is my favourite, there is just so much good climbing at all grades and I can't wait to go back in December.
Which do you prefer, bouldering or climbing?
I was always a lead climber as a junior because there were more national and international competitions than bouldering. However since becoming a senior at the start of this year I decided to focus on bouldering. I wanted a break from lead as I had been focussing on it for around 5 years, I also thought the bouldering would help me become a better overall climber as it would help me get stronger and more powerful. After a year of bouldering I have improved massively and realised that I really prefer the competitions to lead ones. In lead comps you get 1 go at 2 routes so if you make a mistake that's it you probably wont get a good result and you don't get to do much climbing, whereas in bouldering comps you have 5 minutes on each of the 5 problems so it doesn't really matter if you slip on your first go because you can have another.
People often forget that sports nutrition is important to a climber, can you tell us what you eat to stay in tip top shape?
People still aren't really sure about nutrition for climbing but basically you want to be light and strong so I try not to eat too much rubbish. On a normal day I usually have a big breakfast of Oatibix or porridge with chia seeds on top and a banana, then salad or a sandwich for lunch, during a training session I'll have a Chia Charge flapjack to keep me going, then I'll have something like wholemeal pasta with red kidney beans and veg for dinner. As a vegetarian I have found it hard to get enough protein in my diet but adding chia seeds to meals really helps me get enough to recover after a hard session.
Any advice for those just starting out?
Climbing is a great sport for beginners because you can still get to the top of the wall but on easier grades so you always get that sense of achievement. It is also a very sociable sport so if you go for a boulder on your own there'll probably be someone to climb with. My advice would be to go with a friend though, it is a lot easier to be motivated if there's a bit of healthy competition, and you'll need a belayer if you want to do routes.
A huge thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to answer our questions, you can follow more from the climbing wall on her blog by clicking here.