Project Description

Podcast is on iTunes is HERE
Direct Download: LINK
Date: December 7th, 2015

About Thomasina Pidgeon

Thomasina Pidgeon is a Canadian boulderer – one of the strongest Canadian female climbers, actually, having done over 40 boulders V11 to V12. She’s also competed quite a bit, and has been quite successful on national and international levels. She does this at the age of 40, all while living out of her van, which she’s done since she was 19 years old, and while raising her 9 year-old daughter.

I got to interview this very inspirational woman recently, and I hope you enjoy our talk!

What We Talked About

  • Van life and being a mom
  • Her training regimen designed by Steve Maisch
  • What’s different in her climbing now that she’s 40
  • How she trains now vs before she started competing
  • Her success on a high fat diet

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  • Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world 😉

Photo Credit

Tobias Leipnitz


Neely Quinn: Welcome to the TrainingBeta podcast where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and today I talked with Thomasina Pidgeon, who is a V12 boulderer and competition climber out of – well, she lives out of her van but she is stationed in Squamish right now and she’s from Canada. She’s on the Canadian climbing team.

I talked to her about living out of a van, her training program that she’s designed with Steve Maisch, and her goals, and what it’s like climbing as a 40-year old woman and mother. It was really interesting talking to her.

One other thing I wanted to talk about before the interview is just my shoulder. I’ve had several people write in and ask for sort of an update about what’s going on with my shoulder and with Seth’s shoulder. We might do an episode just on that but, basically, I’m a year out from having shoulder surgery on my left shoulder. I had a tenodesis and a bone spur removed. I didn’t have anchors put in, I didn’t have an actual ‘repair’ done. They just basically removed my biceps tendon from my shoulder and stuck it into my arm bone below it so that the tendon would stop giving me problems. That’s, a lot of times, what they do nowadays.

Basically, at one point I got back up to where I normally was climbing, like 5.13- in the gym and I haven’t really climbed outside much but my shoulder is good. It’s honestly – I was doing curls yesterday and it’s stronger than my other shoulder, which it’s never been before. It’s just more stable than my other shoulder. Sometimes I’ll have pain with it and I’ll have to go to my body worker here who’s like my god in ways because he kind of dictates whether or not I can climb. His name is Steve Melis and he fixes it up for me.

That’s one thing that I encourage anyone to do is to get really harsh, painful, tear-jerking body work done, whether you’ve had surgery or if you’re considering having surgery. I just asked him the other day what would happen if I went and got an MRI on my other shoulder, which has been bothering me, and they told me that my labrum was torn. He said, “Well, we would do about 4-6 sessions on it,” so basically 4-6 weeks of work on it, “and if we couldn’t get it to work right, then you would go down the surgery road.” I kind of wonder if I had to have this type of body work done before I had my other shoulder done if I would have had to have surgery at all, so it’s pretty powerful stuff if you can get somebody who knows what they’re doing. I might have Steve Melis on sometime soon.

That was kind of a long update but I just have had a lot of people ask me about it because I think a lot of us have shoulder issues, so I’ll do whatever I can to share with you guys what I know.

I’m just going to get into the interview now. Here is Thomasina Pidgeon. Enjoy.


Neely Quinn: Alright, welcome to the show Thomasina. Thank you very much for being with me today.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Thanks for having me.


Neely Quinn: Yeah. So, for anybody who doesn’t know who Thomasina Pidgeon is, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I’m mostly a boulderer. I started bouldering in 2001. I’m a Canadian, I’m from Canada. I travel a lot so I like to say I’m half American, too, because I spend so much of my time in the States but the passport is Canadian. I’m a mother. That’s it, I guess.


Neely Quinn: That’s it.



Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I don’t know what else to say.


Neely Quinn: Okay, we’ll go from there. You – where do you live right now?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I just got back to Squamish so I’m Squamish-based. I’m living here right now. I’ve been here about a week but it’s where I come back to when I live in Canada, so it’s more my base.


Neely Quinn: And you boulder a lot in Squamish I’m assuming?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, if it’s not raining.


Neely Quinn: How is it in December?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Right now it’s raining but we just had a week of pure sunshine and super dry weather so that was taken advantage of, for sure, by lots of people, but then the rain – now the forecast is just rain until the end of the forecast so yeah, I think it’s pretty wet. I’ve actually never been here past October so it was pretty fun to climb in November with such good conditions. I’ve never felt the rock so sticky so it’s nice.


Neely Quinn: It’s funny because most of the time people go there in, like, August, right?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, yeah. Summer time.


Neely Quinn: It seems like it would be hot for bouldering. So, tell me a little bit about your lifestyle. I’m intrigued, as a person who has also lived out of a van and on the road and all over the place. Can you explain what your year looks like?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I guess I live out of my van full time. The last couple years I’ve been traveling a lot to Europe, so we live in a van over there which is the same van that we have over here. A different van but the same model. I work part time when I’m in Squamish and I had a job when I was in Europe, as well, that was part time.


Neely Quinn: What are your jobs?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Right now I’m coaching gymnastics and sometimes I get writing gigs, so those would be my jobs, and route setting in a gym. That’s what I did in Munich and since then I’ve been doing it here as well.


Neely Quinn: Nice.


Thomasina Pidgeon: I don’t know, I just travel a lot. It’s in my blood. I always like to move and I try to keep – I’ve been back here for about a week and I’m already thinking, ‘Okay, maybe I can go to Bishop now that it’s so close.’ [laughs]


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I understand the feeling. I’m forcing myself to sit down in one place for a year now which is good and bad, but…


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, it’s hard. I think it’s a hard thing to do, especially for me. I mean, I know people that do it but I just/it makes me feel like I have ants in my pants so I like moving.


Neely Quinn: So it’s you and your daughter who live in the van?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yep, Cedar. She’s nine now. She actually likes living in the van, too. When it’s a bit cold we have a little Mr. Heater that our friend Matt gave us, but we’re actually house-sitting for this week so it’s nice where we’re staying with the friend. It’s a bit different to be in a house but usually we live in the van. I really like it. I like how it’s always dark at night time and you can just sleep in darkness. We have candles for light and it’s just really simple and it’s quiet and I just – it’s something that I think I’m going to always want to do. Even if I had a house I think I would just try not to have so much things around that were destructing, I guess.


Neely Quinn: Like lights?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, lights. I don’t like lights so at least have candlelights.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I mean it sounds primitive and nice and simple.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: So your daughter is nine. Does she climb with you?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, she climbs. She doesn’t climb all of the time but she probably climbs 60% of the time. She really likes it, too. I encourage her to climb but if she doesn’t want to climb and she’d rather just read that’s fine as well.


Neely Quinn: I’m assuming you homeschool her?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, we homeschool through a program called Self Design, which is a B.C. run, government-run program that’s funded by the government. It’s a super good program and we work with a teacher once a week and have direction and guidance from her and support. It’s really/it’s actually pretty free so it’s a nice program.


Neely Quinn: That’s cool. I’m not trying to pry into your personal life, I just find it really fascinating how people make this kind of lifestyle work because I think a lot of people sort of dream about being able to live on the road but they have kids or they want to have kids and so this is really interesting.

So you’re mostly bouldering. Are you doing any route climbing?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I set two routes the other day and I tested them, so I guess that’s sort of route climbing but not really. I’m not really a route climber. I started out climbing as a route climber. I wasn’t that addicted to climbing at that point. I was kind of like, ‘Oh yeah, let’s go climbing, we’ll do some routes,’ but when I tried bouldering I kind of just – it turned into something different. It wasn’t so much like a weekend warrior. I was like, ‘Okay, this is – I’m really comfortable bouldering. I don’t/I’m not scared to fall,’ and I just liked the bouldering. I liked how you could try hard moves and not really be limited by the fear of falling, which I think is something that I had when I was roped climbing.


Neely Quinn: Alright, so you started bouldering when it was 2001 you said, right?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: So you’ve been doing this for 14 years. Is that about how long you’ve been on the road, too?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I would say – well, yeah. I think when I started bouldering, well – I always traveled before that, too, even if I wasn’t climbing and I’ve always lived in my van since I was actually 19 but yeah, climbing or not climbing I lived in the van. In 2001 I started going to the States a lot and I think I made one trip to Europe in 2002 but then it was mostly just the States for…


Neely Quinn: Can I ask how old you are now?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, [laughs] I’m 40, which seems like a really big number but the only difference I can really feel is I have to climb less or I have to train smarter and I don’t recover as quickly, which is a bummer but, yeah. Mentally I think, ‘Oh my god! 40!’ and it makes me kind of freak out a little bit but you know, there’s Robyn and there’s Lynn and there are so many strong climbers around here that are older than me, so I mean it’s not really an age-specific sport, which is awesome.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m 37 and all my friends are like 25 so I always feel old, but we’re not old.

Tell me a little bit about your climbing, like, what are some of your climbing highlights?


Thomasina Pidgeon: You mean the accomplishments or the traveling?


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I would say the accomplishments or just things that stick out in your mind as big moments for you.


Thomasina Pidgeon: I don’t know if I have any – I think things, if I think back to climbing, I think things that stick out most is just the traveling and seeing so many new places and so many new rocks and meeting so many people seeing, also, how small the climbing community is. I mean, I’m in Europe and I meet someone in Magic Wood in the smallest little campground, and I meet someone that I met 10 years ago in Bishop, California, you know? It’s like – that kind of stuff is just like, ‘Oh wow!’ It’s kind of insane to me and it’s amazing how it connects people together. I think that’s probably one of the coolest things about climbing that I’ve discovered that I enjoy.

I mean obviously there’s the physical, like if you do a hard problem that you’ve worked hard on or that you thought was impossible, that’s also rewarding. I think the rewarding part is also just – okay, I’ll look at a problem and be like, ‘This is just possible.’ Or maybe you try another one and it’s impossible but then you figure it out, you figure out your beta and you end up, ‘Oh yeah, it’s possible,’ and then you do it. I think that also is pretty cool because you overcome something that you didn’t think you could do.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, and so you have done quite a few what other people would consider hard boulder problems. Do you want to talk about some of those?


Thomasina Pidgeon: [laughs]


Neely Quinn: You’re like my husband and some of the other people who I’ve interviewed. Like, I want to get your accomplishments out of you but it seems like you’re a very humble person. It’s okay. [laughs] I’ll just ask you some direct questions, then. How hard have you climbed?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I guess I’ve done multiple V12’s and a lot of V11’s and everything underneath.


Neely Quinn: Do you want to name a few that were maybe some of your favorites?


Thomasina Pidgeon: [laughs] I guess in Squamish, there’s one here called The Summoning. It’s a super, really cool compression problem, kind of burly. It’s more like a guy problem but I really enjoyed that one. It was a long time ago that I did this, maybe four years ago? In Hueco there’s a lot of good problems that I did. I guess in Yosemite it was Thriller. It’s a V10 but it’s so beautiful, it’s so beautiful, this line, and it’s a classic, of course.


Neely Quinn: Would you say that you have a type? Do you like the burlier, kind of compression problems or…?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I like compression problems but no, I like everything. I really like roof climbing, I guess, and I guess the compression problems and the pinching problems I’m not super good at but I really like trying them. I like trying them and I like how they make you feel powerful and strong when you do them, but it’s not necessarily my strength. I guess I don’t really like the crimpy problems but I’m pretty good at them so I try to do – I try to do as many problems as I can. Whatever I see I’m like, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do this.’ I don’t care if it’s ugly or pretty, I’m just going to try it anyway. I’m not like – you know, some people won’t try certain lines unless it’s beautiful but I try everything, even the ugly things.


Neely Quinn: Alright, cool, and you have also competed.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yep.


Neely Quinn: Do you want to talk about that a little bit?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I guess in 2012 I was bouldering around and I kind of felt stagnant in my climbing. I didn’t feel so motivated anymore so I was like, ‘Okay, I need to do something different.’ I went to the Red River Gorge and I climbed routes for three weeks, which is actually really fun. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I can come back here and climb routes,’ because it’s just so fun there. I just love Miguel, I love the environment, I love the forest, and it was really fun climbing there.

After that, of course, they got really rainy so I didn’t know what else to do so I decided to go up to Ontario, of all places, in the middle of winter. I did a comp and when I did that comp I realized afterwards, I was like, ‘Oh wow. There’s a lot of things in my climbing that I’m not very good at, besides the mental stuff. You know comp climbers, they really have to try to focus on flashing things. That was the last thing on my mind. I’m like, ‘Flashing? Oh yeah, okay. Let’s try to do this first try,’ but it kind of wasn’t engrained in my being. I just was like, ‘Okay, let’s try this problem.’ Besides that the movement, like a lot of dynamic movements and indoor climbing, obviously, I’m not super good at those so – climbing under stress. There’s just a lot of stuff that it pointed out to me that I wasn’t good at so I was like, ‘Okay, let’s work on that. That’s a new challenge.’ That’s kind of why I started competing.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, and then where did that take you? Have you done a lot of competitions?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, since then I kind of changed my focus to comps. I still climb outside a lot but I changed my focus to comps and I’ve been competing in the World Cups for Canada, which isn’t actually such a big deal. If I was in Slovenia and I was on the Slovenian climbing team I’d be proud to say, “Yeah, I’m on,” but to be on the Canadian climbing team I think it’s a little bit easier.

It’s pretty interesting. It’s a super different environment than being in Hueco and sessioning a problem with your friends versus being in a competition and having five minutes to do a problem and having a lot of lights around you and noise and music and people staring at you. It’s a completely different environment but it’s actually, like, you can learn a lot putting yourself in this situation, I think, even if it’s highly stressful or awkward.


Neely Quinn: Would you say that you like competing more now than climbing outside?


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, I definitely prefer climbing outside but I feel like I’ve learned so much from competing that I’m not really ready to stop doing it yet. I think this year will probably be my last year, just because of recovery and age and injuries and stuff. Also, it’s super expensive to compete but yeah, I think I have another year of learning going on for this competition stuff, so…


Neely Quinn: It’s cool that you look at it as a learning experience.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I look at it like that but also, at the same time, if I have a bad comp then it’s super hard to stay open to learning what it was I was to learn. It always takes me a couple days of, ‘Uh, okay. I failed really bad. Okay, what did I learn?’ That always takes me a couple of days to get over the initial failure and, ‘Ah man. That’s shit. That’s horrible.’ Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that word [laughs] but yeah…


Neely Quinn: I mean, that seems like a very human thing to have happen.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, and it’s funny how human – the more I talk to other competitors or even, I’ve been talking to a gymnastics coach here who is an Olympic level gymnastics coach. He’s been kind of helping, giving me some advice, and it’s amazing how – I think it’s just a general sports thing or maybe just general failing. People don’t like to fail and if they fail, it almost reflects their reflection on themselves and their self worth. I think this is a huge thing to work on for anybody, really. We’re more than our climbing but at the same time I think everyone’s a little bit attached to stuff that they did or they want to do, be it climbing or at school or any kind of accomplishments.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I think that is definitely one of the biggest lessons for climbers, and part of the reason we continue to do it is so that we can – I don’t know, for me at least – better myself.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, and I think the hardest thing to overcome is ourself. I mean, that’s the whole point. That’s kind of why I do it but I’m pretty hard to overcome, I think. [laughs]


Neely Quinn: So, tell me about your competitions. What kind of successes have you recently had, or failures?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I guess, I mean the failures – it’s always like, when I approach a problem and I look at it and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a huge move. I can’t do that,’ and I immediately doubt myself. Then of course I get on it and my effort is less because I don’t think that I can do it. Then, there would be another comp and I’ll go and be like, ‘Okay, just try to make this comp your focus is on just your breath, so just focus on your breath the whole time.’ That comp was actually a pretty good one because I just felt a lot more relaxed and more, kind of, flowing and into the climbing. Of course, the higher I get on a problem that voice comes back and says, “Oh man, that problem’s too hard. You can’t do that,” or “That’s too far,” and I end up hesitating a lot.

I think there’s success and failure that can be at the same time and on the same problem, you know?


Neely Quinn: Yeah, for sure. Actually, I had a couple questions cause you had said, “That move’s too big for me,” I was trying to imagine how tall you are and what your wingspan is.


Thomasina Pidgeon: I’m 5’ 1¾” which is 156 centimeters. I know centimeters now after being in Europe. My wingspan is +1 inch so 158 centimeters or something like this.


Neely Quinn: So you’re small.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I’m normally one of the smallest people in the comps, which is also hard because I think, in gym climbing, even if you’re an inch or two taller I feel like you can just reach that hold that much easier, but I don’t want to use height as an excuse, either, because I could always become more dynamic and more powerful. There’s Jain Kim who’s shorter than me. I think she’s 4’11” and she’s one of the most beautiful climbers, and strong, and dynamic, and… yeah.


Neely Quinn: I think we have a mutual friend, Shannon Foresman, who’s also super strong and I think she and I, and I’m 5’, we have the same wingspan.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Oh cool.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, she’s incredible, too.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, she’s a good climber.


Neely Quinn: So, with your – let’s talk about your training since this is a training podcast. I feel like I could talk to you about some other things, too, but tell me about your training for climbing outside and then as opposed to training for competitions.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so I guess before the comps I didn’t really train too much. I actually would think about training but I didn’t know, ever, what to do. I mostly just climbed outside. Like, if it was raining we’d go to the gym and climb and maybe do some campusing but that was/there was no routine to it. It wasn’t like a weekly thing or biweekly thing, it was just: if it’s raining, let’s go inside. I guess my training would have been just going to new areas and climbing a lot and climbing as many problems as I could and just trying everything.


Neely Quinn: What is a lot to you? I mean, you’ve been on the road for a long time so you’ve obviously been to places where you have access to, but how many days a week and for how long?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I think, back then, I think I normally did one day one, one day off, from my memory. I don’t think I ever did two days on because of skin and my shoulders are not the strongest shoulders so if I climb too much they tend to get tweaky, so I have to be really careful. I think if I’m in the area for the first time then I’ll try two days on and rest and just do easier stuff but yeah, I’m like the type of person that I’ll just try – like, I’ll walk in and let’s try this, this, and this. I mean, I have some/I won’t try certain things but most of the things.

Like, in Magic Wood for example, I’ve spent a lot of time there recently in the last couple of years and there’s the tiniest things in the hole – you’ll just crawl into a hole and it’s maybe a little bit taller than me and I’ll still climb it, just because I think every problem, no matter if it’s hard or easy, it’ll have some kind of – it’s going to be different. It’s going to be new movement that you’ve probably never tried before and I think just by trying these things you’re going to become a better. It’s also just going to be cool to feel a new movement, yeah.


Neely Quinn: It sounds like you really, really love climbing for the sake of climbing.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I do, and I think that I have to – it’s funny, because when you talk about the failures thing, I personally get, and people know this about me, that when I fail, either if it’s outside or inside, I’m really hard on myself. I think I have to remember, ‘Yeah, okay, but you just love climbing anyways so just forget about it and focus on the climbing.’ I do. I just really like the movement.


Neely Quinn: Okay, let’s go back to training. What you used to do was climb a lot outside and then sometimes you’d go inside, so what do you do now?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Now I’m actually working – well, when I first started competing and I started I was like, ‘Oh yeah. I can figure this training thing out by myself.’ I would go in and I would just campus and I would do a mock comp and I would do rings, I would do a crazy amount of stuff, like four hours of a crazy amount of stuff, and the next day I would be so broken and my shoulders would hurt. I was like, ‘Okay. I can’t do this.’

Then, I started writing my friend Justin Wood for some advice because I knew he knew a lot about training. He told me some stuff and eventually he was like, ‘You should just talk to Steve Maisch,’ so I’ve been working with Steve Maisch quite a bit the last two years. He gave me a program and then we basically try to figure out what works for me. I’m still not really sure what works for me because, again, my shoulders. If I do too much I’m broken again so I have to be really careful.

For this round, I’m going to start training either in January/at the beginning of January I’m going to start training again. We have one day where I’ll focus on power. I’ll warm up to doing some hard moves then I’ll campus for about 45 minutes and then do other stuff like rings, and handstands, and then I decided to throw in some cardio stuff, actually, because I listened to the Isabelle Faus podcast you had on. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea! Twenty minutes of cardio,’ because I hate cardio. I hate running. I hate anything that’s going to make me sweat. I’d rather do weighted pull-ups than run or skip rope. I have a star by the cardio, like: you have to do this cardio stuff.


Neely Quinn: What does Steve Maisch say about that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: He said, “Oh, that’s a really good idea. You should do that for sure. That’s a really good idea.” I think the only thing is now I just have to do it. If it’s written down I’ll do it but if it’s in my head I won’t do it.


Neely Quinn: Really? Where is it written down? In this special place?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I have it written down on a piece of paper.


Neely Quinn: [laughs] So if I just write it down on a piece of paper that’s all it takes?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s written down in my training program which is actually online but originally I had it down on a piece of paper.


Neely Quinn: Well tomorrow you should write down, “Climb V15,” somewhere.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah. [laughs]


Neely Quinn: So, you said you’d do one day focusing on power where you’re campusing and doing rings and handstands, and then what else will you do?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Warm-up to doing some hard moves on a bouldering wall? Then the next day – this is actually just what he laid out for me, so it’s kind of taken from other programs that we made up that I’d taken some stuff from that I didn’t feel was helpful and then added stuff that I thought was helpful. Then the next day would be strength, so we do weighted dead hangs with my fingers at a 90० angle. I think that’s really important to keep your fingers at this angle.


Neely Quinn: What do you mean, “At a 90० angle?” Can you explain that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so your fingers would just be at 90०, like when you’re hanging from the edge, instead of just hanging in an open hang or instead of crimping. It’s kind of the in-between between crimping and an open hang.


Neely Quinn: Okay, alright.


Thomasina Pidgeon: It’s pretty hard to hold this position but I think, well what Steve says, is it’s the most powerful position to hold your hand in and so when you’re climbing, if you grab a hold you tend to grab it closed but if it’s so bad you kind of need to pull it closed so you need to have the power to do that, to close it into a crimp. I think if you train your fingers at 90० it will achieve this.


Neely Quinn: Okay.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Does that make sense?


Neely Quinn: Yeah. Weighted dead hangs and then what else?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Weighted pinch blocks, so I’ll have a pinch block which is pretty wide. I have pretty small hands so pinches are pretty hard for me, especially if the pinch is that I can’t get my thumb around. I have a wooden pinch block that I made so just hang weight off of that. It’s a set weight, like I figured out what the max weight that I could pinch hang and then workouts are a percentage of that weight. I think it’s like 60, 70, and 80, or something like this. It’s a 5-3-1, like the normal 5-3-1 weighted thing that weightlifters do.


Neely Quinn: What? Like, five reps, three reps, then one rep?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so five reps of a lower weight, then three reps of a higher weight and one rep of your max weight.


Neely Quinn: Okay, got it.


Thomasina Pidgeon: With a three minute rest in between each go.


Neely Quinn: You’re just taking these pinch blocks, hanging weight off of them, and at your sides while you’re standing up? You’re just holding them?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: For how long?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I think it’s a repeater so I think it’s 7-seconds with 3-seconds rest, 7-seconds, 3-seconds rest. I think that’s what I do and then I have three minutes of rest and then I change the weight to a heavier weight. Then the last one, the 1 of the 5-3-1, is 10 seconds.


Neely Quinn: Okay, got it.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Maybe it’s actually 10 seconds and maybe it’s a 10-second hang. I’m sorry.


Neely Quinn: So 10-seconds, 3-seconds off?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah. 10-seconds hang, 3-seconds off, I think.


Neely Quinn: So the main point of this is just to train your pinch strength.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: So you’re doing dead hangs, pinch blocks, and then what?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Then we were doing weighted pull-ups so the same idea, 5-3-1 of a lower weight going up to your max weighted pull-ups, but I don’t know if these are good for me or not. I feel like they might have hurt my shoulders when I did them or it might have been just me overtraining, which totally makes sense. I overtrain quite a bit, which is a bad idea, but I don’t know. I kind of have a question mark beside those. I don’t know for sure if I’m going to do them so if I don’t do those then I’m going to do offset pull-ups on the campus board. Basically, you’re on campus rung one and say, five or six, and you just try and do a pull-up and do three of those on each side. It sounds pretty easy to just do three but I think I do two sets like that and when I’m done I’m like, ‘Okay, I don’t feel super tired but I don’t feel like I did nothing, either.’ They’re kind of hard, I think.


Neely Quinn: So why would that take the place of weighted pull-ups? How are those that <unclear>?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I don’t know. I think Steve knows the answer to that. [laughs] I actually asked him why do that instead of weighted pull-ups and I think his idea was that you’re just kind of more isolating one arm so you’re kind of more getting used to doing. It’s almost like doing a one-arm assisted, which would be kind of like pulling up weight, sort of, since your one arm is not having the help of the other arm.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, that totally makes sense.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so we’ll see.


Neely Quinn: Is there anything else?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, one of the concerns that I had before, because we had a lot of strength training stuff and I felt like I was kind of going/I felt like I wasn’t sure if it was benefiting me or not. The other thing is, in the competitions, I usually get shut down on a movement and climbing is so movement. Climbing is a movement sport so we added in more climbing stuff.

Another day I’ll do – warm-up to some hard moves and then I’ll do – these things called Ondra Intervals, which is after Adam Ondra. Basically, I make up a problem that is about 15 moves long and I do it, then I rest one minute, then I do it again, rest a minute, do it again, rest a minute, and do it again. I do it four times and then I rest five minutes between that and make up another one in that five minutes. I do those, like, four or five times and it takes about an hour. It’s actually really hard. I try to make the problem so that it’s not super easy but also not too hard. If it’s too hard I’ll change the holds so that I make sure I can do it and probably failing on the fourth go, you know?

Those, I found, I did those last year and I found them super helpful just for overall fitness, for power endurance, and they make you feel good because you feel like – it’s like you’re going for a run but you’re on a climbing wall so it’s even better.


Neely Quinn: Yeah. You’re probably sweating. You probably don’t really like them.


Thomasina Pidgeon: They’re hard, yeah. The first time I did them I was like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t like these. These are super hard,’ but I felt the benefits so quickly that I kept doing them.


Neely Quinn: Tell me about feeling the benefit. How did you feel it?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I just felt fitter. I just felt as if I’d gone route climbing but it was bouldering so it was, like – I don’t know. I just felt like I had more stamina.


Neely Quinn: So on boulder problems you would try, during that week or the next week, you would just feel that you had power to spare?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah. I felt like I wasn’t as pumped. Yeah, I felt like I had power to spare.


Neely Quinn: Cool. That sounds a lot like what Alex Barrows has done and I think what Will Anglin was talking about, those intervals seem to be a pretty popular thing now.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: Cool, so movement, warm-up – actually, I’m wondering what you meant by that. So you said that you get shut down in comps by movement. Like what?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Well, if there’s – definitely dynos for sure. I get shut down on those if there’s kind of a complicated move. There’s a lot of – not at every comp, thank god, but there’s some comps that they have these run and jumps where you have to do some kind of foot coordination and run to a hold. These kind of things I don’t find natural at all. I find them super hard. Like, I set one the other day at Ground Up, the new gym in Squamish, and I couldn’t do it. It’s supposed to be V3. Everyone else did it but me. I’m like, ‘Ah, there’s a reason I set these things, you know?’ That kind of stuff I find really hard.

If it’s a jump, like it’s just a long move – for example, in Vail, there’s this problem, and my shoulder was really bad at that point, but I think it was two bad kind of underclings and you had to jump to this pinch. I was super hopeless at that. There’s no chance, there’s no way I was going to do that problem. That kind of stuff, I’m not very good at so for that reason there’s another day of training that we have in there. It’s kind of a short session but it’s focused on drills and focusing on climbing movement and weaknesses, so I would just go into the gym and practice pogos, one-leg bouldering, one-arm traversing, which was actually good for me because when I first started doing it I was like, ‘Oh god, I’m really slow at grabbing the holds.’ After a while I got faster, like my reflexes were faster, which is good for these kinds of dynos and big jumps where you just have to grab the holds. I guess that’s contact strength. Those are really helpful for me.


Neely Quinn: Did you also practice dynos?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Well, I try to practice them but usually I have two or three goes before I have to stop because they hurt my shoulders a lot. I tried yesterday, some dynos, and I had to stop because I just feel like either I’m not jumping high enough so I’m not grabbing the holds with my arms bent. I tend to grab the hold with my arms straight, which is a bad position to grab the hold in because you’re just going to pull your shoulders out of socket, which is exactly what happens to me. I don’t use my legs enough.

I think dynoing is so much leg coordination and I just – for me, mentally it’s hard. I can visualize what I’m supposed to do but to actually do it – I don’t know. Yeah, I need to practice it more but I don’t like practicing them. That’s the thing, and they hurt my shoulders so it’s kind of like, for me, it’s kind of like it’s not on my priority list, even though it’s kind of an important movement if you want to compete, but I’m kind of…


Neely Quinn: Would you say that you get shut down mostly by dynos in comps?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I always get shut down by dynos in comps, except for one. [laughs] I went to a comp in Germany and they had this finals. There was a dyno but it wasn’t so big. It was just awkward, which was really cool. It was from volumes to a volume and I did it and I was so psyched that I did it, so yeah. I mean, I can dyno but it just, if it’s really far the distance thing is an issue for me.


Neely Quinn: Yeah. Alas, to be a short person.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yep.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so you do power days, strength days, movement days, and anything else?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so there’s another day in there called – which I would just go to a real gym. I’m saying a real gym because most of the time, especially in Squamish, I train at/we have a co-op. The Squamish Bouldering Co-op, which is just basically three walls that are littered with holds. It’s an awesome gym. I would go to, say a gym – there’s a new gym opening up in Squamish which is really good, so I’ll go there or go to a gym in Vancouver and just focus on onsighting things. This would kind of be more like the competition preparation, where I’m just going to go for, say, two hours and just try to climb and onsight as many problems as I can. That’s also for the mental side, because comps and onsighting things is so important. There, doing things the first or second go is really important so for me, this is good.

I climbed outside for so long I kind of have this attitude of, ‘Oh, okay. I’ll do it eventually,’ but in comps you don’t really have this time to do that, so it kind of helps in starting the fighting process, you know? You see some people climb and they’re just fighting their way up the wall and that’s something I need to work on.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s a total change of mindset.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, just fighting. Get to the top and don’t let go.


Neely Quinn: So, on those days you would go in for two hours and you would pick some problems that you know are at or near your onsight limit. You would try it once and if you would fail you would try it a second time and then would you move on?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I think I would try it – it depends on how strict I’m being. If I’m being really strict I’ll just try it once and move on. It also depends on how big the gym is, too. If there’s not a lot of problems I’ll try it again. If it’s a bigger gym then I might just skip it and move on. I think doing that actually helps because we did this with – in Germany, we went to this training day before the Munich World Cup with the German world team and the Japanese team. They had set some problems and one of the drills that we did was he set these problems and we had one try and one try only and so, obviously, you’re going to make this try/you’re going to try as hard as you can so that it’s worth your effort. I found that really helpful, to summon your focus and your try hard and also just to have that mentality of, like, trying to work out a problem while staying on the wall. It’s kind of – I think from going from outside to inside, this is a big difference.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s totally different. It’s like a different sport.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, yeah, it’s a different sport. It’s even like the movements are different.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so that’s four days. Is that basically your week?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, and Steve, because I would write him and be like, ‘Oh, you know my shoulder kind of hurts,’ he would be like, ‘Okay, well don’t do this.’ He’s all about/he’s like, ‘Okay, I don’t mean to offend you or anything but you’re a bit older.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ Obviously, we recover a bit slower as we get older, which is something the last year, especially, that I’ve been trying to get over. Like, ‘Okay, really, you can.’

I talked to Robyn, actually, Robyn Erbesfield, and she said, “You can definitely climb harder when you’re older but you just have to train smarter.” With Steve and her I was kind of like, ‘Okay.’ So we have four days a week or three days. Steve has a lot of rest days in my training program. The last one he made there was basically two rest days every week and I kind of/when I first saw it, I was like, ‘Oh my god. That’s a lot of rest. I don’t know if I can do that,’ but when I actually did the workouts that he had made for me I needed those, I needed that rest because they were hard.


Neely Quinn: Yeah. [laughs]


Thomasina Pidgeon: I don’t know. I guess if you rest you can do other things. [laughs]


Neely Quinn: Are you the kind of person where if you have a rest day you just don’t know what to do with yourself?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Sort of, yeah, kind of, but I’m getting used to it. I kind of discovered that there are other things. Cedar really likes swimming so we’ll go to the swimming pool. I don’t like swimming so I kind of don’t like going to the swimming pool but you know, we’ll do that, yeah. We’ll do other things, like reading. [laughs] I always had this idea in my head that I would start hiking more but I haven’t done that yet because it’s the cardio thing, but I think if I did this it would be awesome for me so I will start doing this. I’m just going to write it down on my paper and it’ll be good.


Neely Quinn: So, when do you think you would put that into your week?


Thomasina Pidgeon: The hiking and cardio stuff?


Neely Quinn: Yeah.


Thomasina Pidgeon: I think just on a rest day.


Neely Quinn: Oh, on a rest day?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: What do you think Steve Maisch would say about that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I think he would say it’s good because it’s not climbing.


Neely Quinn: I wonder if Steve Maisch will listen to this and he’ll be like, ‘Well this is what I would say about it.’ [laughs]


Thomasina Pidgeon: He would probably say, “Don’t go too long.” Actually, I talked/I asked about running, because I know a lot of climbers run now and yeah – I think 20 minutes would be good if I did run but I don’t think – yeah, he just said, “Don’t go for an all day event. Just keep it short.” That would probably be equivalent to hiking up The Chief.


Neely Quinn: Yeah.


Thomasina Pidgeon: I definitely need to do something like this. I feel like when I go hiking – like, when you go – I was in Colorado a few years ago and I was just amazed at how fit everybody is just walking up to even Lower Chaos. It took me awhile to get used to walking up there so I think it’s definitely something that I could work on, especially in Squamish. The boulders are: you get out of your car and you walk five minutes and you’re there. I think it’s really easy to get out of shape.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, I know. I agree. Okay, so weightlifting. I didn’t hear any in there. Are you not doing any?


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, except for the weighted dead hangs where I have weight off a harness and the weighted pull-ups, I don’t do any weightlifting.


Neely Quinn: And Steve Maisch is not, like, pushing you to do anything?


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, he’s not making me do it, no. I think he said something once about doing – I don’t even know what they’re called but you have a weight at the floor and you lift it up above your head? I think he mentioned that those would be beneficial but I don’t have access to/I don’t think I would pay money to go to a weightlifting gym. It’s not really an option for me and we don’t have one of these apparatuses at the co-op.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so you said you would start this in January, right?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I’m going to start in January.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so how long would you do this for? What’s the cycle like?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Basically it’s broken down into easy, medium, and hard weeks. It’s a four-week cycle, or three-week cycle. It’s a four-week cycle and basically I’m just going to kind of keep repeating it and adjusting the weights as the time goes on, but yeah – that’s another thing that’s different from what I did before. I mean, I would just try to go hard, hard, hard all the time and I think that just is going to break/it just broke me. My body was hurting so bad it took a long time to get out of that hole that I had dug myself.

You know, if you overtrain you’re basically digging yourself into a hole and it’s harder to get out of the hole the more you do it. That’s a hard lesson to learn but I think it’s also, like, I think it’s a repeat lesson. You have to keep reminding yourself, ‘Okay, this is too much. This is too much,’ so that’s why it’s good to have Steve guiding me, because otherwise I would have hard-hard-hard-medium-hard-hard-hard. I would try to do too much and I would just end up on the floor, I think, so it’s one week is hard, which has I think four or five climbing days a week and there’s some double sessions in there where I would mix up say, the drills. I would go in and do the drills and maybe the weighted dead hangs and the weighted pull-ups and then go back in the evening and do something different. The easy weeks basically have – some of them/most of them, I think, are three days of climbing so there’s four days of rest in there.


Neely Quinn: Okay, and it’s not like you’re on this four-week cycle and the first week is easy, the next week is medium, the third week is hard. It’s just kind of mixed up all over the place?


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, I think it goes hard, medium, I don’t know what – yeah, it’ll be like easy-medium-hard, easy-medium-hard. It’s pretty/they’re not mixed up.


Neely Quinn: Okay.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah.


Neely Quinn: And then after the four weeks, well, I should just say: what are you training for?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Well…


Neely Quinn: Is it a certain comp?


Thomasina Pidgeon: So, I guess this year I kind of changed because in the comps, I don’t do so well in the competitions. I find that I want to do better but at the same time I sacrifice a lot of time outside to prepare for the comps. I decided this year, for my sanity and also for my motivation, I’m just going to go to the comps and not make them my priority anymore.

I’m training to be fit for the comps but to be strong for outside. There’s a comp, I think the Canadian Nationals, at the end of February so I kind of want to be ready for this one but at the same time, I go to Bishop or somewhere or when it gets good here again I want to be ready for that. Actually, I want to go to South Africa in the summer. That’s my goal, is South Africa. I’ve never been there and I’ve always wanted to go so I want to be strong for South Africa. I guess, in the long term, that’s my goal and also to be prepared for the comps but also strong for outside.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so you have a comp at the end of February. You’ll do maybe a cycle or two before that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, two cycles for sure.


Neely Quinn: And then after that, while you’re climbing outside and while you’re in South Africa, or right before that, will you do another four-week cycle here and there throughout the year?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, so after the Nationals I’ll probably do it again. Actually, it’ll be March so it’ll probably be good in Squamish so I might just kind of focus on Squamish and then do another one after that. There’s a World Cup in April in Europe that I would like to go to but I would have to make the team, so we’ll see how that goes, but yeah – I’ll just do the four-week cycles before the comps and, yeah. I’ll keep doing it, yeah.


Neely Quinn: Do you have rest weeks, ever?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I have – actually last – Steve really pushed this, actually, and I’ve never done it before except for when I was pregnant. Obviously, there’s a lot of rest. He was like, ‘Just take December off.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re crazy. There’s no way. What if I just went route climbing? Wouldn’t that be okay?’ He was like, ‘No, you just need to stop climbing. Just rest.’

Last year I was pretty/my shoulders were just broken. I was like, ‘Okay. I’m just going to leave here and I’m going to go to Spain and sport climb,’ because you know, sport climbing is easier on your body. At least, I’ve never tried anything harder than .13b so for me, it seems easier on your body but I guess if you get harder routes it’s going to get harder, but anyway, I decided to go so Spain. It was funny. The first day I got there it was super sunny and it was dry, it was so nice. I just rested. I just decided to rest for three weeks and I was like, ‘Oh my god! I’m finally in the sunshine and it’s finally dry,’ because it was really wet everywhere else in Switzerland and Germany. I finally got to the perfect weather and I was resting. [laughs] It was really strange but after this rest I felt so good. I felt so good after that. I felt like a new person, like there was no more aches, no more pains, and I felt more powerful. My mind was clearer, everything was better.


Neely Quinn: Did you get to climb after that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I went to Albarracin for, I think it was like a week or a week and a half and then I flew home.


Neely Quinn: Okay, so I want to talk to you – we have/I know that you have to go and I actually have to get going. I want to talk for about 10 more minutes but I have a couple questions that I want to get to. First of all, you work part time but are you sponsored as well?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I’m sponsored by Metolius, so I get gear, and I get shoes from La Sportiva, but they’re just gear sponsors. There’s no money.


Neely Quinn: Okay. So you just kind of make it work however you can, by working part time?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I mean I work part time but I have a lot of debt. That’s one of the reasons that I came home, was I was like, ‘Okay, I need to work. I have so much debt from the comps and from being in Europe and stuff.’ Even though I stayed still a lot so it was a lot cheaper, I owe a lot of money so I need to work. It kind of works but at the same time, it’s not working right now so I have to find a more sustainable way.


Neely Quinn: Right. Then, as a part of the Canadian team they don’t give you any money or pay for your comps?


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, we actually pay $100 to be on the team, or to be in the organization. We have to pay everything. We pay for our uniforms, we pay for our way there, we do everything ourselves. The only thing they do pay is the 40 Euro fee to enter each IFSC World Cup, which I guess it helps, but yeah.


Neely Quinn: That sucks. Ah man, it’s so disappointing to hear about that.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, but to be honest, I guess it would be really helpful if they helped more, especially since we give them $100. If you only enter one IFSC comp a year, that’s 40 Euros so you’re basically still paying for that because it’s coming out of the $100 but, I mean – if you look at the Slovenian team, they have so much support. Yeah, I think it actually would make a difference so it would be good if there was more support, for sure, but we also don’t have the results except for Sean McColl. He’s the only one that has good results, you know? And Jason Hall, which does pretty well.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, well maybe there would be the results if there was the money, so…


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, maybe. I mean, I know I’ve definitely shown up at some comps and desperately got there somehow and showed up and had so much stress, financially, of how I was going to handle everything and I think without this ball of stress over my head it would have helped, just to feel more relaxed and a bit lighter. Yeah, you’re right. It would have helped. It would help. [laughs]


Neely Quinn: Okay, and then I want to talk about diet a little bit. Can you tell me your thoughts on diet, food in general, and how your diet, in particular, affects your climbing?


Thomasina Pidgeon: This is interesting, I think, because I listened to a podcast called Sports Coach by Glenn Whitney, which is an amazing podcast to listen to, but he interviews a lot of people about different topics. Coaches, nutritionists, and there’s this one that I listened to where he interviewed this South African doctor and he talked about diet and the diet that he mentioned just seemed so natural and so good that I decided to try it. I don’t try diets, like I eat really healthy, I eat a lot of vegetables and I think my only weakness is sugar. I love candy. Candy is like a piece of heaven, you know?

This diet was high fat, medium protein, and low carb. It’s not, I guess I don’t know if it’s a Paleo diet or not. I don’t really know what the Paleo diet is. I mean, I know what it is generally but I don’t know what their percentage is on fat, so basically I started eating a lot more fats like avocados and nuts and cut down on the carbs quite a bit, and a lot more vegetables and fruit, and no processed food, no sugar, dairy is okay, meat is okay as long as it is organic or some kind of ethical meat, and I felt so good on this diet. It was insane.

I would have, like, an avocado for breakfast and an egg and some fruit, and I didn’t get hungry until about 2:00 in the afternoon, and my energy was a lot more sustained, a lot more stable. Before, even now – I don’t do this diet now but I will go back to it as soon as I get rid of all my candy stashes, but it was insane how good I felt. I also felt really clear in my head, like I didn’t feel so muddy. I tend to get sad. I mean, I think a lot of people get sad but I think my sadness is also related to my sugar intake in my diet. The guy in this podcast, he said that the carbohydrates just affects your brain and it affects your serotonin levels. Since serotonin is 90% produced in the gut, if you have an unhealthy gut you’re going to have an unhealthy mind. I thought that made sense so I tried it and it was true. My mind felt a lot clearer. There was a lot more – everything felt good.


Neely Quinn: That sounds awesome. Can you tell me more about what you were eating? So, your breakfast was a whole avocado and an egg?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, it would be an avocado, eggs, I definitely eat a lot of butter, I would eat a lot of nuts, and for lunch I would have maybe some fish and some vegetables, and more fat so maybe another avocado or nuts instead. I know cooking in butter is not the best thing but I think at low heat, it’s maybe okay? I’m not sure.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, it’s fine.


Thomasina Pidgeon: It’s fine? So, I would definitely cook with a lot of butter.


Neely Quinn: Like, what do you mean by a lot? Some people think that a teaspoon is a lot.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Oh, no. Maybe a couple of tablespoons. I go through butter a lot. I was buying, I think, a thing of butter maybe every four or five days, which I guess is a lot. I don’t know.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a lot or not, it’s just what you were eating so you would cook the eggs in butter? And the fish and the veggies?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, we cook most things in butter or coconut oil, but the eggs, actually, I always hard boil my eggs. I read once that a broken egg is deoxygenated, which is bad for your cholesterol levels, but if you keep it intact it’s better for you. I don’t know if this is – I mean, it made sense and it’s from a good resource. I was like, ‘Okay.’ I also noticed that when I eat fried eggs I don’t feel as good as versus when I eat hard boiled eggs, so I kind of go by feel, too.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, and then you would have – what would be your snack?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Fruit, nuts, [laughs] I don’t know. I guess I just always have a lot of snacks but I can’t think of – leftovers?


Neely Quinn: What about dinners?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Leftovers. For the carb, instead of having rice or instead of having pasta, we would have sweet potato or potatoes, something that grows from the Earth instead of something that’s made in a factory.


Neely Quinn: Okay.


Thomasina Pidgeon: It felt good. It was amazing.


Neely Quinn: And what dinners?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I think it’s also – dinners would be tons of vegetables, like insane amounts of vegetables, maybe a piece of meat, not all the time but yeah, and that was it, actually. Instead of having a rice or a carbohydrate dish you would have a natural carbohydrate, so a potato or a sweet potato or a yam, something like that. It was amazing. I was always full. I never felt hungry. It was really sustaining, like, I felt so level in my energy that it just felt good.

I think, also, this diet would be a lot better/I think it would be good if everyone kind of had this diet because it would not only be good for them, but it’s also pretty good for the Earth. There’s going to be less production of a lot of things like a lot less wheat fields, a lot less – the meat that you eat would be a local meat. I just feel like it would be good.


Neely Quinn: What you’re describing is basically Paleo, but it’s more like Primal because you were eating a lot of butter, but yeah, it sounds awesome. The one thing would be that when people do a lot of aerobic activity on this kind of diet, they’re not getting enough carbs so it can be hard on those people who are walking into the park all the time or doing a bunch of hiking. You might find that, and maybe not, it really depends on the person but for what you were doing, basically being a power athlete, it sounds like it is perfect.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I think his premise for the energy is that the more fat you eat, your body kind of – not so that you become into a ketosis state but almost beforehand, but if you eat enough fat your body learns to burn fat and not carbohydrate, it’s better for you overall. Like, for stability, for level of energy, like a straight level of energy.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, totally, and I completely agree with that. It’s just there’s a certain point, it seems, at which athletes can do really well without having to supplement with some sort of carb in there, but it sounds like it worked perfectly for you and, yeah – you think you would go back to that?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah. I eat basically like that now, the only problem is with the candy/the candy intake. I mean the sugar. I’m a sugar addict.


Neely Quinn: Do you notice it in your mood and stuff?


Thomasina Pidgeon: For sugar? Yeah. Yesterday I was coaching and I had to stop. I would stand up and I would get light-headed and I was like, ‘Oh man.’ That, for me, is a sign that I’m eating too much sweet stuff.


Neely Quinn: Yeah.


Thomasina Pidgeon: So I’ve got to cut back.


Neely Quinn: One last question is about body weight, because I usually ask people about this and especially on this diet, because a lot of people would hear you say, “I ate a ton of fat, I ate a ton of butter, avocados,” and they think they would gain weight on that. What happened to you?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I didn’t gain weight, no. I stayed the same and actually I felt leaner, I felt better. I think eating – like, right now I’ve been eating bread lately and I feel like I’m less lean than I usually am. I think it helped. I think if you’re not eating processed food and you’re not eating sugar and stuff that isn’t from a factory then you’re probably going to be pretty good, healthy-wise.


Neely Quinn: Cool.


Thomasina Pidgeon: We definitely eat too much processed food in our diets and I think that’s probably a reason for obesity and being overweight.


Neely Quinn: So what are your thoughts, for you in particular, on your body weight and your performance in climbing?


Thomasina Pidgeon: I’m not sure, actually. I’ve heard you ask this question before to other people and I thought about it. I feel, at one point when I was in Hueco Tanks a few years ago I was pretty thin because I was just walking a lot. I think I was like 100 pounds or something and I don’t remember feeling very powerful. I think I gained a few pounds at some point and I was surprised because I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I feel stronger.’ Like, I felt more powerful, I think – I don’t know. I think right now I’m a little bit heavier than normal but if I was 105 that, for me, is the ideal weight. I think right now I’m at 108.


Neely Quinn: So it sounds like it’s not something you obsess over or think about all too much.


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, I don’t obsess about it too much. I guess if I felt I was getting too pudgy I would just stop eating candy, which I will. I haven’t had any in awhile so that’s good.


Neely Quinn: Okay, well those are all my questions for you unless there’s anything else you would like to add.


Thomasina Pidgeon: No, I think, unless somebody wants to become a better climber it’s to work on your weaknesses and rest a lot, like Steve says, and get out of your comfort zone, which is a hard thing to do, but…


Neely Quinn: Yeah, it seems like that’s the major theme throughout all the interviews that I do, is the best climbers, that’s what they’re doing. They’re tackling their weaknesses.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, and get uncomfortable. The other day I actually went in and I wanted to go to the co-op here. I walked by and there was like four or five people in there and I didn’t know anyone. I hovered outside for about 10 minutes before I went in. I was like, ‘Stop it! Just go in, just go in.’ I was like, ‘Hey, I’m not comfortable going in. I just have to go in,’ and it was totally fine.

Failing in public and all this kind of stuff is just going to make you a better climber overall so it’s a good thing to work on.


Neely Quinn: Yeah, words of wisdom so thank you, and good luck in the comp in February, and good luck in your year of climbing outside.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Thanks. Thanks for having me.


Neely Quinn: Oh, actually, can you tell people where they can find you online?


Thomasina Pidgeon: Yeah, I have a Facebook, Thomasina Pidgeon. I think my Instagram is Thomasina Pidgeon and my blog is


Neely Quinn: Okay.


Thomasina Pidgeon: And that’s it.


Neely Quinn: Okay, well have a great day and thanks again.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Cool. Thank you.


Neely Quinn: Bye.


Thomasina Pidgeon: Bye.


Neely Quinn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Thomasina Pidgeon. Again, you can find her at and something that she forgot to mention that she does is personal coaching, in person. If you’re in the Squamish area or you follow her and you’re kind of in the same area that she’s at, like Bishop, which it sounds like she goes through very often and even Europe, she will coach you. That’s part of how she supports herself so if you want that, go to her website.

Coming up – let’s see. Today I’m actually interviewing Tom Randall, one of Wide Boyz out of England. Sheffield, which is apparently where all good climbers live. It’s kind of like the Boulder of England it sounds like. Anyway, Tom Randall trains people as well as climbing really hard himself, he also trains people.

Before he trains people he has them do an assessment so they have to go through a sequence of exercises on the fingerboard, doing pull-ups, push-ups, flexibility, all kinds of things, and he does an analysis after they’re done with that. Then, he spits back this three-page super nerdy document saying what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and what they need to work on. He had my husband, Seth, do that. I was not up for the challenge but Seth was so he wrote that assessment out and that’s what we’re going to talk about. I think that Seth is actually even going to be on that episode. It should be interesting, sort of a new platform for conversation and hopefully we’ll get some great information from Tom Randall.

Other than that, if you guys need more help with your training always know that we have our training programs on the site. If you go to you’ll find our training programs kind of all over the site. There’s – they have their own tab at the top and they’re all over the sidebar. In particular, if you’re working on bouldering right now, we have our bouldering program which gives you three unique workouts every week and you’ll be working on strength, strength endurance or power endurance – whatever you want to call it – power, shoulder stability, injury prevention of all kinds, and it’s never boring. You get to go into the gym and be told exactly what to do, which I think, for me, is the most important part. Check that out.

Every time you guys purchase a program from us it supports what I do here on the podcast, it supports what we do for TrainingBeta, and we really, really appreciate it. Thanks for listening. I hope you guys have a really great week of training and climbing and be safe out there. Don’t push too hard. Know your limits and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks again for listening.



TrainingBeta is a site dedicated to training for rock climbing. We provide resources and information about training for routes, bouldering, finger strength, mental training, nutrition for climbers, and everything in between. We offer climbing training programs, a blog, interviews on the TrainingBeta Podcast, personal training for climbing, and nutrition for climbers.

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