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How Sierra Blair-Coyle Trains To Perform

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Sierra Blair-Coyle is not just another pretty face, although her face is gorgeous. Blair-Coyle was a two-time National Champion as a junior competitor and is consistently in the top ten at National Bouldering events. Last November, Blair-Coyle won the 2018 Pan-American Championships for bouldering. Blair-Coyle graduated in May 2016 from Arizona State University with a degree in marketing and has since been living her dream—climbing hard and doing some modeling gigs on the side. 

Gym Climber caught up with Blair-Coyle to learn how she trains to perform.

Tell me about your training schedule. 

My training schedule is three days on, one day off. My first day I usually moonboard in the morning and then campus and hangboard at night. On the second day, I tend to go to climbing gyms in the area and onsight or project. On day three, I strength train in the morning and then do volume in the afternoon, maybe 40ish boulders total (V6 to V8 depending on my energy). 

Maintaining and improving is the balance. I don’t cycle, but two weeks before a comp I taper. For me, what’s really important, no matter whether an important comp is approaching or not, I prioritize climbing. Its 70-80% of what I do.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about going 150% for three months and then 10%. You have to go 90% and be consistent. Its can be hard because you want to do everything, but you have to be patient. 

Which coaches have you worked with?

I worked with Roman (the Austrain Coach) a few years ago. When I was younger my dad trained me, but more or less I’ve been on my own since I was 12. I stopped doing junior comps when I was 14 and I was over the youth comps pretty quickly. I would train with friends at the gym, but I never wanted to be a part of a team. If I had been, I think it would be weird for me now to not have a team to train with. 

Tell me about your home wall.

It’s about 1000 square feet of climbing. All of the walls are about 16 feet tall. I have a vertical, a slab, an overhung wall and a moonboard. 

I have people come in to set. I think it’s better to have someone else do it, but I’ll add to existing boulders between sets. Setting frequency depends on my schedule and when I’m actually home, so between every four weeks and six months. 

What do you typically eat in a day? Do you plan your meals?

I’m pretty boring and can eat the same thing all the time. For breakfast, I like some type of protein, like steak or chicken with salad. If I’m training that day, I’ll add carbs like rice or sweet potato.

Throughout the day I generally snack. I like bananas or dates and veggie juice. Nothing processed.

For dinner I have a protein shake. I try not to eat too much meat because it’s bad for the environment. In my protein shake, I use Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend. It’s a chocolate flavored pea, hemp and goji berry protein.

I dont keep track of calories or macros or anything. I just go off of what I feel. If I’m craving more carbs, then I’ll eat more, but not like a box of cookies. I just have a bigger portion of rice or whatever.

Sierra Blair-Coyle in the 2019 Vail Bouldering World Cup. Photo Daniel Gajda

What fuels you during a comp?

My diet stays the same. I try to eat a little more, but it can be hard to get stuff down. I bring a lot of quick energy snacks, like dates and bananas. I also really like toast with honey. 

Favorite treat?

Coconut milk ice cream. It’s the best!

What do you think about during a competition?

Comps stress me out, so I like to take care of everything I can and stay in my routine. I don’t think about a ton—just focus on what I need to do at each step, like putting on my shoes two minutes before going, taking off my jacket and sweatpants. 

What allows you to perform at a World Cup level?

I try hard and I don’t care if it doesn’t go well. I’m confident in myself as a climber, so I don’t let competitions get to me if I don’t get a good result. My philosophy is just do the best you can, don’t get down from bad results, and just work harder for the next one. 

Do you take any seasonal breaks or vacations?

There really is no break. If I wanted to do a bouldering comp every weekend I think I could. I usually schedule a vacation one to two weeks in advance when I think I have time and there’s no last minute comps or photoshoots. I try to go somewhere that’s cheap and easy and where I can get a direct flight. 

What are some things you’ve struggled with over the years? How did you overcome them?

For me, it was balancing climbing and university. I was so stressed out all the time. My doctor said I should take a semester off but I didn’t want to stay in school longer than I had too. Also at that time, people didn’t think I was good enough. And for someone that is confident in their ability, that was hard to deal with. 

At the end of the day, your not going to make everyone happy. I’ve really learned to focus on doing what I want to do and not worrying about what other people think. 

Would you separate your model career from your job as a professional athlete?

I wouldn’t separate it. My athletic career was the door to doing more shoots. It’s cool to get time to be more glamorous—most of the time I’m just covered in chalk. 

Long-term plans?

I’d really like to open a climbing gym in Arizona. That’s been a goal of mine for a long time. And I want to climb professionally for as long as I can. I will always be involved with the climbing community. 

What are your hopes for the future of climbing?

I hope climbing continues to grow. I know for a long time people were concerned that the growth would be hard on the outdoors. But also there’s now people that just want to climb indoors because doing that is finally more respected. I think that’s really cool. 

I’m also looking forward to seeing how setting evolves. What other moves can they come up with? And what will the next trend be?

Feature Image by Carol Coelho

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