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Neely Quinn interviews pro rock climbers, climbing trainers, and other insightful members of the climbing community about how we can get a little better at rock climbing. Subjects include how to train for certain aspects of the sport, how to rehab injuries, the best diet for climbing, and personal stories about climbing.

Jul 13, 2023

Back in April, I published an episode with Thomas Cunningham all about how he trains efficiently as a busy dad and ER physician to be able to send up to 5.14c projects in only 10-15 days outside climbing per year. You can listen to that episode in the link below:

Listen to my first interview with Thomas  

In that episode, we started talking about how he uses the Whoop (a wearable bio tracking device), continuous glucose meters, and some other biohacking type stuff, but the interview would’ve been reallllly long if we’d gone into all of it in details. So I asked him to come back for a second interview to talk about all of that. We’ll be doing another one soon on using bloodwork to optimize supplementation, etc. for climbing performance soon.

So who is Thomas?

Thomas is a 36-year-old emergency medicine physician and father of 3 children from Louisville, KY who’s been climbing for around 20 years. After talking to him for a while, I realized he is SUPER scientific about everything he does in climbing. This is no surprise because he’s quite an overachiever in his academic/professional life as well.

He’s published a bunch of academic papers, he was chief resident at the University of Louisville Department of Emergency Medicine a while back, and WHILE he was doing that, he started a medical device company, Inscope Medical, and was VP of Innovations. He also completed an IronMan while he was an intern resident.

Here is his CV if you’re interested.

He’s an ambitious person, to say the least, and that means he has less time than some of us for climbing and training.

Only getting outside climbing around 10-15 days per year, and focusing all of that time on very hard projects, he has learned that his training and all of his days outside have to be hyperfocused and specific.

He also has to optimize his body for all the training he does and to be in peak performance mode when he’s trying to send. He’s used a continouse glucose meter (CGM) on himself in the past and he asked Sam Elias and Jonathan Horst to start wearing one in order to help them optimize their fueling for climbing.

He came into this interview with data on both of them (and himself), including what they were eating before using the CGM, the changes they made to their diets after and while using it, and the effects it had on their climbing. The CGM basically takes a reading of your blood glucose every 5 minutes so you can see in real time how each food/meal affects you.

We also talk a little more about the Whoop in this episode, which I’ve now gotten 6 of my friends and family using. It’s really interesting looking at the data each day about your sleep quality/quantity, how recovered you are, your HRV, and all kinds of stuff I’ve never paid attention to before. Thomas goes into how exactly he uses the whoop and how I’ve been using it myself.

This episode was really fun for me because this stuff as a nutritionist is extremely interesting. I hope you love it too!

Oh, and if you want to work with Thomas, you can do that by clicking on the link below:

Work with Thomas on Your Own Biohacking