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Parkour: Week 3, Day 1 - The Good Stuff

Today we finally got a real taste of something new - something most of us have realistically never done before, and normally would never do. I mean, there are always situations where someone will jump, and occasionally someone might roll... but when was the last time you tried to run straight up a wall at full speed?

The entire class is really starting to bed in and gel now - we're laughing and joking a lot more with each other and really having a good time. We're also all in less pain, and it's interesting how fast we recover. I was talking with Cameron during the warmup (on our final job around the block), discussing how the first week we were exhausted the entire class, but by the end of the second week we had extra energy to burn just a few minutes after the warmup. This is what good training is all about.

Today's warmup was complicated, so I took a photo with my cell to help me remember. It went like this, one time through the following:

1 lap (4 blocks)
1 set quadripedal movement down and back
5 rolls to each side (10 total)
10 jump pullups
10 precision jumps with slow squat on landing and lift
10 jump pullups
5 rolls to each side (10 total)
1 set quadripedal movement down and back
1 lap (4 blocks)

I think it sums up what we've been through when someone looked at that and said "that looks like an easy warmup." And we all agreed. Eep!

It was though, comparatively at least. The first lap was easy, but on the first set of QM's near the end of the first direction I did something to my left elbow... I'm not sure what happened, it twisted funny and totally gave out. It really hurt for a few moments then seemed fine again.

The rolls were easy and fun, and MUCH more intuitive. Definitely all the practice is sinking in, though still not perfect. The first set of jump pullups was no problem, though I'm still slightly using my toes to balance for the lift - I can't quite do a full set with just my upper body.

The precision jumps were VERY easy this time around, I totally am getting the hang of them, except one problem - I kept slipping off the precision trainer! I didn't follow the first thing we learned, getting to know our surface. Apparently I somehow got one that was slippery than normal, which I confirmed by carefully feeling it out after messing up a few times. Once I got this figure out it was no problem.

Second set of jump pullups I had to start using my legs a bit more on the explosion to get up over the bar starting on #6, but I'm getting there. Second set of rolls, again no problem. During the second set of QM's I again had that weird spasm in my left elbow, something about the way I'm bending it. When I got near the end of one set it sorta gave out and I collapsed a bit, and Adam (assistant trainer + yoga instructor) was right there - "Are you okay?" in a fairly concerned voice. I kinda twitched and looked up and went "yeah" and he turned into full on trainer - "well get going then don't stop!" haha. The final QM run didn't hurt, though I'm curious to figure out what the deal was there.

The final lap was a little hard at first - the first block was np, but the second block started to burn and I slowed down. Coolest part of the group training here, Cameron came up behind me and yelled "come on Pete!" and I ended up running the rest of the way with him chatting, even though I think I would have wussed out a bit more on my own. Cool.

Cadence and Momentum:

The main lesson today was cadence. The point is that to be successful at parkour, you must absolutely maintain momentum. This means understanding where your feet are going to be and positioning them correctly, without slowing down. If you need to jump from a ledge or a bar, or run up to a wall, or anything along those lines, you need to do it at full speed. Slowing down and taking little stutter steps to do this will slow you down and is unacceptable.

To illustrate this, they placed a couple precision trainers and two balls in a wide circle, sorta like this:


We then proceeded to jog in laps around the circle, first making sure to hit our right foot on the trainers, then the left. All had to be done without stutter stepping - you basically need to choose your foot placement and stride as you round the ball and head for the trainer, with 4-5 steps to set up the right placement. Once we got comfortable, they started making us doing this while looking up at them in the center, and not allowing us to look down at the trainer. After awhile at this, Rob and Adam started to mix things up...

Rob stood at one side, Adam at the other. As we rounded each ball, one of them would call out which foot we needed to hit the trainer on, and we'd have about 4-6 steps (depending on when they called it out) to set our stride. This was intensely cool.

My feelings on this - I think I struggled most with trying to balance my rythym with the person in front of me. I didn't want to overrun them, but at the same time they seemed to be slightly slower than I wanted to go. This made it fairly difficult, and I probably missed at least one in six (actually hit them, but not at full stride - i.e., I slowed down a fraction). Overall I felt fairly confident though and did not have any problems with looking away to do it either.

The next part was really cool, though slightly frustrating. We practiced speed! I love speed. I am quite fast for my bulk and fitness level (hehe) in a short straight line (recently clocked an extended sprint at just over 17MPH using my gps), and I build speed fairly fast. When accelerating rapidly I seemed to have absolutely no problem hitting the trainer with the foot they called out - it just magically happened. It's really hard to describe this other than that it "felt right." (we discussed this a bit as a class later, and Travis mentioned that it's because you don't have time to think about it, your body just makes it happen)

So, why was this frustrating? There was not enough room in the gym for me to slow down, lol. If I hit the trainer at full speed, I had about four steps to stop before smashing into a wall. This prevented me from hitting peak, as I actually had to kinda hold my speed down a bit. Why did this matter?

Races! Woowoo. We did a set of races, first hitting the trainer with the right foot, then the left foot, in pairs. I easily won both of my races against two of the fitter guys in the class even landing on the correct foot both times (yes!), but I felt like I should have destroyed them more - I had to slow down. Weak sauce! Haha.

So, the winner of the race gets to set a "punishment" for the loser, and the loser has to do five reps of something. The first time I won I turned to the guy (don't remember his name) and asked "What's easiest for you?" haha Travis pounced on me! "None of that! You can't do that! Just for that you both have to do it!" So we did 5 pushups, easy (I had so much adrenaline from the race that I was popping myself all the way off the ground on mine hehe). Second race I also one and I decided on 5 tuck jumps, but I also did them too to be fair. This was neat to see - a lot of the pairs in the class (I think all of them actually) ended up doing this, showing us working together as a team.

The Wall Climb:

Next, we started initial training with the wall climb. This, my friends, is not as easy as it looks. Certainly not as easy as Travis made it look when he scrambled up the wall to touch the ~fifteen foot ceiling. That's sick.

We focused on two important points - finding the right angle/spot to hit the wall (only taking one step on the wall), and landing properly. The latter a lot of people were forgetting at first, you have to really remember the proper way to land. You get so caught up in climbing that you turn off halfway down from the wall and forget your form. I had to concentrate on this but it worked out great.

First impressions of wall climbing - um, yeah, this is not that easy. At first I was slipping every time, no grip, and Adam pointed out I was hitting quite high enough. He said just a few more inches would make a difference and it really did - suddenly my foot was hooking and I could actually sorta propel myself upwards. The rest of it didn't follow through properly though - my body kinda wanted to just fold into some sort of protective ball from running at the wall fast, instead of accepting that it was okay to power up.

Worked out pretty well and I have to admit I sorta had to resist the temptation to flip off the wall. That's probably a good thing since I haven't done that since high school...

This was a lot of fun but really short - we only each had maybe 10 attempts at it. On Wednesday Rob said we would measure for height and really try it out, which I'm really looking forward to. After that, the class wound down...


Last week Adam offered free yoga classes for those of us who stayed after, as he does an 8-9PM yoga class that he isn't paid for (just free membership). I decided to take him up on this, and did my first yoga ever! (though I have done some of those forms before in other ways)

This was pretty neat. I'm definitely going to keep doing it. It's hard to describe it - it sorta reminds me of the first time I got a professional massage. It seemed very underwhelming at the time usually, with occasional moments that seemed to click and seemed really intense. The real change was at the end though, I felt incredibly energized rather than tired and as a result ended up running (not jogging!) at least half a mile on the way home. I'm probably going to regret that bit...

In any case, fantastic overall. The unfortunate bit is that now I need to start making decisions about the intermediate boot camp, which starts in July but moves class to Tue/Thu/Sat - and usually I have softball on Tue and kickball on Thu. :/ I think softball isn't going so hot this season (we keep taking outs due to missing girls), so I may ditch that and just do parkour Tue/Sat and kickball on Thu, with my own workouts Mon/Wed. TBD.


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