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Parkour: Week 3, Day 2 - Wall Runs!

Today was totally awesome - vertical wall runs for a little bit, followed by one part of a horizontal wall run referred to as a "tic tac." The picture to the right is me practicing the tic tac running up the stairs in my building - there's no doubt that it is an incredibly faster way of going around the corners, I can hit the wall and leap up about 4-5 steps. Of course, I'm not fit enough to do this more than a couple times in a row haha.

Okay, rewind: Getting to Primal today sucked. I was out in Chantilly near Dulles, left at 5:15 figuring I'd be back in the city by 6:15.. instead, horrible traffic. I managed to park outside my apartment building in a no-parking zone at 6:55, run in and change in about 2min, then return my zip car and run the 1/2 mile to Primal at full speed, getting there only a few minutes late when the warmup was in progress.

Warmup today (x3):

1x lap (four blocks)
5 rolls each side
10 leg popups per leg
10 jump pullups
5 rolls each side

Felt like candy today, even though I was really brutalized by my near sprint of the half mile to Primal. Overall I was okay and happy!

The main part of the class started with a review of our homework and our stuff from last week, focusing around cadence and the vertical wall run. We then spent around 10-15 minutes practicing our vertical wall runs, again not climbing high but instead just using one step off the wall. This is actually a lot harder than it seems, and definitely takes practice.

You can't land too high on the wall, you won't get the leverage up. You can't hit it too low, you won't get enough friction. You can't land with your foot in a bad position, no friction. You can't push out and up or you will go away from the wall and lose distance. You can't focus only on going straight up or you might hit the wall. All of this to handle with only your FIRST step. You then have to focus your entire body on staying against the wall and stepping upwards, then slowly gliding off the wall and landing in a perfect safe landing. It feels like it might be easier to take the second step, but that's probably fake.

We went through an interesting exercise where we chalked our standing reach, then chalked our max reach and compared. The average was a solid 4-5 feet higher. We then did it again with our off hands/legs, and most people (including myself) had a harder time with the coordination.

At this point I kept looking at the wall and I was half convinced I could just jump up higher, so I asked Rob if I could try and he said go ahead - I didn't get higher, heh. I was about a foot under my wall climb. Not a huge difference, but that's what comes from jumping off two legs vs one, and once we learn the second step on the vertical wall run I will definitely get a lot higher.

After this we moved to tic-tacs, which is basically running at a wall at around a 45 degree angle, stepping up to the wall at full speed and jumping off it at another 45 degree angle to the wall, redirecting momentum by around 90 degrees. This isn't just about momentum, but also height, clearance, and smooth acceleration. An example of when we'd use this is if we are approaching say a four foot fence that we might not be able to jump directly over, but if there is a wall at 90 degrees to it we can jump off the wall to clear the fence. Very cool - I also used it in the stairs to redirect momentum as seen above.

They set out a slightly angled box to help the leap, rather than using the straight wall (we'll do that next week), then we did around five tic tacs off the right foot, then the left foot. Some observations:

I expected the leap off the wall to be hard, foot slipping, finding the right spot, etc. - it's not, at least for me. It was incredibly easy to plant and re-direct momentum, find the right spot, and not slip. It also wasn't too hard to twist and change my momentum and redirect my body off to the new trajectory.

Instead, the hard part was not shoving my lead leg off the wall way out in front and landing on one leg. Instead, I had to really concentrate on tucking both legs and finding a proper landing. This definitely will take a lot of practice - even when I did get the landing right the placement was often slightly off, and my momentum was spinning my body just slightly sideways. Still, I am really stoked about this.

Our class seemed really fast today, and we ended right after this - maybe I was just having way too much fun. I could do that stuff all day long. Our homework is to try it on three different surfaces, so of course I kept trying it on the way home.

Off a metal utility box - weird with the slight amount of give, but with the proper placement no slip and effective redirect.

Off a painted metal light post - don't do this! lol. Luckily I was following safety instructions and learned my surface first, and it felt slippery... but I thought I might hook. Nope, slipped right down it! Definitely not a good idea.

Off a normal painted brick wall - easy, solid hook.

Off a marble wall - very easy hook, almost too much. I thought marble would be slippery but instead it was probably the grippiest surface I tried!

Stairs - wicked cool. I have sets of about 8 stairs, ten a quick turn, then 8 stairs. I found I could sprint up the first set, leap off the wall and land on the 4th or 5th step, run, repeat. This was incredibly fun, but I have to confess I was also careful to use the railings with my hands usually to help guide my momentum and act as a safety net to prevent me from falling or missing a step. This worked really well - in fact if I grabbed the railing with my left hand as I pushed off the wall with my right leg I could get some serious air and momentum with good control. Very fun.

I finished the night up with BBQ ribs on the grill on the roof, watching the rain roll in and taking some night shots of the city. Good times!


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