Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

I often feel unsatisfied after training for even a couple hours. This is due to the lack of structure for me. But it would be nice for you to share a few ideas about what you do that makes your training session progressive, rewarding, and satisfying.

Do you plan out your training or train spontaneously?

Do you condition more or train more?

Do you prefer to train in groups or solo?

What about a spot makes it a good place to train?

What kind of goals do you set when you train?

Is your mind heightened and excited when you train?

Or is it calm and determined?

What would count as exceeding your goals?

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One thing I've always felt add to a training session is conditioning. Even if you manage to neglect the actual parkour later, then at least you'll have accomplished something. Something else I'd recommend is just to keep moving, all the time. Even without lack of structure it'll force you to practice basic techniques and you'll no doubt either be sore or achieve better "flow" by the end of the day.
Definatley. If i don't keep moving i notice i get lazy and slack off, then wish i had worked harder.
I think one of the best things I did for my training was to stop trying to make "the most" of a training session. That's not to say that I accept mediocre efforts on my part (I do slack more than I would like, but I think I'm okay at containing it), but that I'm looking at longer term growth of my abilities. When many of us start parkour, we learn a lot in a very short amount of time for a variety of reasons, many of them subjective so I won't try to list them. Then, naturally, we reach a plateau which feels frustrating because we're not learning a new skill or seeing clear improvement every session. But in my experience, sometimes improvements come only after stepping away and returning to something- could be that certain muscles needed to rebuild after many repetitive movements, could be that my mind needs to purge itself of practice errors, again lots of subjective reasons- so I remind myself that there are a lot of things I need to work on, I'll work on something else for a while and then come back to a particular skill sometimes weeks later. One thing that I learned after long, frustrating darkroom printing sessions was that if it's not working in the first half-hour or so, it's often better to stop and come back later. It's important to set both long- and short-term goals but don't take it too hard if sometimes even single-session goals aren't met.

But to the specific questions, because I think they're good ones:

- planned or spontaneous: I usually have some idea in my head what I want to work on during a session before I get to a location. This is often either because 1. I've been there before and have been visualizing movement possibilities; or 2. my body is telling me to favor some parts over othes (eg my shoulders have been stiff so I will do more QM and arm-oriented work to loosen them up). When I am at a new location or one that I'm not familiar with, I look for unique or unfamiliar structures and figure out different ways to move in them. I often create structure by making myself do a specific number- no more or less- of a certain movement or keep moving in a space for a set amount of time.

- Conditioning is training, training is conditioning. I don't like to do general fitness conditioning, but I think it's necessary and has great benefits for movement-oriented work. I tend to do my conditioning through movements (eg cat leap to top-out to 5 dips before popping over).

- Groups or solo: I think groups of 3-5 is an ideal number. Being with other people helps motivate and also keeps things fresh when everyone is participating; also, I like to social aspect. I like how our larger sessions naturally break up into small pods and mix during the course of a session. When I really want to focus, though, I tend to train alone or with one other person who I'm not worried about boring with lots and lots of repetition (I am definitely of the approach that says train until you can't do it wrong, not the one that says "I've done that" and walks away).

- A good spot has a variety of scalable challenges so you can change up things when you're tired, when you want to string things together, when you want to be creative, etc. Sometimes, though, I find all I want is a parking block and a curb and I'll have plenty to do for half and hour easy. Of course being clean, reasonably well-lit, and safe from eviction helps, too.

-Goals: During a session, a goal could be to balance along the entire length of a rail or it could be to make a focused effort toward a technique I know I won't have down even after a few sessions (QMing a certain rail at UCB was one that took me most of a summer to achieve). My main goal is to remain focused; anything more defineable is also more refineable so achieving a goal tends to make me raise my standards before I consider anything truly achieved.

- Ideally, my mind is all those things during a session; overall, I work to be focused and present. I think parkour requires tracers to be very honest about themselves when training and that is the mindset I aim to be in. Don't be so inward-looking that you can't listen to others or your surroundings (that includes socializing, too), but don't be so distracted that you are unsafe or uncritical of yourself.
Have fun, forget how hard you're working, then wake up the next day too sore to move. Or if you don't wake up the next day too sore to move, at least you had fun and that's a reward in itself. :)

In all seriousness though, I find that thinking too hard or too much can really bog you down. If you're playing, your mind is limber and you're less likely to limit or discourage yourself.
Thanks for the very insightful and uplifting responses.

@Seng I have in fact (as you will notice) stepped away from parkour, which was a great suggestion (:

@Marisa: You're right, just have fun. I guess this is where I capitalize on the creativity aspect of Parkour.

@Fyrel: Never stopping, that is indeed a great great tip.

I do want to incorporate this as a coordination and cardio conditioning aspect that will benefit my now main focus, martial arts. I've stepped away, and now I re-engage. In the time being where I haven't been training in parkour, I have been training in Muay thai kickboxing and just started Brazilian jujitsu. I'm probably in better shape than I was when I was conditioning for parkour. It's just that I can go 3 hours without stopping with MMA, but not with parkour. Anyways, I would love to my life back into this moving meditation (whereas before I had put parkour into my life.) I think I'm going to combine my parkour and martial arts training.

10x10 burpees with 1 minute rest will do the trick!  This is great base-line conditioning level, start with 5 x 10 with 2 minutes rest first...then progress.  Explode each burpee as high as possible, do full, controlled push-up at the bottom.

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