Train Hard - Stay Humble
I’m sure you’ve seen this, or done it yourself. It seems more and more I notice the cars next to me in traffic uselessly accelerating toward something that will inevitably force them to slam on the brakes, when they could just coast and arrive at the same point in space and time without the risk or the waste. I couldn’t say as to the cause behind this strange, irrational behavior, as I’m sure it is the product of a collection of different factors. However, I do feel like a lot of this stems from our obsession with time and our displeasure with interims, a topic I wrote about several weeks ago.
What I find more interesting is that this behavior is not localized, but intrudes into other facets of life – parkour training, for instance. This past Summer, as the college students rolled away from Rochester, the high school scene moved in. This was a welcome change and it was great to see such a boom come from a demographic we never purposefully
Teaching high schoolers and teaching college students/adults is not all that different, however, it wasn’t until I started teaching high schoolers that I began to realize this behavior in almost all of my beginning students. It’s not that it wasn’t there before, or that college students don’t possess it, the behavior was just amplified in the high schoolers and made it easier to pin point in others.
The problem most beginners experience is a simple disconnect between the beginning and the end; That is, a complete misunderstanding of the space in-between – the journey between those two points in time. For whatever reason (they vary quite a deal), beginners have some meaningful and unique view of what it means to be a traceur and work their asses off to get there as quickly as possible. In my high schoolers, for instance, they all seemed to have an overwhelming drive to attain as many skills as fast as possible, a behavior I call “check-list syndrome,” in the parkour realm.
The enthusiasm these beginners have is a good thing, and should be encouraged. However, there is nothing meaningful in check-list syndrome. Skills are learned and acquired and checked off as if they were tasks in your daily to-do. Meaning is stripped in favor of the ability to fabricate movement or abilities they see in their idols. The check-list mentality is almost always exacerbated into a traceur’s race against time – the goal is no longer the experience, but the ability to say, “I can do this and I learned it in this amount of time.” The addition of time into training quickly becomes a detriment to overall progress and development. Training, then, becomes a race; a war to win no matter how many lives are sacrificed; And sacrifice is truly present. Overuse injuries are some of the most common among traceurs and come about so quickly. More and more I see men and women training themselves not to failure, but to injury. It is a behavior as irrational as accelerating a car towards a red light. Inevitably, you will slam on the brakes.
The drive for development is important to realize and acknowledge. We would not be who we are or do what we do without it, but it is a force that can so easily be taken too far – so far, in fact, that progress is completely halted or reversed. In another realm, a client of mine recently discovered this as her drive to lose weight transformed into an obsession. It lingered and festered and rather quickly her enthusiasm overshadowed her judgement. She began to lower calorie intake further than what was prescribed and began weighing herself everyday, focusing all that attention on the number that appeared on the screen, not the overall goal. What was once a healthy decline evolved into a plateau. A complete and opposite reaction, and one that requires a lot of effort to reverse.
I’m positive this concept is not new, nor is the problem. I could easily relate this back to the children’s story of the tortoise and the hare: constant speed versus fractured acceleration. It is important to focus some time and attention on developing the understanding of what progress is and what form it takes. The end or completion of a goal is surely important, but will never be above the external, but directly related lessons and experiences gained during the progression.
There are no good, well rationed reasons to speed directly at a red light. In this same sense, there are no good, well rationed reasons to speed through your training as quickly as possible to become the “best” traceur in as little time as possible. I assure you, you will find yourself there, and potentially at the same time as you would have through fractured acceleration. Calm and patience are one of the more prominent, distinguishable characteristics between true traceurs and traceurs suffering from check-list syndrome. Don’t risk your health and your joy in movement simply to acquire skills or arrive at a destination as quickly as possible, only to find yourself in a cast, in therapy, or worse later.
Do not speed toward red lights – your training is not a race. It is an experience.