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Winter training for Parkour or Free running

Training in Parkour during winter is fun.

Snow, cold, frost, more snow, blizzards and the list goes on. For many people it seems like a huge obstacle to overcome physically, because of the bad conditions winter training offers. But some people see it differently.

Winter, indeed, is one of the biggest obstacles that a practitioner may encounter, as weather conditions, even surrounding soil become your enemies. Yet, we still need to face forward and the elements throw everything at us.

Most, especially beginners, back away on first sight of the gray clouds or colder winds, go home and wait for another beautiful day to train. Winter is not as bad as it looks, or rather, as she wants to be. The snow littered over obstacles, over which you flew before, will not prevent you to fly over them now. For those who do not realize, winter helps you know yourself better and see what you are able to do, because it gives you the toughest of conditions and teaches you how to use them.

Do we stop winter training?

A widespread view in the Parkour community, is that winter months are just for workouts at home, fitness and general training for the 3-4 summer months per year that are a real pleasure. In adverse conditions, we keep hoping for an hour or two of good weather for a short workout.

No way!

In fact, if you thought like this so far, you have lost a lot – not just a few months of training but also a unique opportunity to explore areas of Parkour which often remain unexplored. Winter does not have to mean the cessation of training. If approached correctly and with some caution, harsh weather can offer new challenges that we can use to move forward, learn and improve our techniques as good as in the spring / summer / autumn.

The key is not to see the weather in terms of good or bad. The resulting limited perspective leaves you at the mercy of a variable that you can not control. There is no good or bad weather, there is only weather. There are many forms, it can change often, and yes, indeed, some conditions are more suitable for certain activities.

Quadrupedal movement during winter

A good example: quadrupedal walking through snow trails or on ice, strengthens your entire body and it is the best way to keep warm outside during training. For those at the beginning, snow provides the best cushioning for learning the Roll and other variations for the advanced. Ice will help to find new ways to move, especially if you use it properly.

A truly adaptable individual sees different weather types as different types of obstacles, like walls of different heights or distances of different sizes, or even as a new and uncharted territories. In short, sees the whims of the weather as opportunities, not as barriers.

What to consider during Parkour winter training

Of course, there are issues to be taken into account when we train in adverse conditions. They are mostly common sense things (do not try a speed-vault on an icy bar) but they are worth to review and note them. Adapting to weather is exactly as the words suggest: continue training as usual regardless of conditions. You simply need to create a route based on the existing environment and be cautious when you do.

Also, training in cold and moisture can be extremely refreshing. And above all, a true test of your dedication and commitment. As long as you properly manage and respect the dangers and weather variables, such training can be very enjoyable.

Clothes for winter training

Use good layering for clothes in winter trainings.

Clothes we wear have an important role for a training to go smoothly. Training shoes or comfortable boots, winter jacket or sweatshirt, hat or bareheaded, with gloves or without. These choices are very important for your health and well-being. Do not neglect these things and do not try to see how much cold you are able to resist, because not everyone can. It is true that if you do not stop moving you won’t catch a cold, but there are people who are more sensitive to snow and weather. Use such clothes as to not be cold while you train, but also so you can move freely.

The COLD factor

It’s a known fact that moderate cold actually increases performance. On the other hand, extreme cold can diminish performance and prolonged exposure can be fatal if you get hypothermia (low internal body temperature).

Unlike human capacity for acclimatization to heat, man has no ability to adapt to cold, except mental tolerance. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to keep your body temperature constant during winter workouts. Muscles and ligaments must be warmed-up and maintained at a constant temperature to avoid injury.

How to prevent being cold

The key phrase here is “wrapping yourself up”, with fitted shirts and sweaters that retain natural body heat close to the skin, maintaining a constant temperature. The material put directly onto the skin should be made of a material that allows airflow (such as polypropylene) materials that absorb sweat moisture, preventing it to cool on the skin.

Cover your head and hands in very cold conditions and wear thick socks with appropriate footwear, as most heat is lost through the extremities. Avoid cotton material as it becomes wet quickly (which lead to cold, flu or hypothermia). On the outside, wear a waterproof material to protect you from rain or moisture.

However, avoid over-loading clothes as physical exercise will warm you up considerably – dress for a temperature of 20 degrees more than it really is.

Careful on the terrain and drink water

Avoid running on hard surfaces that could be covered by frost or ice. Use snow because it provides enhanced traction. In conditions of extreme cold, humidity approaches zero and large amounts of fluids are lost through exhaled vapors, so it is imperative to keep hydrated. This will ensure the proper functioning of muscles and their rapid recovery after training. It is recommended to drink rich in carbohydrates as it will help the immune system and, as a bonus, prevent frostbite or severe cases.

The importance of warming-up in winter

Warm-up is key during winter training for Parkour or Free running

At low temperatures, warming-up and stretching at the end is twice as important. Preferably, warm up in the house before going out and avoid doing nothing for as long as possible.

Wind is, again, a factor to be taken into consideration when you dress. The natural wind and air currents created when jumping or performing various movements will change the way your body behaves.

All these will lead to training shorter sessions, more compact and more intense during the cold season, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Water, WATER everywhere!

Take extra caution with slippery surfaces.

You have to, not only endure the rain itself, but you must also note that at low temperatures, water takes longer to evaporate, so surfaces remain “wet” and slippery long after the rain stopped. Check any material, especially metal, like iron bars. These are accidents waiting to happen, as are the walls made of marble.

Wear shoes with a good grip. As expected, the actual time that you run will be reduced considerably, so you can sacrifice light weight for enhanced grip. Adjust your distance and pace your running depending on the outside weather. Most winter injury is the result of inadequate shoes, ice and water. If you have to run in such conditions, use slow speed and pace and watch your step.

After working out in humid conditions, change your clothes as soon as possible – wet clothes will lower your body temperature quickly. Ideally, you should change your clothes before you relax after training. If the training place is away from home, get a change of clothes with you to change after your workout immediately.

With thorough preparation, attention and effort dosage during training, you’ll be prepared to keep a steady pace. Consider what the environment offers – learn to adapt to conditions and there are no reasons why you can not progress, irrespective of the weather.

Opportunity in adversity

Carefull not to slip during your Parkour winter training.

Another factor to remember is that if any snow, would it be on the ground or an obstacle, check 2 times if there is something beneath that can cause injury or accidents. If necessary clean the place or check and put snow back. Remember, safety comes first because nobody wants to sit with a broken leg during winter vacation.

In addition to training in adverse conditions, there is a positive side by continuing training in the winter months. In a real sense, you are faced with a totally different environment, and that without having to travel or paying for it. Covered with snow, rain drops, wind or breeze overshadowed by clouds, the environment complexity changes. It is not necessarily a bad thing – just different. Is it not a goal of Parkour to move effectively and successfully in any environment and over any land? So I see this season as an opportunity to excel in a new environment – adapt and overcome!

Parkour winter training clips

I want to finish by showing you two clips of Parkour winter training exercises you can try to imitate, or use as an inspiration.

  1. Dylan Black

    November 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Just got around to reading this and thank you for this post. Will help with my training a lot.

    • Dan Dinu

      November 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Hi Dylan,

      Great to hear that. I hope you’ll have a fast and nice evolution this winter. Train safe and come back to tell me more about how it went.

  2. brahm cross

    November 21, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I was contemplating whether or not to go out there and learn, but yeah this sounds good ill give it a go, although i need shoes that have good grip, would boots be okay for training, because i understand that the thicker the shoe, the less sensory your feet have 😛

    • Dan Dinu

      November 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hi Brahm,

      During winter training you will get your feet wet, no matter what. So I suggest you take a pair of extra shoes and winter socks in your backpack. When you leave the training place, change your wet shoes. Boots are an option, but I prefer running shoes, even in winter time. You can give both versions a try and see how you cope.

  3. Pingback: Parkour gym in Canada gives youth opportunity to try out Free running |

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