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How to train Parkour long-term

When I was younger, Bruce Lee’s representation was my definition of efficiency. I thought that the way he trained would also work for me and would motivate me past any level of pain and blast through repetitions of lactic-acid-inducing torture.

Yet what I found out was that these transformations always had another side to them. This other side not usually associated with strength: like humility, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

I quickly learned that the qualities that teach people how to train Parkour long term are very different than what most people imagine.

The average traceur

I’ve come to find that beginners attempting Parkour can be categorized into two groups: those who attempt to “will” their way into success by sheer “hard training” and those who approach Parkour with a bit more curiosity and humility.

If I only had one piece of information to predict someone’s success, it would be knowing which category someone falls into.

Hardcore training vs. Curiosity

Those who rely only on sheer willpower are headed for failure. You see, willpower is a finite resource. Ironically, hard training seems to reduce the amount of willpower we have.

Those who show humility tend to be curious and understanding of their limitations, without being hindered by their ego. They research the basic tenets of training, establish a positive feedback loop that doesn’t rely on willpower, and are open to information.

Managing failure

What are the typical reactions from someone who messes up on their training? Underestimation. Hate. Guilt.

For those looking to make a transformation it’s not hard to imagine decades, or even a lifetime of of slipping up, followed by these feelings.

These feelings, however, create a self-fulfilling prophecy. A trap. By reacting in this way, you can get blinded to the fact that perhaps you cannot just “will” your way to success on just any movement. Oftentimes, adjustments to one’s training, diet, or mentality need to be made, especially to account for life.

Being hard on yourself will only make you suffer through the exact same attempts over and over again — usually with the same outcome.

The solution to failure

As it turns out, research suggests that self-compassion may be the solution to this trap — not just with fitness, but with everything in life.

Now, you might think that self-compassion means that you’re just going to “let yourself off the hook.” On the contrary, research shows that self-compassion actually gives one the sense that improvement is possible; those who exhibit self-compassion are less likely to avoid the same mistake again.

Time and time again, I’ve found that those who make successful transformations tend to be self-compassionate. They forgive themselves for their past failures so that they can try again.

Be mindful

I have a friend who started training five years ago. In that amount of time, he’s read everything that he can on Parkour — probably more so than I have in that time span — yet hasn’t made much progress.

I had the fortune (or misfortune) of training with him the other day while he was in town. He proceeded to take his first course way faster than his level of training. On his course, he was upset that his performance was sub par. He proceeded to repeat the same movement, all while expecting a different outcome.

Upon leaving the spot, I thought to myself, “How can someone who talks about Parkour that much be so thick?”

It suddenly hit me. For all of the information that he reads, he was just never mindful about Parkour. In this case, he never thought about the connection between performance and taking step after step to success.

Knowledge doesn’t always translate into wisdom. You need to be mindful in order to make that leap.

Mindful people are able to accumulate wisdom efficiently. They quickly sort out what impacts them and why, and then use that information to keep their progress moving forward. Mindfulness and humility also go hand in hand; you cannot be mindful if you’re sure that you know all of the answers.

What is strength?

I used to think that people who are strong are simply those who spent more time training or displayed more willpower. The reality, however, is that different people need different characteristics for their own personal transformation.

An athlete with elite genetics, for example, might simply need to develop dedication and consistency. For someone like that, almost anything will work as long as he puts in enough time and dedication. But a former fat kid could not have been successful without developing mindfulness and self-compassion.

And that’s the beautiful thing about strength; it’s a manifestation of one’s inner qualities, each person needing their own special combination to translate those qualities into something visible and powerful.

An individual’s strength is a story about their personal growth.

And many times, that story isn’t about the harder qualities like pushing through pain. Instead, it’s often a reflection of mindfulness, openness to new experiences, self-compassion, and the ability to forgive yourself for being human.

So, train safe and for the long-term!

One comment
  1. iamhewho

    March 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    i beleive diet to be one of the most important things for longevity in this , check out my new vid please see what ya thinks, i plan on doing this for life , good blog thanks . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svD2fVysxS0


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