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A little while back I wrote a post about how I managed to sustain quite a bad injury during parkour/freerunning practice near Archway, London, UK. Well it put me out of action for about a month. Most frustrating.
Many people suggested I should perhaps try a safer sport, one where I don’t pick up quite so many injuries. Whilst I’m hardly – nor do I want to be – the Six Million Dollar Man, phrases kept floating through my head such as, ‘We can rebuild him. We have the technology.’ Simply put, I was beginning to feel a bit patchwork; a broken toe, stitches in my leg, various ankle sprains.
I then had an epiphany of sorts. Something I touched on in my previous parkour posting. The reason for my injuries was that I was trying to push myself too hard at an extreme sport without enough training. Yes, you can improve to a degree. But it becomes much, much easier if you put in the training. Obvious, but it takes me a while to grasp things. Be nice.
As a result, in the last week or so I’ve stepped up my training. So, if you happen to be in South-West London around Putney, keep an eye out for a guy with a mini backpack haring about the place. That’ll be me. You’ll most likely spot me tightrope walking along railings or attempting precision jumps off pathetically tiny walls. We all start somewhere right?
So I begin my slow and steady progress, building my strength until I can leap around like some sort of cat/monkey/man-child. Also, if you do happen to walk past and see a guy laying on the ground next to a wall screaming in agony. Again, that will be me. Have a heart and help me limp to the nearest hospital. Of course I’m joking. One hospital trip in the name of sport and fitness is more than enough, at least for a few years.
I’ll leave you with a video I found of some young lads training in and around Putney somewhere a few years ago. I’ve no idea who they are but they’re clearly better than me and at least half my age. Let’s finish with a Scooby Doo ending, damn those pesky kids!
Will I ever be any good at parkour/freerunning? I found myself asking this question last night as I sat in a London hospital with – yet another – injury. This time quite a bad one, a deep gash in my shin that needed two stitches.
Let’s rewind for a second. For those not familiar, parkour is essentially a type of movement used to overcome obstacles by way of vaulting, leaping, climbing, rolling etc. It’s done outdoors and – in London – often around housing estates, where there are lots of walls, rails, playgrounds. Ideal places to practice.
Still reading? Well, there’s an organisation called Parkour Generations that do lessons all around London. Well worth a go if you’re looking for a new sport. I realise, from my opening paragraph, I’ve probably completely put off you if you were considering it, apologies! To be honest, you can get injured in so many ways on a day-to-day basis. Crossing the road, preparing dinner etc.
The way I see it, I have no time for the gym, it’s such a static, sterile environment. It’s nice to train your overall body outside, doing something different, challenging, exciting. Injuries are bound to happen in any sport if you’re pushing yourself. You just need to know where your limits are. I was fully aware of mine but ignored the signs, hence the injury.
The video below was taken in the area I was training. None of the guys in the video are me by the way, I am nowhere near their level of skill, but it’s what I aim for. Well, except the flips, I’ll give those a miss!
Plus, these days, parkour has moved much more into the mainstream. No longer a niche, extreme sport, its influence can be seen all over the place, particularly in film over the last few years.
There’s a French film called District 13 which features one of the founders of the sport, David Belle. Well worth a watch if you’ve got the time. Good as a film as well as a showcase for the sport. Also, in Casino Royale there’s a scene featuring Sebastien Foucan, another parkour founding father. Watch the building site chase here, very cool.
So, back to my latest predicament. As I sat there cursing my stupidity at failing to admit my body’s limitations, it occurred to me that – in order to improve – that’s sort of the point. You have to push yourself. Dig deep, double your efforts, whatever it takes really. Cue 80s montage…