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Should I Do Parkour In Gloves?

The brief answer: No. The real answer: No, but there are exceptions.

These are the reasons why you shouldn’t wear gloves while doing parkour, plus an explanation of why it may sometimes be okay to wear them. Continue Reading →

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Music You Should Never Use

Music is an important part of any showreel. When the audio fits the visuals, it can vastly enhance the viewing experience. When the music doesn’t fit… the opposite happens.

And sometimes the music fits the movements, but the song is inappropriate because it’s…

  • overused
  • associated with a more popular video
  • overused because of that association

Why is this a bad thing?

Copying the music from a popular video is a simple, quick way to add excitement to your own showreel. But! Realize that viewers will probably have already seen that popular video – and when they hear the music start to play, their minds will drift over to that video, instead of staying focused on yours. Originality is key to an interesting video. With that in mind, here are a few of the most notable songs you need to avoid. Continue Reading →

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Tie Your Shoes Better

Untied KO's

Baggy Pants

And if you don't care about untied shoes, you probably look like this.

Ever found your shoes coming untied during a run? Of course you have. Who hasn’t?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably muttered some curses under your breath and retied your shoes with a double knot. Which will absolutely REFUSE to come undone at the end of the day. Of course, you could use cornstarch to get it off easier… Or you could use this method and keep your shoes tied.

It’s simple: Instead of looping around one time during the middle of the knot, loop around twice. This video demonstrates better than I can explain.

It’s a good method, but it does have two flaws.

  • One of the laces will be pretty loose. It makes me uncomfortable, but since they stay tied well enough, it’s okay.
  • It takes a long time to tie. Sometimes the knot will come out perfectly, other times you have to tie it and retie it and retie it until the two lengths are even. It’s a bit of a pain.

It’s also good if you have shortish laces, because it only takes up an extra inch or so of lace.

KO normal knot

The normal knot.

KO modified knot

The modified knot.

Not a lot of difference in length, but just enough to (usually) keep the tips of your laces from dragging on the ground.

–Alan

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The Once and Future Way to Run

The Once and Future Way to Run

This is a fascinating article on barefoot running, written by Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run. Click the link above to see all 5 pages.

One of the things that strikes me most is this:

Back in the ’60s, Americans “ran way more and way faster in the thinnest little shoes, and we never got hurt,” Amby Burfoot, a longtime Runner’s World editor and former Boston Marathon champion, said during a talk before the Lehigh Valley Half-Marathon I attended last year. “I never even remember talking about injuries back then,” Burfoot said. “So you’ve got to wonder what’s changed.”

Bob Anderson knows at least one thing changed, because he watched it happen. As a high-school senior in 1966, he started Distance Running News, a twice-yearly magazine whose growth was so great that Anderson dropped out of college four years later to publish it full time as Runner’s World. Around then, another fledgling operation called Blue Ribbon Sports was pioneering cushioned running shoes; it became Nike. Together, the magazine and its biggest advertiser rode the running boom — until Anderson decided to see whether the shoes really worked.

“Some consumer advocate needed to test this stuff,” Anderson told me. He hired Peter Cavanagh, of the Penn State University biomechanics lab, to stress-test new products mechanically. “We tore the shoes apart,” Anderson says. He then graded shoes on a scale from zero to five stars and listed them from worst to first.

When a few of Nike’s shoes didn’t fare so well in the 1981 reviews, the company pulled its $1 million advertising contract with Runner’s World. Nike already had started its own magazine, Running, which would publish shoe reviews and commission star writers like Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson.

“Nike would never advertise with me again,” Anderson says. “That hurt us bad.” In 1985, Anderson sold Runner’s World to Rodale, which, he says, promptly abolished his grading system. Today, every shoe in Runner’s World is effectively “recommended” for one kind of runner or another. David Willey, the magazine’s current editor, says that it only tests shoes that “are worth our while.” After Nike closed its magazine, it took its advertising back to Runner’s World. (Megan Saalfeld, a Nike spokeswoman, says she was unable to find someone to comment about this episode.)

“It’s a grading system where you can only get an A,” says Anderson, who went on to become the founder and chief executive of Ujena Swimwear.

Just as the shoe reviews were changing, so were the shoes: fear, the greatest of marketing tools, entered the game. Instead of being sold as performance accessories, running shoes were rebranded as safety items, like bike helmets and smoke alarms. Consumers were told they’d get hurt, perhaps for life, if they didn’t buy the “right” shoes. It was an audacious move that flew in the face of several biological truths: humans had thrived as running animals for two million years without corrective shoes, and asphalt was no harder than the traditional hunting terrains of the African savanna.

In 1985, Benno Nigg, founder and currently co-director of the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Lab, floated the notion that impact and rear-foot motion (called pronation) were dangerous. His work helped spur an arms race of experimental technology to counter those risks with plush heels and wedged shoes. Running magazines spread the new gospel. To this day, Runner’s World tells beginners that their first workout should be opening their wallets: “Go to a specialty running store . . . you’ll leave with a comfortable pair of shoes that will have you running pain- and injury-free.”

[emphasis mine]

Wow, the issue of heel-strike running makes so much more sense now. Why else would people start wearing expensive padded shoes, unless there was some societal pressure for it? I also find it somewhat ironic that people used to wear thin, cheap shoes for running, then they transferred to thick, expensive ones, now we’re going to thin, expensive ones. Amusing.

The 100-Up method sounds like it would absolutely work for barefoot running practice.

The only way to halt the running-injury epidemic, it seems, is to find a simple, foolproof method to relearn what the Tarahumara [a Mexican tribe that does 100-mile races into their geriatric years] never forgot. A one best way to the one best way.

Earlier this year, I may have found it. I was leafing through the back of an out-of-print book, a collection of runners’ biographies called “The Five Kings of Distance,” when I came across a three-page essay from 1908 titled “W. G. George’s Own Account From the 100-Up Exercise.” According to legend, this single drill turned a 16-year-old with almost no running experience into the foremost racer of his day.

I read George’s words: “By its constant practice and regular use alone, I have myself established many records on the running path and won more amateur track-championships than any other individual.” And it was safe, George said: the 100-Up is “incapable of harm when practiced discreetly.”

[...]

I snapped a twig and dropped the halves on the ground about eight inches apart to form targets for my landings. The 100-Up consists of two parts. For the “Minor,” you stand with both feet on the targets and your arms cocked in running position. “Now raise one knee to the height of the hip,” George writes, “bring the foot back and down again to its original position, touching the line lightly with the ball of the foot, and repeat with the other leg.”

That’s all there is to it. But it’s not so easy to hit your marks 100 times in a row while maintaining balance and proper knee height. Once you can, it’s on to the Major: “The body must be balanced on the ball of the foot, the heels being clear of the ground and the head and body being tilted very slightly forward. . . . Now, spring from the toe, bringing the knee to the level of the hip. . . . Repeat with the other leg and continue raising and lowering the legs alternately. This action is exactly that of running.”

Repetition, progression, speed, silence — sounds like it fits right in with parkour.

Article and image credit go to the New York Times

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Check Your Take-offs

It's exactly as high as it looks.

Everybody knows to check their landings. But do you check your take-offs? This message was driven into my butt head rather firmly yesterday, when I set up a stump for highish front flips and forgot to make sure it was stable. Ran up to it, jumped on the wobbly part, and started tucking. But because I launched from an unstable place, my tuck immediately fell apart. Predictably, I landed on my butt. It’s a good thing I was doing the jump over soft grass and dirt, because I probably would have broken my tailbone if it had happened on concrete.

Check your take-offs and landings. Interrupted flow is better than interrupted training because of an injury.

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Everything You Do Is Practice, Until It Isn’t

This is an excellent article from Lifehacker on practice/training.

 

Practice

If you ask anyone with any level of success to share their secret (and they’re convinced they have one), they’ll tell you what they did in the broadest of terms as if it could apply to anyone. In reality it doesn’t come down to what you do, necessarily, but to your attitude about your actions. The one common thread in every success story is perseverance, and that it was achieved by seeing every attempt as a step forward—as practice.

 

“Practice is everything. This is often misquoted as Practice makes perfect.”

~ Periander

Everything you do is practice until it isn’t. If you look at each action any other way, you’re not only setting unreasonable expectations of yourself but you’re assuming you can predict an unpredictable outcome. Believing that a single project will equal success is too speculative. When a hit song tops the charts, a book becomes a best-seller, and new web app grows to unimaginable heights of popularity, it’s easy to see that occurrence in an instant and ignore everything that preceded it. Everything is practice up until that moment the goal has been reached—the moment something works—and you can give your work another name.

“Success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right the first time.”

Tim Harford, author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

When potty-training a child, there is a lot of practice involved. Listening to your body and going to the bathroom at the right time is a fairly simple thing once you’ve gotten the hang of it, but like anything new it takes practice. Whether you’re the trainer or the trainee, patience and practice are vital. We become so accustomed to the world by the time we’re grown, however, that we can manage to forget that even something familiar can take time and effort to do well. Sometimes you have to let the goal sit far off in the future and just do what you want to do for the sake of learning. Failure is okay, and even good under the right circumstances, but if your goal is to try and become better the outcome becomes irrelevant. There’s always something to learn from an experiment.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” ~ Yogi Berra

Where success comes from isn’t something anyone can tell you because nobody’s method takes who you are and what matters to you into account. What you can do is endlessly experiment, and a day should come when practice turns into expertise.

Photo by Vlue (Shutterstock)

via Lifehacker

I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and being pretty surprised at its message. The basic premise is that to be very successful at something, you need a lot of practice. 10,000 hours. Sounds like a lot, but the examples he gives are pretty convincing — Bill Gates, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Beatles.

More relevant to our discipline, the traceurs widely regarded as the most capable are those with the most experience and training. David Belle himself started his parkour journey when he was 15, though he had always been extremely active as a child. Chase Armitage started at 15. Michael Wilson started at 11. Sébastien Foucan started at 12. Jason Paul started at 15. Tim Shieff’s been breakdancing since he was 14. Ryan Doyle started when he was 15. Oleg Vorslav started at 13. Michael Turner has been training since he was 15. Ben Jenkin started when he was 13. Need I go on?

Now that all of them are 20+, they’ve got the 10,000 hours of training under their belt. Result? Mastery of their discipline.

All of this should be pretty obvious by theory, but it’s worth the time to take a look at the hard proof.

Takeaway

You need to train more. Maybe you weren’t able to start as early as anyone mentioned above; well, then you have to work harder to get in more hours of training.

So go do ten push-ups. Now.

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