Back to training

I'm getting back to training this afternoon. I've been shooting for numbers at different points during the year and keep hitting setbacks (the last time I started, for instance, I was making some awesome progress, but my trainer was fired and I couldn't bring myself to do it on my own).

Typically, having specific, data-driven goals in mind are a great way to go into a program, but I'm not going to do that this time. I'm training for a lifestyle and personality change.

My goal will be to get strong enough to be doing some parkour or free running.

Here is a quick explanation of the difference: Parkour is a mode of foot transport with the goal of getting from Point A to Point B the quickest way possible, without regard to the obstacles in your way. This differs from free running, which is the version that includes flourishes, diversions/detours and fun, without the destination in mind.

So, leaping fences and running across back yards to get to work is parkour; leaping fences and running across back yards to show off (or for exercise) is free running.

Here are some of the things that draw me to this.

Fear. I have a fear of heights. It gets so bad that I have light bulbs that go months without changing until I finally screw up the courage to climb on a chair or a counter to complete the chore. If I can kick that one fear, I bet I wind up with new confidence in other areas I didn't know I was lacking confidence in.

The appearance of improvisation. Sure, there's room for a little ad lib here and there, but for as improvised as free running videos appear, a lot of planning really goes into it. You can even see from the video above that the guys spend a lot of time practicing in one particular spot. You have to really plan your route to free run safely; you have to be familiar with the obstacles, and you have to know if that wall you're planning to jump over drops three feet, fifteen feet or fifty feet.

Performance. That looks pretty cool, doesn't it? Imagine you're sitting outside at a bar downtown and some guy just comes running up, jumps onto the patio divider, runs 30 feet along it and continues on his way around the corner. You would definitely have a "that just happened" moment.

So, what's it going to take? From an arm/shoulder/back strength perspective, I figure I'll need to be able to rattle off sets of 20 chest-to-bar pull-ups and 5 to 10 muscle-ups. I'll need to do a lot of functional training, and I'm guessing that's not going to mean a lot of weights. I enjoy body weight stuff, so that should be good, and just taking a look at some of Sonya's other clients, I might be a fun trainee for her (I hope).

My biggest obstacle is going to be my diet. Most people lose weight in the summer and gain in the winter (which is kind of intuitive), but I'm the opposite. I drink beer and eat wings after softball games all summer; we might burn through 75 or 100 pounds of charcoal, all with a beer in my hand. Come winter, I tend to eat cleaner and if I'm drinking alcohol, it's typically a dry red wine (high antioxidants) or sipping liquor (smaller quantities than I would beer in the summer).

And since you can't out-train a bad diet, I'm going to either have to make some difficult changes to my eating or I'm going to have to get strong enough to do some of those exercises with the extra weight on me, which means training longer and harder.

Beginning today, I'll be training Monday and Friday afternoons. So looking forward to it!