Don’t Think, Just Jump

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Don’t Think, Just Jump. Photo by Pete Waterman (whoispete.com)

I just had the best solo training session I’ve had in a long time. It was the same old story… I was exhausted from a long day at work, and I was frustrated because my shoulder’s been injured which has limited my training quite a bit lately. I got home from work and immediately ditched my work dress, jewelry, and ballet flats for a pair of joggers, a sports bra, and my trainers. I felt better already.

I had no food at home and I usually walked through a park on my way to the supermarket, so I decided I’d stop and play for a bit as I went to get some dinner. I grabbed my backpack and headed out the door, putting on my headphones, letting myself get lost in the music and the simple rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement.

The light turned green and I ran across the crosswalk, putting more force into my steps as I neared the other side and went for the running precision from a fat white stripe to the curb in front of me. I felt better with every step.

I ran around the park, forwards, backwards, and side to side, my feet matching the beat as they struck the stone pathway. Lindsey Stirling’s violin-infused electronic beats pulsed through me as I went skipping, dancing, and spinning in circles along the stone walls, walkways and handrails.

I traversed the stone walls throughout the park, tic-tac-ing my way up to another wall, striding the gaps between them, balancing down handrails and leaping to the next wall. Finally, I came to a stop in front of a jump that was just big enough to make me hesitate. I almost got down but I felt that I could do it. I took a deep breath and jumped.

My feet touched down perfectly on the edge as I bent my knees to absorb the impact. I felt triumphant.

I continued my run, nearing the edge of the park where I had recently spotted a jump I wanted to try. This jump is a little far for me, it’s at a weird angle, and it is also a pretty big drop. I knew I’d have to work up to it mentally.

I ran up to the jump and felt strongly that I was capable of doing it, but I wasn’t 100% ready yet. I walked to another end of the same wall where the jump had all of the same obstacles as above, but it was less of a weird angle, making it a little cleaner and shorter.

I stood there, staring down at the wall below me, wondering why I was so afraid. I squatted down. The fear eased up a bit. I stood up. It got scary again. I repeated this exercise over and over again. Finally, I went for it. It was a horrible landing and I had to sort of catch myself with one arm as I landed, but I was glad I did it. Okay, that’s an understatement. I was ecstatic that I did  it. It meant more to me that I had made the attempt than anything else. The next hurdle would be landing it properly.

I started walking away from the park, feeling tired and accomplished for the night, but then I turned around. I wanted to try again.

I went back and repeated that fun stand up-squat-stare at wall-stand up-squat-stare at wall exercise. A stranger walked by and said something to me, pulling me out of my trance. I then felt distracted. I felt off. My thoughts started racing.

Now he’s watching me. I don’t want to have to perform for him.
I feel tired, maybe I’m too tired to try it again.
Maybe that’s just an excuse…?
The Yamakasi never gave up, they kept training. Always be prepared. Tired is never an excuse.
Okay, so I should do it.
But they’ve also said if you don’t feel it, don’t do it. You have to feel the jump to do it right.
Okay, so do I feel it? Or will I hurt myself because I’m tired?

This is what happens when I train alone… Normally, I might have had that conversation with a friend or training buddy, but tonight it was all in my head (don’t hate, you know you do it too). Finally, I decided I wanted to do this for myself. I knew that my body could do it, it was just about the fear. Don’t think, I thought, just jump.

I let myself sit there for a few more seconds as I waited for the line I needed to hear in my new favorite song. Whatever helps, right? The music was slow at first, “…and even though you’re scared, you’re stronger than you know…” then the beat picked up and gave me the last little push I needed as I took off “If you face the fear that keeps you frozen, chase the sky into the ocean, that’s when something wild calls you home…” I soared through the air, landing softly on the balls of my feet. Without hesitation, I transitioned smoothly out of my landing, down onto the sidewalk and jogged off towards the supermarket, a huge smile on my face.

My body knew exactly what it was doing. It was all in my head.

If at first you don’t succeed…

… Try try again. And again… and again… and again…

I was feeling quite slow and heavy but I was determined to go to the gym, especially since I blew it off the day before due to complete exhaustion (and a touch of laziness). I just felt totally sluggish. I decided to try to kick the heaviness with a workout. Sometimes this works, and sometimes I really am just exhausted. I didn’t know which it would be until I got to the gym.

I warmed up a bit, climbing and doing some precision jumps to see how I felt. My heart wasn’t in it. I just felt off.

I decided to work on something that required less effort, something on the soft floor with soft mats. I started with basic vaults and then I finally started to become a person again and naturally transitioned into setting the boxes up so I could work on kong precisions. For my non-parkour people… it’s when you jump over something and land on something else. That’s basically all you need to know. Or you can watch this old tutorial.

I then proceeded to work on this one specific kong pre, which was at a pretty significant distance (for no reason, I could have easily moved it closer) for the next 1.5 hours. No joke. For 90 minutes straight, this was all I did. One after another, after another, after another. I got close a few times. I landed right in front of the block a few times instead of on top of it. I got one foot on, one foot off a few times. I fell on my bum a few times. I kicked the block I was supposed to be landing on across the room a few times. Never once did I execute a perfect precision landing where I wanted to. And I was totally okay with that.

Did I fail? I don’t think so. I got my ass up and went to the gym. Success. I trained for 2 hours. Success. I challenged myself and humbly accepted defeat… for now. I consider that a success. What would be the point of our training if we always landed everything on the first try?

The New Workout Spot

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I’m currently living in Santa Monica, about 2.5 miles away from the beach, which basically means I’m the happiest girl in the world. I love walking/running/cycling down to the beach to get some fresh air, sit and write by the water, or to workout at Muscle Beach. During the week, I don’t have as much time to do this so on the weekends I try to spend as much time as I can down by the water, catching up on my Vitamin D intake and making up for my shorter weekday workouts.

Muscle Beach is definitely my new favorite place to go for a workout. I can train barefoot, cool off in the ocean breeze, play in the sand… oh oops, sorry, I’m supposed to be training. Seriously though, I love it there.

I love to see people skateboarding in their bathing suits and cycling past me with their surfboards in tow, dancing or playing guitar on the beach, and swinging back and forth on the traveling rings, which is my new favorite exercise.

It’s a killer workout and it is so much! it feels like you’re flying when you’re swinging from one ring to the next. When I first started, I felt so awkward and weak but every time I go it feels a little bit smoother.

The only downside of the rings is how my hands feel afterwards. Normally, I don’t use any sort of grips, gloves, or pads when training parkour – we’re too cool for that. Also, as I explained to a rando who asked me, if you’re running away from someone in any kind of real life danger situation, you’re not going to be able to pause to get your grips out before climbing to safety or hanging on for dear life. I know that’s dramatic, but it’s true. I’d rather train with bare hands. It just makes more sense.

That being said, I might cave and buy some grips. Strictly for the rings, I swear! That way I can have a solid workout and stop when my muscles are tired rather than giving up after four or five go’s because my hands feel like they’re going to fall off. I feel like that’s reasonable…

Anyway, this is definitely my new favorite workout spot. Whenever I go, there are always lots of people playing on the bars, monkeying around on the rings, hoola hooping, slacklining, rope-climbing, doing acro-yoga and anything else you can think of. It puts a huge smile on my face every time.