This is a topic of which I had previously thought very little. I see athletes of all different disciplines perform amazing feats like scoring a game-winning goal, or getting a hole-in-one or, in the case of parkour, jumping from building to building, but I rarely think of the training and conditioning that made those actions possible.
In my last post about the West Coast Parkour Championships, I mentioned that my boyfriend had placed in both the speed and skill qualifying competitions in Calgary, and would be moving on to compete in the finals in California. With registration completed, and flights and hotel booked, he traveled down to California and had the opportunity to train with some incredible athletes. Unfortunately, during one of those training sessions before the competition, he injured his heel, and made the decision not to compete this year.
A key element of being an athlete is knowing one’s limits. This isn’t to say that I discourage aiming higher or striving to do better, but when it comes to safety and overall health, it’s important to know when to stop pushing yourself and instead take time to recover.
Parkour is often thought of as a reckless pursuit, largely because the stories that garner the most media coverage feature videos of daredevil athletes tackling lines that would be considered dangerous even to the most seasoned trainers. That being said, parkour, like any discipline, can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken, or if it is not being trained the way it was intended to be. If a trainer is careless or attempts something beyond their capabilities, the likelihood of injury increases dramatically, with unknown prognosis.
While I can understand that he would be disappointed, I am grateful that he knows himself well enough to know when to back off and give his body time to rest and recover. The only potential “gain” of pushing oneself too far to compete is another and possibly more serious injury that could have long-term consequences for training.
So, best advice is to take some time to really get in touch with what the body can achieve and set realistic goals that can be met over time and through appropriate training and conditioning. Parkour is not about anyone other than the trainer themselves and the physical and psychological exploration of limits, but safety is paramount and should always be at the forefront of a trainer’s mind.
Until next time, remember the wise words of David Belle: “Train not to get something right; train so that you can never get it wrong.”