I'm not here to talk about how you should get environmentally friendly clothing to train in or how to lessen your carbon emissions while training (of course, everyone is already doing their part... right?). I'm here to talk about escaping from the concrete jungle and training in our natural habitat: the greens.

Woods and forests might sound a little pansy to many traceurs - people thinking along the lines of: "where are the nice gaps? What about all the railings? Show me some walls and levels!" - but I have a few things from my own experience for you to consider.

It feels so much better. There is something about escaping from the monotonous grays of the typical cities. Training parkour, in a philosophical sense, hosts a fundamental interest involving your interaction with the surrounding environment. Ask yourself right now, which is going to feel better: concrete corners or wooden branches; pavement or soil; scraped knees or muddy shoes.

Okay, so maybe you aren't entirely for the aesthetics of training. Maybe this whole 'it feels so good' talk isn't what turns you on. Well let's look at the physical and mental aspects of training then. Consider adaptation.

Everyone has to admit that there is a fair degree of repetition in a cityscape. Eventually it seems as if most of the 'new' structures you come across in your travels are far from new, the seem like they are just replicas of other training environments. What degree of adaptation is available to you in these circumstances? I'm not saying that you cannot find new things to adapt to, but rather that they become limited in scope. It is all so familiar.

Now consider a new forest or wooded area. Each one is almost entirely unique in structure. Each arrangement of trees and rocks and creeks and brush opens up a new opportunity. It could be argued that the variation in the placing of these things in a forest equals that of a city or other populated area and therefore there is just as much possibility for adaptation in each location. I note this. But I disagree. Having trained in both areas I find that there is more ability to train your mind to cope with adaptation in a forest than in a city block. Really though it is up to you to decide which is your stance.

I speak of adaptability training in a forest or green area, but how do you go about doing it? I have one favourite drill/exercise for this, and it is very easy. You run, and you run fast. Pick out a starting spot and just run as straight and as fast as you can. You'll find yourself thinking quickly to overcome those upcoming obstacles: watching your footing, deciding in a split second whether to vault or roll under a fallen tree, how to most efficiently get through a tight knit section of trees and branches. This kind of training works both the mental and technical aspect of your training as well as testing your physical ability and endurance. This training is difficult to replicate in a city because of the way that cities are partitioned and segregated in blocks and areas. It's hard to find a location where you can just run for awhile with obstacles that constantly pop up without having to seach or aim for them.

So we've looked really quickly at two of the three main areas of parkour (technical, and the mental or 'spiritual' if you will) and we are left to consider physical training, that is to say simply the brutalic weight lifting and such exercises.

If you have never heard of the MovNat training program, I suggest you give it a look. At the bottom of this post is a teaser video of the training program. MovNat is based on Georges Hebert's La Methode Naturelle training concepts and emphasizes training the seven main calisthenic (body weight) movements in natural settings. This type of training can be easily done in a forest or wooded area. For weights you have rocks and fallen trees whose forms are irregular and help train stabilizing muscles. If you want to train more along the lines of simple calisthenics such as push-ups and pull-ups, it is just as easy to vary difficulty. Consider pull-ups on a wider branch to work the forearms more, elevated push-ups on soft soil, or sprinting up a steep slope.

I think that green training is absolutely great. It is way more enjoyable and at the same time demanding in my eyes. However I recognize that this article will not cause traceurs to immediately jump up and down in anticipation to train out in the wilderness (and that some may not have access to such resources). All I ask is that if you have the opportunity, give it a try. Don't take my word on it: never take my word on anything as the absolute truth. Just get out there and try it for yourself - see how it feels.

(Recognize any of those movements?)

6 comments and questions

  1. Kivalo // 25/6/09 17:20  

    This is a great article. I live in a semi-rural area of Michigan, and there are many more parks here than cityscapes. Trail running is already fun (and sometimes difficult) enough, so when there are trees and rocks and streams around, incorporating parkour is great. I don't know if you remember my post about training with boots on the "Parkour shoes" article page, but when training outside in unstable soil with mud and water and who knows what; waterproof and ankle support is a must (for me at least). Once again, great article! I agree about the benefits of "green training" : )

  2. Nate // 30/12/09 15:48  

    Newb N8

    i'm really new to parkour live in southeast Wisconsin and live in the country and find it difficult to get out to a cityscape. But after reading this realized that I've been done parkour for years which is a huge confidence boost in my abilities. Thank you for that article.

  3. Anonymous // 7/1/10 13:26  

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  5. Nahuel // 5/11/10 22:52  

    Very interesting post! I really liked it! Next time I go to the forest of Argentina I'll try to train green!

  6. Anonymous // 6/2/11 07:12  

    Why there are so many comments in this blog?