Train with someone your own Size by Amy Han

It’s a catchy title, but when I say ‘size’ I really mean ‘size and/or ability’. And even that should come with a ‘vaguely’. Really, this post is about how training with others who are similar in size, strength, and overall ability can inspire you in ways that training with people very different from yourself often can’t.

Last week, I took my dog Nala to the off-leash park, where we found a group of other dogs to play with. Nala, being a friendly 10-month old golden retriever, is happy to play with anyone, anywhere, and she was running around with them all right away. But most of those other dogs were cattle dogs – kelpies, blue heelers, border collies – or as I like to call them, ‘rockets’. Nala tried her hardest to keep up, but even her sprint wasn’t half as fast as the others. Not that this stopped her having the best morning of her life (every morning, if a park is included, is the best morning of her life).

It reminded me of training sprints with the other Melbourne parkour instructors. When the others took off I felt just like Nala, running as hard as I could but still being left in a cloud of dust. And just like Nala, it didn’t bother me at all. Why? I guess, if I am training with a group of guys who seem to do everything more powerfully than I do, in the spirit of parkour, I don’t compare myself to them. I shouldn’t, right? We are all built differently, and besides – just because I can’t run that fast doesn’t mean I don’t run faster than I used to, before I started training. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come, and being ‘left behind’ doesn’t – and shouldn’t – take away from that.

The downside of all this is that the friends I train with, no matter how helpful and encouraging they are, don’t raise my bar higher because I don’t think I could ever do what they can do, in the way they do it. To me, they are never moving my bar but a different bar altogether. As a result, I comfortably meander along at my own pace.

905976_10153252691144225_8300892190765101066_oThis post is a little about the differences, for a girl, between training with girls and guys. But mostly it is about training with people you feel work with the same bar that you do. If you are struggling with a climb up and your friend who is the same height as you is managing it, you’ll push harder because hey, if she/he can, you can, even if you have to work harder and longer at it, and perhaps work out a different way to overcome it altogether.

 

Train with people who do things you can’t do (yet). Train with people who struggle to do things you can do. Train with people who inspire you, who can help you, who you can help. Train with a variety of people, for a well-rounded perspective on what you can do, how far you’ve come, and how far you can still go. Perhaps this is something you already do. I guess I just wrote this because a park visit with Nala reminded me that while I still have fun running with ‘rockets’, it’s fun to run beside somebody too.

Amy Han is a traceuse and instructor with Melbourne Parkour. She is also the author of YA novel Breaking Jumps. www.amyhan.com.au

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