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Let's Go Freestyle!

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If you are like most of the health and fitness community you will be pretty particular about your training, diet and health. Reading and re-reading articles from a whole variety of sources. Many people will have periodised training planners from awesome fitness professionals with training day splits, diets pointers and lots more stretching out for Months. Now, this is all great, you need to have a "business plan" for your body to reach your very particular goals, but have we lost the joy of exercising for the sake of it?

As a (very) ex pro Rugby Union player I have recently found piles and piles of old training sessions and diet plans (had a little read through too - pretty hardcore stuff!). Now I am "free" I still seem to religiously follow plans, there is a kind of comforting warmth of knowing that the piece of paper in your hand is telling you exactly what to do and when to do it. I liken this a little to having a nicely stocked fridge and freezer (as well as a beer/wine rack if that is your persuasion). Can you feel the warmth? Cosy...

So, in a moment of complete madness I made a decision. One day a week I would do an outdoor session at a local park. Sounds reasonable right? Well not when you hear this...I would be doing it with absolutely NO direction at all. A complete blank page.

So early on Sunday morning I headed out, slightly concerned...

I ran on the flat, I ran up hills, I ran down hills, across hills, up steps, I jumped, I pressup'ed, I chin up'ed and I burpee'ed all exactly when I fancied it and when equipment (say a tree) came across my very random path.

Now what I am talking about here is not...

"Right, i'm gonna do 8 hills with 30 seconds rest then 3 x 20 press ups followed by blah blah blah" that was made up in my mind prior to the session or even on the run.

I am talking about running fast WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT, doing press ups WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT and as many of these as you want. No constraints, no preconceptions, just doing exercise "stuff".

I am sure lots of people will be saying "but there is no specificity to your goals" and "how can you have a intense session without a plan". But in truth it was awesome. Free as a bird.

Now to be honest you do need to have ALOT of trust in yourself to get up a good sweat as it is quite easy to say "bugger it I just want to walk/sit down/pick my nose"

Essentially my session went down like this (this is in no way to be copied for obvious reasons...consult your own psychiatrist before undertaking your version)

1. Walked for a bit.
2. Sprinted like an idiot to a lamp post that was x number of meters away - repeated.
3. Jogged for a while.
4. Leapfrogged a wall a few times.
5. Felt like doing some press ups, so did about 15 (not sure - just did them until I wanted to stop)
6. Ran up a hill then back down again.
7. Did 5 dips on a railing then sprinted up loads of steps.

You get the general idea...it continued on this this until I was tired and wanted to stop (about 1hr and 15 mins - not sure - didn't take a watch)

Free from all the constraints of a session plan I had an awesome time and it was weirdly relaxing. I suppose it is very much like free running/parkour (which is amazing by the way and something I would love to do but just a bit out of my athletic scope being 120kg)

The premise behind this session reminded me of the book by Christopher McDougall "Born to run" about Barefoot running (read more here) and in particular the part about the tribe isolated by the most savage terrain in North America - the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons.

This tribe are custodians of a lost art - running. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. The author observed that when watching them run it was apparent that they all had a wide toothy grin from ear to ear while doing it, they were actually outwardly enjoying running (shock horror). Not for any other reason than running because they wanted to without a notepad or pen in sight.

Give it a bash, I actually found that my usual training grimace was replaced with a well earned sweaty grin.

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