What Is Involved in Free Running Training?

Dan Cavallari

Free running is a type of activity that involves navigating through urban areas quickly and efficiently, sometimes by running and in other cases by jumping, balancing, walking, or ricocheting. It is a very similar activity to parkour, but free running is more focused on aesthetic movements. Free running training can involve several activities focused on improving strength, speed, durability, and balance. One of the most important aspects of free running training is learning how to jump and land properly without injuring the feet, legs, or any other part of the body.

Without proper training and preparation, free running can result in injury.
Without proper training and preparation, free running can result in injury.

General fitness will be necessary, so free running training may involve cardiovascular exercise as well as strength training. The feet, legs, and core muscles are particularly important, so training will often involve strength training of these muscles. Proper stretching will also be required to ensure muscles are loose and healthy. This will help prevent injury and increase mobility, which is essential to successful free running. Many of the moves a free runner will perform will require flexibility and mobility, and while strength training will certainly help build muscles, mobility exercises will help ensure the body is prepared for strenuous and repeated movements.

Strength training and conditioning is crucial for athletes who wish to perform the intense acrobatics of parkour.
Strength training and conditioning is crucial for athletes who wish to perform the intense acrobatics of parkour.

Plyometric exercises are vital to free running training. Such exercises, sometimes called explosiveness exercises, help the free runner develop the strength to perform strong, thrusting movements very often used in free running activities. Medicine ball workouts can help improve explosiveness, as can exercise band exercises or even certain weight training exercises. Plyometrics must be done correctly to avoid injury; it is advisable to do such exercises under the tutelage of an experienced trainer.

Free running involves certain acrobatic elements that can only be taught by other free runners. Balance is exceptionally important, so slackline training is often useful for developing the appropriate skills. A slackline is a rope that is strung up between two solid posts or trees. The user will then stand on the rope at one end and try to walk across the rope to the other end. This is an extremely difficult exercise, and the rope should only be set a few feet off the ground to prevent serious falls. It helps to set the line up over a cushion of some sort. The rope itself must be designed to hold the weight of the human body; a rock climbing or rappelling rope is the most appropriate choice.

Free running training may include exercises to improve balance.
Free running training may include exercises to improve balance.

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