Monday, March 03, 2008

Balancing to Failure

Since I trained my legs hard on Saturday and my arms were still recovering from a previous training session, I decided to have a few hours of easy training yesterday and work on my balance. I found a nice long rail a little over waist height and decided this would make a good training tool for today.

My original plan was just to walk along the rail, turn to one side, crouch down, hold my arms out straight to the front for 5 seconds, then clasped behind my back for 5 seconds, stand back up and walk back. I found myself enjoying this and didn't feel ready to drop off when I reached the start again so I kept going, repeating the same walking, turning, crouching, standing, turning, walking process each time.

I wanted to find out how long it would take me to fall off the rail so I kept going.

The length of the rail was 144 of my feet, heel to toe and since my feet are 27cm long I later found out the rail was 38.88m long.

After 35 lengths I fell off, it was during one of the crouches I lost balance and dropped backwards to my feet. I was quite disappointed as it seemed careless and a lapse in concentration. I decided I would keep going to 50 lengths and do one additional barefooted length for every time I fell off since the rail was very cold and it seemed a small incentive not to fall off again.

I fell off again during a crouch around the 46-47th length and I can't put my finger on what I did differently which is frustrating, if I knew what I did wrong then I could fix it, but it just suddenly happened.

The other strange thing that I noticed with my focus on the rail for so long and an out of focus ground below it, is that after half a mile or so my vision was affected. When I would reach the end of the rail and crouch, turning to the side and looking ahead, the ground would appear to warp and ripple in waves!
This was very strange to me and didn't seem to affect performance but it was quite surreal and interesting to note that after enough time balancing my vision will be temporarily affected. It didn't last very long and settled down quickly but for the first few seconds of each crouch the ground was moving like the sea. I imagine it's just confusing to the brain for the eyes to focus on a rail moving backwards and the ground below out of focus doing the same.

After 50 lengths I jumped off the rail and removed my shoes and socks and repeated the walk up and down once again for the 2 falls, it felt nice and fresh and I noticed it was easier barefooted, your feet can grab the rail and wrap around it slightly.

To sum up:

Distance walked before first fall - 1360.8 meters.
Distance walked before second fall - 1788.48 meters.
Distance walked between the falls - 427.68 meters.
Total time crouched with arms straight out in front - 4.3 minutes.
Total time crouched on rail with hands clasped behind my back - 4.3 minutes.
Total distance walked - 2,021.76 meters // 1.26 miles.

This is by far the longest distance I've walked on a rail in one session and it was good training. My goal for next time is to do the 50 lengths barefooted without falling off once - and if I do I will start again from 0.

I felt as though I could have continued longer too, there was no strain felt on my body. Maybe I will build up to 100 lengths in one go or start doing them sideways, crouched, backwards etc.

The reason for this entry is just to highlight that after a while (hours) of balancing, it might affect your vision. If you give it a try it then let me know what you find!



Anonymous said...

What, like a GIANT?!

TraceurZeno said...

Yes the vision warp happens to me all the time after a short space of time. Like a moving warped line on the ground or sky, depending where you look after your balancing.

Here are some other balancing ideas...
* Do the balancing backwards
* Walk along the rails with hands behind back (although I think you where doing that)
* Try taking longer foot strides.
* Try doing it in the rain.
* Try walking in side steps feet crossing over.
* Try walking side steps but shuffling rather than cross over.
* And lastly if your are comfortable enough, and it can be dangerous, is doing walking with your beanie pulled down over your eyes.

As you can see I am a little obscessed with balancing on rails. I will try out your idea of yours, with the 30 to 50 continueous reps, and a forfeit should i fall off. (bare foot does sound good)!

Thanks for sharing bro!


Anonymous said...

haha I had a similar experience when I did a 1km non stop balance a while ago.

I went telling my friends about my balancing odyssey, I experienced all the warping sensations and such both towards the end of the balancing and as I walked home.

Admittedly this was in the warm weather and I may have got a little dehydrated so that could've been a factor also.


Anonymous said...

haha, i had the same vison, with the waves in the concrete- i was pretty scared :D

bushina said...

This thing with the vision is nothing . Or you can say it`s everything? Depending on your understanding of how things work.

As far as i know this is a technique to actually see the enrgy field of objects. While balancing one is bond to follow the pace of his own body. This will regulate all the energy prosesses in it, so take it like a bonus from the universe :) You`re able to see what is really there, because you have dissiplined your mind ... Balance is the only thing from parkour that actually gives energy instead of wasting it. Natural healers from the east have mastered this ability and with it and some other techniques to manipulate energy, they can actually heal someone, totaly and completely.

To enchance this and make it into a controled concentration technique. I suggest two things.
1st is a technique you can make with your fingers and your eyes, put your thumbs infront of your eyes or stare at them from above, no other situation of the 2 are aceptable. Distance between the fingers and the eyes should be the lenght of your palm. Here is where you start working ---> combine the 2 thumbs in 1 by changing your focus mainly looking between them. It`s possible to see 4 fingers instead of 1 but this is not the technique.

2nd suggestion. Move your eyes slightly above the horizont and then move them to each side (left eye- left side; and so on). This will distort your entire vision, and you will be able to see everything yet, not focus anything.
If you learn to do this the real things will apear.

This technique is also the secret of the fighting schools, they use it to determine what move will the enemy use, because their intention is energy and it moves before the actual movement is done.

Did i confused you enough? :)
Excuse my english and good luck!

tipico tipo c said...

i can do that with my vision anytime i want, is just lost the focus of the vision.

sorry im bad in english :P

Anonymous said...

Chris, this "warp vision" thing is very normal. It normally appears after 10-20 seconds of rail-focused balancing already, no need for miles :)

its the same as when you sit in the train, and look outside the window, then train stops in the station, and you FEEL the train is moving backwards, when it isnt.

i have a long article about this thing in german but its too long to translate lol.

andi from austria

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Thanks for the replies guys, this is only the second time this has happened to me and I balance a LOT!

It seems to take a lot longer than 10-20 seconds for my eyes to go funny like this though... only after 15-20 minutes did it seems bother me.

Cheers for those other exercises Zeno, I regularly practice the majority of those but I've not tried the last one! I enjoy balancing in the dark but I've not tried it blindfolded. :-)


Anonymous said...

I find if I "get in the zone" my focus is completely on the rail and the ground below seems to blur out, especially after balance for a long time.

If I jump off I usually see a negative of the rail wherever I look. Fades away after a while.

Quite weird I must say.


Something from Nothing said...

I get the warped vision thing after a short period of deep concentration.

Would have pretty much said what Zeno said so yeah really.. lol

safe journeys.


Anonymous said...

'concentration' ....its the drugs guys ;)

to blane, although we have not met and probably wont for a good while, i enjoy reading your blogs and such. its nice hearing from you, seems like your a friend haha, i assume its the way you write....or...its the drugs aswell hahaha

Unknown said...

HI blane, i am from Brazil, I´m 18 years old and i dont speak english too good =), but its really interesting this thing you said about Balancing to Failure, i will try do that today i think, and later come here and say what happens, and i come to say another thing, before I started Parkour (September/2006), I always see your videos and things you said, always helped and help me alot, you always be a inspiration to me, and I dream to someday I can go there and make a training with you, ty for share your expirence with us, if u have MSN and can say to me, will be very good talk too u about Parkour and others things, and sorry about english words, not to good with it lol.

Rowww Rodrigues

Unknown said...

Hey again, so i trained make 1 hour, was rainning and i stay for 1 hour doing balance on a wet rail, was very hard and i fell alot of times, but later doing that for 1 hour I tried to do everything again with eyes closed, and when I closed my eyes I saw a black line on the midle of my vision, and for the first time, was easy to balance with eyes closed, and helped me alot, so that was my experience training in rainning and doing balance on a rail, staying crouch, one foot, side, 1 foot side, 1 foot crouch, up , up in 1 foot, and all this again with eyes closed, and what I can say is that helped me alot, and when I will do it again in dry rail will be more easy i think =), bye man

Unknown said...

Hey man, it's been a long time. FYI this is the guy from Gretna NE. Well anyway, i have made drastic improvements, but currently having issues with back,some leg, and tricep strength. but im working on it, i have a question though, i am having a killer time getting a really good workout on my abs, and they don't really show at all, any suggestions?
By the way awesome on your balancing, and it's not only you, i had issues with the rippling vision too when i went too long focusing on the beam.

joe said...

"and since my feet are 27cm long I later found out the rail was 38.88m long."... LOL

yeah ive had that sort of vision on rails before, although it gets really bad after a while and my eyes start to water and stuff.

good luck with your next challenge,

Sandu Iulian said...

I have to try this . I didn't got to a failure point but the thing is that i never tried it . We shall see ..good to know about the waves effect

Alice said...

haha, you "try to do a little" parkour yourself? i've just watched your videos.. you seem to be more than just a casual traceur :-) i'm v impressed..

Anonymous said...

Yeah man my eyes go funny too, I don't even need to be doing it for long at all maybe 8 meters or so and I can't " focus" on anything other then the rail, and if I try to I loose balance!

so I just have to stare at the rail as I walk, happened earlier on a very very high rail I was not pleased XD

kept going though :)

Anonymous said...

well… i visit your website first time and found this site very usefull and intresting !

well… you guys doing nice work and i just want to say that keep rocking and keep it up !!!!


Luc from Canada again, eh? said...

Damn, that's a long way to walk on a rail! Discipline & focus, respect!

I can relate to the ground seeming to transform into a rippling, pulsating viscous-type-surface.
There is a 800m stretch of road in my area that is bordered on one side by a concrete barrier, roughly waist height and somewhere between 5 and 10cm wide (so obviously it's easier to balance on than a rail!).
Nonetheless, everytime I get to the end, after having focused on the top of the barrier for so long, the ground in the periphery seems to melt out of focus, becoming that undefined ripply thingy you described.

Someone should do a study on that...

Susheel Chandradhas said...

I seem to have found out why this happens... It is in fact, an optical illusion.

Here is an extract from a page that describes it.

The illusion is an example of the "Motion Aftereffect" phenomenon. Most people have probably experienced the motion aftereffect without knowing that there is a name for it. I remember a hike my brother and I took to the bottom of the Grand Canyon after a night of too-little sleep. Every time we stopped walking, it seemed that everything I looked at was receding from me.

I found it at this URL

do check it out...

But Seriously... Respect to you all, for your dedication...

Michail said...

hi Blane,

I'm from Germany, and I'm really enjoying reading your posts.
You have inspired me to write my own blog, thanks. And today you have inspired me to do a similar session, like you. I hope it's ok for you, that I have stolen your idea:

Thanks for blogging