Training in Winter

parkour in snow*

I have started training parkour some time ago. It made me not only 200% healthier over the recent years – I feel 10 years younger by now. Parkour also inspired me in other areas of life.

I’ve already coined a new term for a positive SEO technique that I call “Google Parkour” which basically means helping your “competitors” by linking out to them and ultimately getting traffic from them.

It doesn’t work completely as imagined but it works to some extent. It works in a different manner than I actually expected or planned.


What is parkour an why does it matter?

Today I don’t want to talk about Google Parkour and positive SEO techniques though. Today I want to use parkour for another allegory.

Yes, I can use metaphors for headlines here on my blog because I don’t optimize it for Google anymore.

Yeah, that’s freedom. Thus I don’t care whether the headline is off topic for Google. For me it’s very relevant. It will also make sense for you. Just read it all to the end.

We have winter here in Germany for a few months. In case you live somewhere in the south like Florida remember that it’s often cold here. It’s significantly colder compared to summer.

Most typical winters are pretty moderate though. It’s not colder than around -5° Celsius most of the time which is perfect for a winter.

We have some snow occasionally during a perfectly average winter like I remember it from my childhood in Poland.

In Berlin where I live now it’s colder than average but some winters were even tougher than that with -10 to -20 degrees. Again – the local winter is pretty moderate.

I don’t want you to bore with our weather reports though. As you might imagine parkour is best when trained outside.

People jog a lot around here in my area but besides me almost nobody practices parkour.

Running in winter on snow, ice or sludge is not easy. You can slip. Parkour is not only running. It’s also

  1. balancing
  2. jumping
  3. vaulting
  4. climbing

etc. You move over obstacles as efficiently and elegantly as possible. You are quick and impressive when you do it right.

Anything that stands in your way can get overcome, be it

  • rails
  • walls
  • trees

or anything else that usually restricts your movement in an urban or rural area. The motto is: just get over it! Sometimes you also move below or through the obstacle.

When you are really well trained you are almost unstoppable. The world becomes a playground and anything becomes possible. You almost fly compared to simple walking.


Google is like a gym

The exact opposite of parkour is training in a gym. There is no fresh air and unlimited possibilities. You can’t see the sun or touch the grass.

You have to pay to even enter the gym. A gym is crowded in most cases and you only feel safe there because you fool yourself.

Injuries happen in a safe gym environment as well. They are even more likely to happen when you forget that gravity can break you even inside.

  • You have to change your clothes, wear special shoes and everybody looks at you.
  • The trainers watch your moves and tell you when you do something wrong so that you don’t hurt yourself.
  • The other guys in the gym who like Schwarzenegger in his youth look down upon you while pushing incredible weights.
  • The well-trained girls and women flaunt their sexy bodies around in lycra so you get distracted.
  • The windows are closed, it’s stuffy and it smells of sweat so that you don’t get enough oxygen while you are trying hard to move these weird machines or you run on a treadmill without moving forward.

The same applies to Google optimization. When you try to please Google limitations abound. You can’t simply do what you want and what’s good for your visitors.

It’s not another “what x taught me about SEO” post though. This is a post about letting go of the Google shackles again.

Do you remember the days before Google? When nobody used to tell you how your website has to be built? When nobody “penalized” you because you put up a link or paid for an ad?

Don’t you wonder why Google doesn’t use the word penalty anymore? I guess it’s because the word sounds like “penis”. Google f*cks webmasters over.

Now they prefer to say “manual action” in some cases, in other cases they don’t even call it a “hand job” anymore.

I have been training in gyms for quite a while when I was younger.

Summed up it was probably roughly a year and a half. I even ate or rather drank protein powder to gain muscle. Before that I sucked at sports for years.


The weak teen struggling to look healthy

A a teen I got sick for several weeks. My body was quite ruined afterwards after taking antibiotics and lying around in bed for so long. I lost like half of my weight.

Before I was slightly obese as far as I remember but afterwards I was so thin that I still looked sick after fully recovering.

Finally years later training at the gym made look normal again. I wasn’t able to build more body mass an muscle beyond the “normal” though.

I got disillusioned my training in gyms for many of the reasons listed above but also for the lack of visible progress.

The main problem about training in a gym is that it’s not fun.

In a gym you train

  • to get fit
  • to lose weight
  • to gain muscle
  • to look better
  • to show off

your physique. Well, there is nothing wrong with training for all these reasons. On the other hand they

  • are just goals not reasons
  • do not motivate you intrinsically.
  • just make you train with a promise of a better future.

The work out itself is not making you happy. Maybe you feel happy when you’re tired after a long session or maybe when you sense some progress.

You may have added additional weights for the first time and managed to lift them. There is no sheer joy of movement though.


What makes you happy?

Some people say that jogging makes you happy. You run, you forget about the world around you, you “just move”.

I was always a bad runner. I struggled to run the 2000, the 3000m, and at the end the 5000m we had to run in school.

I fought myself and my body to make it and all I could accomplish was to be among the last at the finish line. In most cases I was glad I made it to the finish line at all.

My grades were bad and I wasn’t really popular with the girls for being a slow runner either. the teachers, in most cases having large stomachs and barely managing to move didn’t respect me either for trying hard.

Sometimes they didn’t even wait for me and went inside while I still had to run the last round left alone or with another unlucky guy.

Still running was OK. I was mostly alone and nobody was looking at my misery. In contrast I really hated gymnastics class. Despite that I even managed to do a flip a few times.

I don’t do flips these days though. Maybe I try when I turn 40 LOL. The worst thing for me was jumping above obstacles or training on bars. I was really scared.


Moving can be scary

I was afraid that I might hurt myself or even worse, to stultify myself in front of the other kids and especially the girls.

I moved over the obstacles awkwardly and hesitatingly but managed not to make a too big fool of myself by falling on my face or shouting out of pain.

Then I had to think about my high school teachers again. Maybe it was also my content muse who reminded me of them. I thought: where are you now?

I’m probably as old now as you’ve been then but I move like young God now! I jump above and move around obstacles without any mats all. I don’t injure myself.

When I hurt myself it’s nothing more than a bump. I’m not scared anymore most of the time. I’m just cautious.

I don’t jump between roofs like you see it some parkour “porn” videos. I don’t flip either.

It’s not just because it’s not really part of parkour. Well, who knows maybe I’ll perform a flip soon after more than twenty years.

This post is not about parkour really, believe me. It’s about how working in SEO for Google reminds me of my high school teachers again.

Optimizing for organic Google reach is even worse than working out in a badly ventilated gym with lots of arrogant people around.


Google optimization is like high school all over again.

The obese teacher tells you to jump and you jump. He tells you to run and you run. He tells you to run another circle despite you being completely wasted.

You vaulted the wrong way? You will get a penalty: you have to move another round. You still haven’t done it right. Move again you lazy good-for-nothing!

Then they will tell everybody else to watch how you get the penalty a jump through hoops.

All the other kids watch. Some laugh, others ridicule you. The teacher just lets you jump again and again. I still work for clients.

I have been submitting reinclusion requests to Google on one’s behalf several times in a row to no avail.

I have spent hours and hours sweating and checking every single link I could get hold of with the most advanced tools. I’m already getting paranoid. Does Google single me out?

Why did I have to add my name to the reinclusion. Nah, they know anyways who I am as I submit through Google Search Console.

My blog here has been penalized for no apparent reason.

Another blog I’ve been working for 5 years now and that was profitable got “pandalized” simply because it was on the wrong subdomain.

The client’s main domain got caught up in the Panda update. They competed directly with Google as a shopping search engine. Google wiped off most of them by now.

This is the third penalty I was dealing with in a year. This is much, as I have usually no more than 3 to 5 long term clients a year.

Remember that I’m known for practicing 200% white hat ethical SEO.

I’m not ashamed though these days. I won’t jump through hoops for my SEO 2.0 blog here. I have to for my clients.

Nonetheless I’m older and wiser now. Neither am I limited to a gym nor do I have to submit to a tyrannical teacher.

Parkour is not only cool all the time. You don’t jump all day like you’re spiderman.

You need a long warm up and then you need to build up muscle, train for agility and condition yourself.

I sucked at all three of them. By now I even do some yoga exercises while people watch and I don’t care. I stand on my hands like some Indian sadhu.


You are free without Google

Yes, you can use metaphors as headlines again. You can stretch in front of pedestrians or move above and below bars while drug dealers or police officers are standing nearby.

You are free to do whatever I like when you are not bound by Google’s often arbitrary rules anymore. Don’t believe me? I tried it!

Google wants to limit yourself, but ultimately you can do whatever you want despite them. You write for youself not Google. You don’t create content for the engine or machine. It’s like training in winter as well.

It’s much harder to get visitors without Google. It’s much harder to train in winter when snow, ice or mud is in your way.

You balance or climb up wet handrails. Maybe next winter you will manage to do it on snow or ice-covered ones. When I started parkour I wasn’t even able to stand for a second there.

When the snow and the ice melt and it’s not wet anymore you see why it’s great to train in winter.

It’s so much harder that once the weather improves againd again you can do everything effortlessly.

The same walls and obstacles you see every day have actually shrunken over night. They look tiny. You jump above them effortlessly.

It’s amazing. Just this one realization overflows you with happiness. It happened last Monday to me. It’s the same with Google.

When you can survive and thrive without Google you become stronger and better. You improve yourself, you adapt beyond obeying Google’s orders.


You have to embrace the freedom

Nobody will give it you. It’s out there. Break out of the Google box. Don’t let a hypocritical corporation dictate you how to write, design, and interact with your fans.

They have to fix their gym or algorithm. They have to run and jump to get that fat off their belly. You are lean enough already.

Most of the Google Panda update victims are out of business, changed their business model or at least their name or are simply “still losing”.

Most lucrative niches have been overtaken by the search monopolist, whether it’s

  • travel
  • ecommerce
  • video

you are at the mercy of Google, while their results show up above yours by manual action.

They can buy advertorials and do not have to make the links nofollow but they can f*ck webmasters like you and me for them.

Start training in winter, venture outside. You can make it. Even an almost 40 year old man like myself who never was good in sports can do parkour.

You can get business without Google as well. Prepare for it now as long as it’s summer. The next winter will come for sure. Maybe it will be harder than you think.

Even the climate changes. In ten years Google will probably go the way of AltaVista or Yahoo. I will be still around.

I will optimize for people for more than a decade by then. Will you still do SEO for Google by then or will you optimize for yourself and your audience?

Think about it before it’s too late. Don’t wait with the training until you’re 70. It will be much harder to start parkour at that age.

Sorry for writing another essay-like allegory of epic proportions again. I guess the fresh air I breathe when training in winter in the morning inspires me.

It’s just the sheer joy of movement whether moving outside or inside my head.

P.S.: in case you think I’m some kind of a lunatic, risking my life doing parkour in winter see these guys in action. For more parkour videos and images view my Pinterest board.

Last updated: June 4th, 2018.


* Creative Commons image by Esther Williams