Two-time World Freerunning Championship winner Timothy Shieff always thought he could fly. When he found freeunning, also known as Parkour, it was a creative outlet that allowed a sacred combination of spontaneity, strength and joy to lift him up. As an ethical vegan, Shieff is continually proving that a strong body is in line with a strong commitment to ethics and compassion. I asked Tim eight questions and here are his responses:
1. What’s the best idea you’ve heard lately?
Haha, best idea? Great question! When you’re in a vegan restaurant and want to try everything on the menu (happens too often) but you don’t want to be greedy or throw up after, eat half of everything, box the rest and find a homeless person who would appreciate it.
2. What music gets you pumped to work out/play?
I’d say English Grime Music, its kind of like our version of rap except its a different BPM so the flow works different, you can generally tell what everyone is saying clearly and the beats are always so powerful. Artists like Skepta, JME, D Double E, Fekky. Other then that I actually really like Drake and A$AP Rocky. In down time I listen to a lot of classical like Ludovico Einaudi and my favourite recent finds have to be Spooky Black and Yung Lean.
3. Describe a childhood memory.
I remember being about 4 years old standing in a window situated halfway up my stairs and looking out and believing so strongly that I could fly! Of course my mother told me I couldn’t, and then for the next 20 years I believed that. Now I’m starting realise how little I actually know for certain in this world and the power of belief underlies almost every outcome in our lives so that I don’t actually know for sure that it’s not possible. Just that realisation of how little I know for absolute certain opened up my mind so much to feeling like a little kid again in a world of wonder and limitless possibilities!
Equally prominent from when I was roughly 4 was asking my mother if the lamb we eat was actually once a living baby sheep and her just telling me that it was, and that it’s ok. Like a moment of clarity from my pure spirit getting shut down and moulded to society.
4. What meal would you make for a skeptic?
My super sweet potato wedges and a veggie burger. Gotta give them something they can relate to and it’s also like a fast-food their guaranteed to enjoy. If I had a nickel for every person that said they’d be vegan if they could eat like that for every meal…
5. What are you worried about?
Haha! I actually don’t know, I’ve done too much yoga, running and self reflection to carry too many worries. I guess I worry about my mum worrying more then anything, but I can’t stop being who I am for that, and making decisions out of fear is very limiting.
6. When were you last shocked?
When I discovered how happy running makes humans. I had no idea it was this much fun but that because I always compared it to other things or judged it from an outside perspective without actually experiencing it. It’s so deeply ingrained in us, everything about our physical make up is to be good at running long distances; our Achilles tendons, our sweat glands, our ability to breath twice per stride etc. I always wanted to fly but by doing that I wasn’t appreciating what we can already do so well and now I’ve discovered that I get it, I love it. I always thought it looked boring, monotonous, strenuous. I wanted to just be powerful and explosive but there’s some incredible feeling of calmness and contentment in between runs. I smile most of the time I run and when I say “good morning” to people as I pass them and they respond I feel a new burst of energy fuel me from this connection, it’s fascinating to experience! There’s scientifically proven ties between compassion/happiness and our ability to run far/well and now I know it first hand. No wonder a lot of the best long distance runners and triathletes are vegan! I feel like I found a large part of the puzzle that makes up true, simplistic happiness as a human. People have known this for millennia of course but it’s nice to understand it. I also recently learnt that the US could solve homelessness with the budget they use on Christmas lights, now that’s shocking and really shows how little our governments understand/care about real issues.
7. Describe a personal ritual.
After training yoga I always thank myself. I rarely actually get excited to go to yoga but I know how much it benefits me physically and mentally and how good/tranquil I feel after. So at the end of a session I say to myself something along the lines of “With this practise I show gratitude for the body I’ve been given and all the stresses I put it under. Through working and striving to improve myself I become more aligned with my true self and in turn puts me in a better position to help the others I share this planet with.” But the important thing is to take my time and feel the words not just say them in my head, there’s powerful energy in the feeling of gratitude. I try to do similar things after each practise/training session but change why I’m grateful and why I just did the practise.
8. What should we try?
Geocaching! Its like real-world treasure hunt thats been going on for a while now right under our noses on the streets we all walk! Basically people hide these tiny stashes all over cities and you use the app to get close to the location, then use clues to actually find the item. Then when you do you open it up, sign a bit of paper with your name and date, take a little gift (if its big enough to contain one) then put it back in its hiding place for the next cacher to come along and on the app you mark it as found. https://www.geocaching.com/