In Pursuit of Double Unders

Jump Rope

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I recently embarked on a 100 day challenge to improve my currently mediocre pushup skills.  As of today, I am on Day 5 of this challenge, which means I’ve done a total of 15 extra pushups – not a ton, but probably 15 more extra pushups than I ever would have done in a normal work week. But as neat as it will be to work through this challenge, it’s not only skill I’m working on right now.  Yes, at the tender age of almost-38, I recently made a decision to start spending more time with every eight-year-old girl’s favorite piece of playground equipment – the jump rope.  But I’m not just working on your garden variety jump-roping.  Oh no, that would be far too easy.  I am trying to learn double unders.

Those of you who have not yet partaken of the same Kool-Aid as I have are probably wondering what in the wide world of sports a double under is.  I know I sure did the first time my trainer Brian Stites introduced the concept to me.  Heck, at the time I could barely jump rope at ALL without either tripping over the rope or having pain in my right knee and ankle.  But really, the concept is simple – a double under is when you jump rope, but you whip the rope around super fast so that it passes under your feet twice on each jump.  Double Under. For an example of what it looks like to do a double under, check out this short video of Chris Spealler, CrossFitter extraordinaire, explaining the technique.

Usually when I try to explain that I am attempting to learn this skill, I get one of two reactions. A) That shouldn’t be too hard or B) That sounds friggin’ impossible!  After having spent several months watching friends do this at  CrossFit On Track, I can attest that it isn’t impossible, but it also shouldn’t be too hard.  I can’t *promise* that it isn’t too hard because I’ve executed exactly ZERO of them successfully, but I figure I’ve watched enough people learn it that I should be able to do it too.

I’m really pleased to even be contemplating adding this exercise to my bag of tricks.  A little over a year ago when my trainer brought out the jump rope for the first time, I looked at it and said to myself “Not just NO, but HELL NO” because I have such trouble with exercises that cause impact on my joints, particularly the aforementioned right knee.  But I tried it and did some very ugly single unders, and thereafter was willing to jump rope occasionally. Once the trainer became the CrossFit box owner, I started jumping rope more until I could regularly hit anywhere from 60 to 100 single unders in an unbroken set.  And once I did that, I realized there is not a legitimate reason under the sun for me to not try for double unders. There is the illegitimate reason that I try and try and fail to get the double under, and look like an idiot, but I don’t think I should let that stop me, do you?

One of the owner/coaches at my box says there are just a couple of keys to getting the double under.  First, you just have to TRY IT. Over and over and over.  She says everybody eventually gets it, but it takes a lot of practice.  The other thing she said is that you have to not think about it too much.  I can already tell you which of these two things is going to be the biggest problem for me – the thinking part.  I am willing to practice – though I have to be *very* careful not to overdo it because if I do it for too long, I end up with a knee that is sore for days. But the part about not over thinking it, which even Chris Spealler mentions in the video so I’m sure it is probably important? That will be a tall order. I live alone, have a long-ish commute to work, like to write and read, and don’t watch much TV.  Thinking is what I do, and over-thinking things is what I am best at.  So, this pursuit of the double under won’t just be a physical challenge, it will be a huge mental challenge as well.  And truthfully, as excited as I will be to get my first double under, whether it’s next week, next month, or a year from now, overcoming the mental obstacle is just as exciting.

Think I can get my workplace to implement recess? Bring on the jump rope!

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