Woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap.
That’s the sound of 30 unbroken double unders. I will always be able to identify that sound for the rest of my life. It is such an unmistakable sound. It’s an aggressive sound; there’s no attempt at hiding the amount of effort required to generate it. The rope ferociously cuts through the air with a more violent woosh than say the gentler swoosh of a basketball sailing through a hoop. The snap of the rope on the floor as it brushes by is so subtle and brief you’d think an elf was trying to hammer in a tiny nail instead of wire slashing through the air. The tap of feet landing on the ground before springing into the air again is graceful and controlled not unlike that of a ballet dancer’s sauté. Much like an engine can rhythmically lull you to sleep, the double under also casts spells of mesmerization.
I heard that sound for the first time in-person at my box for our attempt at the first workout in the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Open. What’s that? Oh, no, I wasn’t the producer of this sound! Haha, no way. I made sounds along the lines of woosh-snap woosh-snap thud. Or woosh-snap woosh-slap stomp. Or my favorite, woosh-snap woosh-whap ouch shit. But there was one time, one glorious shining moment when I produced this: woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh-snap tap, woosh-snap woosh slap thud. That’s right, your boy Chris PRed double unders at 2 baby!
Let me quickly offer my expert analysis of 14.1:
Yeah that pretty much sums it up.
To do a good job, you need to have the right tools. I didn’t have the proper tools for 14.1. I had never attempted double unders. I didn’t have a rope fitted to my size. I didn’t have a snatch in my CrossFit repertoire. It was like I was going to take my SATs but didn’t have a Number 2 pencil. (By the way, why no love for the Number 1 pencil?)
I was fortunate that one of my coaches (and friend!) Emily had her own rope and let me use it. There was one slight problem; Emily is a tad bit shorter than me. I assumed having a rope that was too short would probably hinder my score, but then again I knew I wasn’t making Regionals. What I wasn’t thinking of was how this short rope might lead to my decapitation.
For the snatches, I had my bar loaded at 75 lbs and ready to go beside my (borrowed) rope. I wasn’t going to snatch the weight, I was going to ground to overhead each rep. I figured that would be better (and safer) than attempting a brand new move in competition. Speaking of strategy, my DU strategy was to get one rep at a time. I thought going for more than one rep would be an exercise in futility and do nothing but expend energy and nurture frustration. There would be plenty of both without adding any extra!
14.1. Ten minutes. As many reps as possible.
Wow. DUs are hard. I think I averaged two no reps for every counted rep I got. It reminded me of learning to golf, and for anyone that’s taken over 100 strokes to get around a golf course, you know what I mean. All those extra swings really start adding up, fatiguing you and turning your disposition into anything but cheery. That’s what happened on my double unders. When I would go two or three attempts without getting one rep, I’d start getting frustrated. I kept focused by closing my eyes for about half a second, then exhaling and trying again. There was some video shot of my 14.1 attempt and one clip shows me doing this exact thing. I had written that one goal was to remain calm and not get frustrated. I think I handled that pretty well!
However, it is hard not to get frustrated when all the screw ups are bringing pain! I had worn taller socks to prevent shin lashes that I had heard accompany DUs. Turns out I didn’t need those. What I did need was a helmet because my head was repeatedly pelted by the rotating rope! Ouch! Seriously, I’m glad I have such a hard head (so I’ve been told) and that I didn’t hit my neck instead of my boney cranium.
I did two full sets of DUs. All but one of those 60 were earned one at a time. The two DUs I got in a row were a PR. So there was a silver lining to a relatively rough virgin trip into the world of double unders. And hey, two sets are better than one!
Err, ground to overheads. I mean snatches seem like a simple enough movement; take a wide grip, pull the bar up to your hips then thrust and pull the weight over your head. But 14.1 was not the time to try and learn a second brand new movement. (Hey Jesse, let’s program some snatches soon, maybe, please?)
Not much to say about picking a relatively light barbell off the ground and pressing it over my head. After expending so much energy on the DUs, the weight was heavier and harder than I thought it would be. I think it was mostly my cardio being shot from my 90 attempts to get 30 reps on the rope.
Again though, with the video taken, I noticed I exhibited some really poor form with my GTOs: arched back, a core that wasn’t tight, wrists rolling backwards. That’s going to be my focus this coming week; focus on the little things with my form and work on grooving correct movements. When it is go time in competition or trying to PR, I don’t want my mind focusing on what my wrists and abs are doing – I want them to just know what to do!
My final 14.1 score was 85. So… probably won’t be making it into the Regionals. I’m not in last place… but close! Here are my lessons learned from 14.1:
- Double unders are hard. See above.
- I need to focus on my form now before I engrain bad habits further.
- Competing was awesome, no matter how much I sucked at it.
- The community of information available and encouragement and sharing was almost overwhelming. Not a single person I have interacted with has been anything but positive and reinforcing.
- I’m so glad I was “pressured” into signing up for the Open!
And lastly, I have a goal to be a producer of the woosh-snap woosh-snap tap. To me this was going back to my childhood and having a magician pull a quarter out of my ear or making a hanky disappear; I wanted to be able to do the same thing to someone else, I wanted to amaze them with the same trick that amazed me. DUs are impressive, much more impressive than lifting X percent more weight on X exercise. I’m going to master the double under, I’m going to impress someone with them, I’m going to put them under the same spell as befell me, and then I’m going to teach them how to do DUs. Because that’s truly where the magic is – in having such a command of a talent that you can pass it on to someone else, then together you can create that sweet, beautiful, harmonious sound of effort and control and skill and badassness.