Doing the Math

March 16, 2015
Childhood Dreams, Loui Jover, 2104

Childhood Dreams, Loui Jover, 2014

It is important for me to establish a clear goal for myself before beginning any competitive workout. Since I would only be making one attempt at 15.3, today’s go had to represent my best effort. This weekend I spent a little of my down time gathering data. Since age is not an impediment to jump rope speed, I researched how long it takes the top athletes to perform 100 double-unders: around :55. Allowing for the likelihood that I could not do them all unbroken, I allowed myself an extra :05 to trip and go again.

I calculated :10 for the switch to wall-balls and to take a few breaths before starting what I hoped would be an unbroken set. There are not many ways to speed up wall-balling (10# to a 9’ target), since gravity brings the ball down. But after watching a few instructional videos, I discovered that there is one technique to speed up the squat and toss sequence, the half of the move an athlete can control, by using a wider stance and parallel feet to keep tension on the hamstrings. When pulled in a squat like the rubber band in a slingshot, these muscles propel the ball into the air like a pea.

I timed the pros in the demo videos, and they were doing wall-balls at a rate of 1 per second using this technique. Looking back over my own records for wall-ball sessions, I found that my best rate to date was 1 every :03. I decided to shoot for a rate of 1 per :015, which, if I could pull this move off for 50 wall-balls, would give me a finish time of 3:25. Bingo. I had a goal.

Then I asked one of my coaches for input, and she added a coda, “Finish in 3:25, yes…and then get to the rings for the muscle-ups.” I had not considered setting up for a move I cannot do. Still, she asked me to keep getting to the rings in mind the whole time.

Mont Blanc 21315-11

I started the day at my chiropractor’s office, in the hope of sweetening up my nearly mended back. Since his work is more about engagement of the joints and muscle groups surrounding the injury than it is about back cracking, I went straight from there to the gym, and felt no need to do additional mobility in preparation. I set up the rings for a muscle-up, as I’d been coached, in spite of raised eyebrows from gym mates who know I don’t have them yet, and I assembled the rest of my station, with a wall ball and a jump rope. The moment my judge arrived, we started the clock.

As I had predicted, I tripped up once midway through the double-unders, and quickly resumed jumping again, finishing them at 1:00 and on schedule. I started throwing wall-balls at exactly 1:10. While I didn’t manage to throw them all without a break—at number 35, I started seeing stars and decided to hold the ball for a second and catch my breath—I didn’t glance at the clock until after I heard my judge count “48, 49, 50.” It read 3:25.

I didn’t go straight to the rings because my head was spinning. But I got to them about a minute later, jumped up, felt the smooth wood in my palms, and steadied the sway by engaging my midline, as I have been taught to do. I took a huge back swing with my legs, and as they swung forward, thrust my hips toward the ceiling with as much force as I could muster. I pulled hard with my arms to try and capture the upward momentum, and felt, for a fleeting second, that making it over the rings and into full extension is closer for me than it has ever been.

No rep on a muscle-up today, of course. But in spite of it, I ratcheted up the ladder this week to 3rd place worldwide, and resolved to make muscle-ups a priority in the coming months.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Patrick Stoker March 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Sandy!!! This is so amazing I am so proud and happy for you! You rock and are such a huge inspiration! Muah

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