Drew's Letter

By Drew Stegmaier

Rope Flow- Why Knot? ❼ of 💯 in 💯

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Drew's Letter

January 7 · Issue #86 · View online

The latest things I've dug into including books, quotes, songs, gadgets and other things I've found interesting.


Howdy! Today marks #7 in the 100 Stories in 100 Days Series. In case you missed it, yesterday’s is What Happens When You’re (Startup) Too Early? 🤑 Remember, this series is a marathon and a sprint. Thanks for baring with me as I explore the kinks and work them out. After all the hoopla, I think I’m getting a new email service provider. Those are the sorts of grunt work things that creatives often don’t discuss. They have nothing to do with the creative work, but rather the packaging of it.
How something is packaged is important. Thanks for hanging in as I begin changing the wrapping paper 🎁 Today, we are diving into…
Rope Flow- Why Knot?
When I was in college, I set a conditioning record in jumping rope at the boxing club at Virginia Tech. I’ve been jumping since 2009. The whole period hasn’t been purely focused on getting better. Rather, it’s been a line approaching an asymptote. The border is “good enough”.
This is the case with most skill acquisition for me. It may take 100 hours to get 80% of the way, 100 more to get from 80-90%, 200 from 90-95%, 500 from 95-97%, then 750 to 98%. That’s just a bunch of numbers I made up. The main thing to note is that as you get better, it takes a lot more time to eak out a little more efficiency at the upper end. If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you’ve likely gleaned that I geek out about things like deliberate practice and am familiar with the body of work, enough that I think I’m not a moron.
A lot of it stems from the work of Anders Ericsson and his team. Then plenty of people dog piled onto that- Geoff Colvin, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. These are the types of folks Peter Thiel refers to as 1 to N. Ericsson is the 0 to 1. The person finding the unique nugget. Others then spread the nugget.
Anywho, the reason I mention that is despite practicing jump rope for 10 years, I basically felt “good enough” when I could do double unders- that is when the rope passes under your feet twice for a single jump, consistently. Consistent for me was one minute on, one minute off, for five minutes. Mind you, I only got into double unders after practicing many other tricks. For a time, I would jump for 25 minutes nonstop when training for distance running.
Also, the ropes themselves have changed a lot. When I first dove in, CrossFit wasn’t much of a thing. I went through multiple ropes in a few months because they weren’t well made. There wasn’t a strong market need. I finally got a jump rope from Buddy Lee- the OG of jumping. As more time passed, CrossFit blew up. Now there are many brands of high-quality ropes– mainly since CrossFitters love double unders. A heavy speed rope is best for those. The heavy rope maintains momentum better than a light one.
So, before I heard of this whole “rope flow” thing, I had some solid experience jumping rope.
What is rope flow?
Rope flow involves swinging a rope similar to how you would swing a jump rope. The difference is that while you can jump, that is not the focus or the intent. Jumping rope is inherently a staccato movement, even if the rope is swinging continuously. Your feet are leaving the ground at a cadence. With rope flow, a heavier rope is used, and the feet can stay on the ground.
This is great for hard surfaces where jumping is too taxing on the knees. Also, if you carry excess weight, jumping rope is a great way to develop shin splints. Trust me. I’ve done this before during bulking cycles. Bulking cycles is the phrase I like to use to sound clever when I just want to eat everything and lift heavy. Rope flow still gives great cardio without the stress on the joints.
Additionally, the word flow is very appropriate. Practicing rope flow is a great way to get into a meditative or flow state. Because you’re constantly swinging a rope around, it requires focus. But it’s a special kind of focus. I don’t know how to describe it. You’re not consciously thinking of each swing.
It’s like driving on the highway and maintaining lane discipline. To do that, you have to look ahead. If you look right over the front bumper, you’ll make many micro-adjustments, and other drivers will think you are drunk.
A common symptom of flow states is the loss of time tracking. Often I’ll start doing some rope flow and have no idea how much time has passed. 5 minutes? 20? An hour? Who knows? These are my favorite moments. How long is a moment, anyways? For me, a moment is an indeterminate length of time where I am fully present and immersed in something, in flow.
But where can I get a rope? Your local hardware store should have them for cheap. 5 meters is plenty for a person about 6 feet tall. I’m 6 feet and I’d guess mine is currently 3.5 meters. I got a 5 meter one and cut it. You may want a synthetic rope, as they tend to be smoother. A thickness about like your thumb should be good. You can shorten the rope by tying knots in it, or making bigger handles.
What activities get you into flow? How can you repeat them?
As always, thanks for reading. 📖 Tomorrow’s story is Drinking My Own Pee 🥃
Keep flowing,
Drew
PS- I made an instructional video of myself doing the “Dragon Roll” technique 🐉 atop a Bosu Ball (half sphere bouncy thing for normal people) if you care to check it out. I filmed it after 3-4 rope flow sessions and wanted to share while I was still a beginner. Often I get frustrated with instructional videos because the instructor is so far removed from what it’s like to be a virgin, so I did my best to explain it while it was still new to me.
PPS- the video also signaled to me that I’ve been eating too much pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread 🧀) and I’m feeling a little self conscious about advertising my paunch, but fuck it!

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