Category Archives: joggling

Juggling while running

Michal Kapral Joggling for AIDS Orphans

He’s back! Michal Kapral, the man who amazed the world by juggling while running a marathon in 2:50, the official world record, is aiming to set another record, this time with the half-marathon. And to top it off, he’s doing it to help raise money for AIDS orphans: Michal Kapral Joggling for AIDS Orphans at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Races

You really can’t get more inspiring than this. I wish Michal well with this endeavor, which takes place on the 19th of this month in Toronto. I’m sure this joggling world record will hold for a long time, maybe even forever. Michal Kapral was one of the first jogglers I ever heard about, and he has inspired me to this day.

Great interview with Michal Kapral by writer/runner/adventurer Noel Paine: Joggling Boggles My Mind

To support his charity, go to: 2014 Scotiabank Charity Challenge

Marathon recovery for jogglers

The balls I juggled for 26.2 miles.

The beanbags I juggled for 26.2 miles. Gballz makes very durable juggling balls. The beanbags are made from ultra-leather, which is vegan.

It’s been 10 days since the epic Yonkers Marathon, and about 99% of the soreness is gone. This doesn’t mean I am 99% recovered. It may take a little while longer(maybe another week) to recover 100% so I can run 20+ miles again. What little soreness I still feel is mainly in the hips, and this is probably due to how hilly the Yonkers Marathon was.

Because I’m a marathon joggler, I get a lot of questions both about training for a marathon and recovering from one. Occasionally, I get questions about my sanity. Overall, it really isn’t that different, except that besides doing a lot of juggling and joggling, you need to do just a little bit of upper body strength training to be able to juggle for so many miles. Push-ups, curls, and the bicycle maneuver about twice a week is about all I do, and it normally takes about 5 minutes.

Recovering from joggling a marathon is practically the same as recovering from running one(at least I think it is). It’s the legs that feel stiff and very sore afterwards, while the arms are just a little tired, at least in my case. My arms felt better the next day, while my legs were so sore and weak I couldn’t run for 2 days after the race. So I juggled instead on those rest days. I’ve also been doing a lot of walking, which started the day of the marathon. After a long nap and lunch, I walked 2 miles a few hours after the marathon. I’ve been mostly doing short runs these days, though I managed to run 10 miles(8:50 pace) 3 days ago, exactly 1 week since the marathon. I’m not back to running 5 to 6 days a week like I was before the race.

I didn’t do anything special after the marathon when it comes to diet, nor did I get a massage afterwards, except for some self-massage. I didn’t take an ice bath either, just a cool shower. In case you have forgotten, I never stretch. I just relaxed a little more than usual after walks, or runs, or juggle chi. Lots of powerful music too, can’t forget to listen to powerful music to refuel the soul.

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The main thing I would do differently in training for my next marathon is to do more hill-training, and possibly even longer long runs. I think I may even be ready for my next marathon within a few weeks, though I haven’t signed up for anything yet. Will keep everyone posted.

Did you just run a marathon or half-marathon? If so, please tell us how you did and how your recovery is going.

Lost in Yonkers? Then run the Marathon

Yonkers Marathon here I come! It’s been a little while since I’ve run a marathon. This will be my third official marathon, and my second time running the Yonkers Marathon. I’m hoping to beat my previous time of 3:51, and I’m also hoping I drop less often. It’s a hilly race, so if you’re not used to hills, this marathon will be brutal. Here is how the Yonkers marathon went last year – How I did at the Yonkers Marathon. This time, after the marathon I will be swimming across the Hudson river to New Jersey.

If you’re in the area and want to see some joggling, this is your chance. Your support will be very appreciated. I hope there are more runners participating this year, especially more vegan runners. I think I was just one of two vegan runners last year. With all the vegan runners in the NYC metro area, there really should be a lot more vegans participating in this race.

Vegan or non-vegan, if you’re running this I look forward to running with you. You’ll know exactly who I am, trust me!

I was kidding about swimming to New Jersey.

 

New PR as summer comes to an end

IMG_2601With summer almost over, us runners can finally harvest the fruits of our labor thanks to the cooler weather. All that sweating while conquering steep hills, running far out into Connecticut, and running intervals has finally paid off. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to run(while juggling) 8 miles in 1 hour or less. This seemed impossible last year, during the spring this year while recovering from an injury, and well into the summer with the heat slowing me down.

After a lot of training, I could manage, with maximum or near maximum effort to run 8 miles in 1:02 or 1:03. It seemed erasing those few extra minutes was almost impossible. Then, 2 days ago, it finally happened during a 10 mile run. With temperatures in the upper 60s, I finally managed to run 8 miles in 59 minutes, 34 seconds. I also managed to run 10 miles in 1:14 and 31 seconds, the first time ever running 10 miles in less than 1:15. My average pace for this run was 7:28. I wasn’t flawless though, since I dropped the balls once during this run. At the end of this run I felt amazing.

Besides this, just yesterday, I’ve managed to run my first 2,000 miles since signing up with Runkeeper. That’s like running from New York City to Billings, Montana. All those miles were fueled and continue to be fueled by a 100% vegan diet. How did I manage to do this? Having supportive, wonderful, even crazy friends is a big help(there’s no community like the running community!), but besides this, I doubled my interval training a few weeks ago. I used to do it for 13 minutes once a week, now I do it for 26 minutes(I always do an easy 5 minute run beforehand). I alternate between 30 seconds of fast and 30 seconds of slow running.

The day before I broke this record, I was doing some hill training in Yonkers where there are some very steep hills overlooking the Hudson river. I did this for 47 minutes while it was raining, running up and down a steep 100 foot hill 7 times, covering about 3 miles while doing this. My legs didn’t feel as horrible as I thought they were going to feel afterwards. Some people were shocked by what I was doing. I believe the long runs I do also help. Unlike earlier this year, I hardly do any leg strength training anymore, except for squats very occasionally(I do ab work more often). I do little cross-training, and I don’t stretch. My cross-training consists mostly of walking, hiking, and “juggle chi” which is like Tai Chi but it involves juggling(I usually do it with 4 balls, while I joggle with 3 usually).

The important take away message here is to never give up. If you train hard in less than ideal conditions, you’ll reap the rewards when conditions improve. What records have you broken that once seemed impossible for you?

Dancing and joggling genes?

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I sometimes say that anyone can learn to joggle. While this may not be entirely accurate, what I’m really trying to say is that it is not as difficult or as incredible as it looks.

What people see is the result of a ton of training. It has taken me many years to get the point where I am at now. I have joggled for thousands of miles, and just recently joggled my first 1,000 miles for the year.

What level am I at now? Last week, I did a 20 mile joggling run while it was in the mid 80s and humid. Several of those miles were on rocky, hilly, curvy forest trails. Surprisingly, I didn’t drop the balls even once, though I had to take 2 short breaks to cool off and drink some Gatorade. I even did a lot of tricks, especially in the first half. I was actually expecting to drop because of the heat, and how much I was sweating, and because of the rockiness of the trails. But it looks like my muscle memory didn’t fail me even in these extreme conditions. This isn’t the first time I’ve run 20 miles without dropping, but it was the first in mid 80s weather. I also did a 12 mile run last week, much of which involved joggling up the steepest hills ever(for me), and didn’t drop during the entire run. I was shocked, to be honest.

As much as I know this is the result of training, I can’t help but wonder if my genes give me an edge somehow. Alright, that sounds ridiculous even to me and those who know me best. I don’t come from a long line of gifted athletes, nor have I ever displayed any athletic ability before I took up joggling. Nor have I ever been a good dancer, which is similar to juggling and joggling.

While my research hasn’t lead to anything specifically focusing on juggling and genes, I did find an interesting study done on creative dancers which shows an interesting correlation between creative dance performance and certain genes. According to:
Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Creative Dance Performance:

The association between AVPR1a and SLC6A4 polymorphisms and creative dancing does not exclude the presence of the same polymorphisms in nondancing groups of subjects. Almost all of us dance and almost all of us have engaged in sports. What the current study suggests is that the combination of polymorphic variants contributing to creative dancing is overrepresented in the dancers. There is no reason to suggest that the nondancer athletes or the control group of nondancers/nonathletes are devoid of these polymorphisms, but the current study provides evidence that these variants are relatively scarce in other groups not specifically selected for the creative dancing phenotype. Importantly, we not only compared creative dancers to performing athletes but also validated the case-control design using a family-based study that avoids the conundrum of a comparison control group that might be “contaminated” with polymorphisms contributing to creative dancing. As for most complex traits, the effect size of these two genes is small and in Risch’s terminology will have small displacement.

These “dance” genes may play a role in coordination, but also show links with spirituality, and artistic creativity. They also seem to be linked with serotonin and brain anatomy. Serotonin plays an important role in the central nervous system. It affects mood and behavior, and many mind-altering drugs strongly influence our serotonin pathways.

It is difficult to disentangle what is really going on here, since genetics is very complicated and I lack expertise in it. I often claim that joggling is just like dancing, so it is possible these “dance” genes may influence a person’s joggling ability, though this is speculation on my part. Obviously, no matter how much a person trains, not everyone can reach the same level of joggling ability, just as not everyone can reach the same level of dance ability or martial arts ability. I do wonder sometimes if all the people I know who can’t even learn how to juggle may be genetically disadvantaged somehow.

However, none of this means that if you are trying to learn to joggle you should give up if you aren’t a good dancer or lack coordination. Keep in mind my background as a lousy dancer and even worse athlete, and how I started juggling and joggling while recovering from a car accident. The brain is very plastic; even if you lack these genes(assuming they give an edge to pursuits requiring coordination), it may still be possible to become a skilled joggler with enough practice.

 

 

Joggling lemons

IMG_2477What’s next after joggling oranges? Why joggling lemons, of course! I managed to do this for 4.8 miles yesterday, dropping them a bunch of times. Although they weighed less than the oranges I joggled a few weeks ago, their shape makes them a little more difficult to handle. The protruding ends of the lemons would sometimes stab the palms of my hands a bit, causing a little pain. This isn’t an issue with most oranges. The lemons averaged about 4.75 ounces each, just slightly more than my usual Sil-X juggling balls(a little more than 4 ounces). The oranges I juggled a few weeks ago were nearly twice as heavy, and because of this, they really slowed me down.

With all the drops, and stopping to take photos, my timing is irrelevant. Besides, this was also a strength-training day, and I usually can’t run fast on strength days. I had Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” playing in my head during this run.

One of the things that I like the most about joggling fruits is the novelty of it. I am so used to joggling with the same old balls, it gets a little boring at times. It’s no longer as challenging as it used to be. So it’s nice to be able to joggle with something different for a change. It feels like it is more brain stimulating, to juggle fruits that are each slightly different in shape, weight, and texture, unlike a set of balls which are uniform. So I have to focus a little more on my juggling pattern while running, and make the proper calculations and adjustments. This may help improve my joggling.

As the old saying among jogglers goes, “When life throws you lemons, joggle them!”. In case you’re wondering, I am not sure who was the first to say this.

I’m also not sure what I am going to do with the lemons. Make lemonade? Lemon pie? I appreciate any suggestions!

Besides being a lot of fun, lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. For more nutrition facts about lemons, check out: Nutrition Data on Lemons

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To joggle or not to joggle at the Looper Bowl

If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you may be under the impression that I juggle whenever I run. This isn’t actually the case, though it’s usually over 90% of the time, so it’s almost true.

In fact, just this weekend I did a 10k(6 mile) non-joggling run up in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, NY called the “Looper Bowl” with a bunch of other enthusiastic runners. They call it this because the run is on the Leatherman’s Loop trail, which loops back to where it starts, and it was on the morning of Super Bowl sunday. It’s a very hilly, treacherous trail with a lot of water crossings(mostly frozen), so it was a lot of fun! I hear it’s even more fun during spring and summer events on this trail, with some crazy runners going through the water waist deep. I may try this next time.

Days before the run, I kept arguing with myself if I should juggle during this run, and decided not to, due to the ice and snow on this very challenging course. And it wasn’t just my own safety I was concerned about, but the safety of other runners. Besides this, my right knee still gets a little sore when I run.

After less than a mile into the run, it became obvious that I made the right decision. It sure was rocky, steep, and slippery in some places(I borrowed my brother’s traction attachments for my sneakers, since mine broke). Still, I am used to this kind of thing and that just makes it more fun for me. Running on flat surfaces is dullsville to me.

I really believe that all the joggling I do pays off. Even when I am just running, it helps make me a better, more confident runner, making challenging terrain easier to handle. Without the balls, I can run just a little faster, and I feel I have more stamina. I also think that thanks to the joggling I do, my coordination is better and my eyes are sharper. For example, toward the end of the run, we had to go through a swampy area with thorny brambles galore. For some reason, I was one of the few runners who didn’t get pierced by thorns or stuck in the thorny bushes. Some unlucky runners legs got really bloody. I really hope they are okay by now.

So if you want to be a better runner, especially a better trail runner, consider taking up joggling. You don’t have to juggle every time you run, but it may help you when you’re dealing with very treacherous terrain, even if you’re just running it.

A Happy and Healthy New Year!

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A Happy New Year to all my friends and followers! Thank you for making 2013 a great year for Wild Juggling. I hope you all have a very healthy, and exciting 2014.

2013 Year in review

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Now that we are very near the finish line of 2013, I thought it was time for a review of the past year. 2013 was a good year for me as far as joggling goes. Overall, I have run at least 1,200 miles this year. I only started closely tracking my mileage recently, so this is a rough, conservative estimate. About 90% of the time when I am out running, I am also juggling.

I also ran my first 2 marathons this year, the Yonkers Marathon and the Brooklyn Marathon, completing both of them in under 4 hours, while juggling. I also ran an unofficial “ultra” marathon of 28.5 miles from 42nd street in the middle of Manhattan up to Tarrytown, New York with a group of some very awesome runners. These runs were all a lot of fun! I got interviewed about my marathon joggling by podcaster/blogger/avid outdoorsman Steve Stearns over at Outside Health and Fitness. I also got interviewed by Perry Romanowski, a very accomplished joggler and scientist, over at Just Your Average Joggler.

The Wild Juggling blog has also grown during this time. It now has over 700 followers, 318 published posts, and nearly 30,000 page views. Some of my most popular posts from this year are:

And there are many others. It feels great being told I am inspirational, both by vegan and non-vegan athletes. It also feels wonderful destroying myths about veganism with all the distance joggling I do. I will definitely do many more marathons in 2014 and a lot of other fun, crazy things.

I’d like to thank all my friends for your advice, inspiration, and encouragement. You help make Wild Juggling and my marathon running possible. I wish you well with your blogs, your running, and your plans for the new year!

My Brooklyn Marathon experience

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Just after completing the Brooklyn Marathon. They also gave me a nice hat, besides a Brooklyn Marathon running shirt, which I didn’t wear.

First of all, congratulations to all finishers of the Brooklyn Marathon! it was great running with all you energetic and wonderful people. And Thanks to NYCRUNS for organizing a great race experience.

Earlier today, I completed the Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park while juggling. The Brooklyn Marathon is a very young marathon compared to the Yonkers Marathon(also organized by NYCRUNS) I did back in september. I often call it a “baby” marathon because it is only 3 years old, unlike the 106 year old Yonkers Marathon. This in no way means it is an “easy” marathon, though it is a lot less hilly than the Yonkers Marathon.

Now for the results: I was a tiny bit slower than last time, finishing at 3:52:33, compared to 3:51:43, which is how I did at the Yonkers Marathon, an almost trivial difference. At least I managed to finish in under 4 hours again. There were 400 finishers in the race, and my overall place was 122. I think that may be kind of impressive.

At least I improved when it came to juggling, dropping only twice during the entire marathon, compared to 4 times in the Yonkers Marathon. I probably would have done better if it hadn’t rained on and off for nearly 30 minutes, leaving me all wet and making it slippery in some spots. It was also a little warm for this time of year(nearly 60 F or 15.5 C toward the end of the race) and uncomfortably humid, though when the race started at 8:30, it was a little chilly.

I think the tedium of doing several laps on the same path in Prospect Park going around and around and around got to me mentally(I did this entire path once earlier this year). This was the biggest problem with the race, from my perspective. I prefer a race that isn’t repetitious and takes me places. Fortunately, NYCRUNS has some ambitious plans to bring the Brooklyn Marathon out onto the streets of Brooklyn. I even feel like they stole my idea – I kept thinking to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great if this race ended in Cony Island?”. And the organizer at the beginning of the race said exactly that! So this is a potentially great marathon in embryo form, just as the big New York City Marathon was once an embryo that used to be completely run within Central Park back in the 70s.

I also felt a borderline nausea during some parts of the run, especially when I tried running faster. I wonder if this would have been less of a problem if I had been consuming the probiotic blueberry or cherry kefir before the run, which is what I did last time. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I wasn’t able to make any this time, though did have some store bought kimchi.

Another issue was that the marathon route wasn’t closed to non-marathon runners. I couldn’t get over how many people were walking or running on the path, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a marathon was going on and they were in the middle of it. This must have slowed down a lot of the runners.

On the bright side, the crowd support was amazing. There were so many people cheering for us, and I gotta admit, especially me. This feels so weird to me. I can’t count how many times I heard people say “Go vegan joggler!”, because of the vegan T-shirt I had on. I think at least a few of the people watching the marathon were vegan(which may have explained their excitement), and I am aware of a few other vegan runners who I met. Yes I know I get a lot of attention, but you all inspire me too; I don’t think I would be doing this at all if it wasn’t for vegan runners setting an example for me to follow and to feel camaraderie with. Not to mention that part of the reason I do this is to dispel myths about veganism.

After I crossed the finish line, some other runners thanked me for making the race more “entertaining” for them. This is why I do what I do – it makes racing more fun for me and everyone else. I’m glad I could entertain you, and maybe inspire you to run a little faster – after all, who wants to come home from a race and say they got beaten by a vegan joggler? This is also the first long run in which I’ve worn the new ASICS sneakers I got about a week before the race. It felt terrific running in them, they are definitely a little roomier width wise compared to my previous pair.

All in all, a great race experience in spite of its flaws. I also wish I had gotten more sleep the night before. I got around 5 hours which is usually inadequate for me. This also may have slowed me down a little bit.

I drank a lot of tart cherry juice during the ride home, and ate some Cliff Bars. It’s difficult to have a full meal after very long runs. I drank a lot of tart cherry juice because it may help speed recovery. I feel sore now, but I did go for a walk after I got home. Hopefully the soreness will be gone within a few days.

I look forward to doing many more marathons and races. I wish all my followers much success with your races and your fitness routine. I hope anyone reading this who ran the Brooklyn Marathon had as good of a time as I did. And if you happen to be planning a trip to New York City, be sure to visit Prospect Park, it’s a lovely little green space that has a lot to offer.

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