Just fooling around with my clubs and unicycle on an unseasonably warm day. Trying to add a little humor to this.
Just fooling around with my clubs and unicycle on an unseasonably warm day. Trying to add a little humor to this.
I’ve been working on this combined skill all summer and I’ve made significant progress. I can now do it for a minute or more.
It still helps to throw the clubs narrow and high, rather than a broad pattern. I’m much better doing it with my right foot down than left foot, which reveals a strange body asymmetry. Actually, these things aren’t so strange, we all have asymmetries to some degree, we all have a preferred side which is interrelated to being right or left-handed. It’s also common for one leg or arm to be slightly longer than the other, but it’s usually not that noticeable.
It often takes doing “extreme” or unusual things to discover this.
Sheer exhaustion is what usually causes me to dismount, with my lower foot and leg getting increasingly sore. It’s much more tiring than juggling balls because clubs weigh more. And I still do drop sometimes before I reach exhaustion. I think it will take a little more time to become more efficient and not put so much pressure on my dominant foot. As my balance improves that means less energy expended trying to stay on the unicycle.
Hopefully the much cooler weather will make this less exhausting — juggling while unicycling sure generates a lot of heat!
I just finished reading “Marauders of Hope” by Aruna Ravikumar(@aruna.writes on IG, @aruna_writes_ on Twitter). This book is an in depth look at the multi-level marketing industry and all the misery it causes around the world, particularly in India. She also offers guidance on what you can do to help stop this menace.
Aruna pulls no punches by describing these companies for what they truly are: pyramid schemes that exploit the desperate and ignorant to enrich the few at the top. They manage to get away with this through powerful lobbying arms and taking advantage of loopholes and ambiguities in the law. Many people are enticed into joining these schemes by promises of riches and cult-like brainwashing techniques to keep them in the club. They’re pyramid schemes but use products to camouflage what they’re really about.
Billions of dollars are looted from the gullible in this manner. Amway in the U.S contributes heavily to the Republican party; Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, belongs to the DeVos family which founded Amway. Trump himself has been involved in mlm and other scams. Politicians and government officials in India are similarly paid off or are in cahoots with the criminals.
But Aruna has not given up hope, and neither have I. As she shows in her book, there are many people around the world trying to spread awareness of these predatory schemes. I thought the chapter about the various scientists, government officials and consumer advocates fighting mlm in India, in spite of threats and legal setbacks, was particularly inspiring.
Besides corruption, misunderstandings and lack of political will have hindered prosecution, but every now and then the crooks are arrested and some companies do get shut down(at least temporarily).
I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to know how this predatory industry works and how it’s able to achieve a veneer of legitimacy to far too many people(including vegans). If you’re tired of people trying to recruit you or seeing friends and family getting exploited, get involved and spread the word! Visit MLMtruth.org for more info.
This is a very difficult skill to master, but I am slowly getting better at it. Besides requiring a high level of coordination and balance, it also requires a lot of stamina, which I think I may have due to many years of endurance running.
I also still use an interleaving method much of the time, rather than focusing on the same thing — I like to think it helps but this isn’t exactly a controlled experiment. I also still use an interleaving method much of the time, rather than focusing on the same thing I like to think it helps but this isn’t exactly a controlled experiment.
Two things that I find helpful:
1) Throwing the clubs a little higher
2) Throwing the clubs in a narrow pattern instead of a wide one
Both of these allow for greater control of the clubs and the unicycle, and give me more time to react.
What kind of fun new skills are you working on?
Just did a new video tutorial on how to idle on a unicycle. It’s a tough skill to master but with persistence anyone can become competent at idling. Learning to idle is the best way to improve your overall unicycling ability. I hope you’re all having a wonderful New Year so far!
Last weekend I completed my 6th marathon, the Yonkers marathon as a member of Team Humane*, a team of amazing athletes who are changing the world. Besides being the second oldest marathon in the U.S, the Yonkers marathon is one of the hilliest.
In case you’re new here I’m the guy who juggled while running this thing for all 26.2 miles. I won’t bore you with too many details, or give a mile by mile account of my race experience. To make the long story short, just think a lot of wind, a lot of hills, and a bunch of people running, with one juggling while running.
So I completed this double loop race in 4:30, my slowest marathon to date. The wind was particularly fierce last Sunday, and was at least partly responsible for my slower than usual pace. At one point I had to hilariously chase after one of my balls that got blown away by the wind, losing precious time as a result. The sub-4 hour finishing time I aimed for just wasn’t happening. I dropped the balls a total of 5 times due to the wind, so my no-drops marathon joggling streak is over. I didn’t drop while joggling at my last 3 marathons — this streak had to end some time.
Besides the howling wind, I was under-trained due to personal issues that unfortunately got in the way of training at times. If the situation hadn’t improved I probably wouldn’t have run this race.
The crowd support as usual was fantastic, especially at the beginning. Lots of good humor also. Years ago I would have kicked myself for falling short of a goal. But it’s just so counter-productive to do so. In the end, I still entertained a lot of people and helped promote a good cause that is doing all it can to help end the suffering of farm animals. Animal exploitation and suffering is a problem, my not running a marathon fast enough isn’t.
Unlike last time I tapered from both running and also unicycling; I think I did a little too much unicycling last time during marathon training. I use a variety of marathon training guides, rather than just one source. Most say essentially the same thing, though none recommend unicycling during training(still figuring out how to use it as a cross-trainer).
As usual it felt amazing crossing that finish line, knowing all that training, even if incomplete, helped me build up my endurance to complete this race. Also all the support from my fellow runners, fellow Team Humane members and just knowing I am doing this to bring attention to a good cause made a big difference.
Another marathon completed, but so many more to run or cycle. So what’s next on the agenda? Stay tuned!
If you would like to donate, please visit my fund-raising page.
*To clear up any confusion— I want to clarify that I was running for Team Humane, not Team Aisling. The shirt worn by the many members of Team Aisling at this event looks very similar to the green Team Humane shirt; I have nothing to do with Team Aisling(great, good-humored people though!).
I’ll be joggling the Yonkers marathon on October 21, as part of Team Humane League. Yes, the hilly monster of a marathon, and second oldest marathon in the country. If you would like to donate, here is my fund-raising page. Any amount is appreciated. This is marathon #6.
I’m not aiming for a PR this year, I’m just aiming to have fun, complete the race in under 4 hours, and not drop(I haven’t dropped since my second marathon). My training has been going well so far — besides many 40+ mile weeks, I’ve also mixed in lots of unicycling for cross-training. I finished my last 2 marathons in over 4 hours, #4 due to an injury, and #5 due to fatigue issues/insufficient training. So while I’m not looking to set a PR, I’m hoping to make a comeback by completing in under 4 hours like I did at my first 3 marathons.
I’m currently in tapering mode but I’ll do one last semi-long run before the race. I feel so ready I feel I could run the race this weekend, and I feel confident I can return to sub-3 hour marathon running.
Thanks for your support!
A few weeks ago I did a post about interleaving and for the most part I’ve been using this innovative learning strategy for learning new unicycle skills since then. In case you’ve forgotten, interleaving is a learning strategy that involves mixing things up instead of focusing on just one skill at a time. So far it appears to be working.
As you can see in the video I figured out how to juggle while idling one-footed(at least that’s how unicyclists would describe it). I even figured how to do the tricky two to one foot transition in only one practice session; I assumed it would take longer to learn the transition. Instead of a long block practice approach, I interleaved learning this skill with the closely related juggling while unicycling backwards. I would focus on one skill for 10 to 15 minutes, then switch to the other skill for 10 to 15 minutes, then back to the first skill, in an ABABA pattern for about 50 minutes to an hour or more. Of course in this heat breaks are very important.
It took a mere few weeks to learn juggling while idling one-footed though I can’t do it that well yet. I think interleaving did give me a learning boost. I also think the fact that it’s just an extension of juggling while idling two-footed, which I can do competently, was also a big help. There’s a lot of overlap, it’s really not that distinct of a skill in other words.
Since juggling while one-footed idling is a more challenging version of juggling while idling, I think it’s helping me polish my juggling while two-footed idling(sometimes the key to mastering something is to practice the more complex variation of what you’re trying to learn— you don’t even have to do the more complex variation that well to benefit from it). It would be interesting to see what happens if I try interleaving with skills that are unrelated.
It also helps that I mixed it up with juggling while unicycling backwards, which I can almost do competently now. Idling and backwards are related skills and if you can do one well it helps with learning the other. Idling is, after all, going forwards and backwards just a little.
So if you’re on a learning plateau with anything, consider experimenting with an interleaving approach or at least trying variations of what you’re trying to learn.
One of the things I love most about unicycling(and joggling) is that it’s a fun way to learn about learning. With all the different skills unicycling entails, and the difficulty of learning many of them, it’s a great opportunity to test some new learning strategies. Let’s face it, we all want to learn faster. One strategy that I recently stumbled upon is called “interleaving”, which involves mixing things up instead of focusing on one skill or area and repeating until competence is achieved. Interleaving appears to provide a boost for both academic and athletic training.
According to Scientific American, in The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning:
We’ve all heard the adage: practice makes perfect! In other words, acquiring skills takes time and effort. But how exactly does one go about learning a complex subject such as tennis, calculus, or even how to play the violin? An age-old answer is: practice one skill at a time. A beginning pianist might rehearse scales before chords. A young tennis player practices the forehand before the backhand. Learning researchers call this “blocking,” and because it is commonsensical and easy to schedule, blocking is dominant in schools, training programs, and other settings.
However another strategy promises improved results. Enter “interleaving,” a largely unheard-of technique that is capturing the attention of cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. Whereas blocking involves practicing one skill at a time before the next (for example, “skill A” before “skill B” and so on, forming the pattern “AAABBBCCC”), in interleaving one mixes, or interleaves, practice on several related skills together (forming for example the pattern “ABCABCABC”). For instance, a pianist alternates practice between scales, chords, and arpeggios, while a tennis player alternates practice between forehands, backhands, and volleys.
This sounds very promising. The research suggests it works best if you interleave similar skills. I’ve already been doing something kind of similar by practicing variations of the skill I’m trying to master, but usually on different days. However, interleaving isn’t about varying your practice every few days, it’s about variation within the same practice session.
These days I’m trying to learn how to juggle while idling one-footed on the unicycle(I can already do this with both feet on the pedals). I usually use a block approach, and after practicing this would sometimes do backwards juggling in figure 8’s, which is a similar skill that I’m much better at. This week I’ll experiment with an interleaving strategy and do 5 minute intervals of one-footed idling while juggling then backwards juggling, an ABABAB pattern and see how that goes. I hope 5 minutes is long enough. I wonder what would happen if I did intervals of unrelated skills, but I’ll try that out some other time.
I’ll let you know how it goes. If you’re struggling with learning something, consider the interleaving strategy.
I thought I’d finally do a video on how to unicycle since so many people keep asking me how to do it. It’s really not that difficult if you devote enough time to it every day.
The key things to remember are:
As far as which size unicycle to learn on, I say choose a 20″ or 24″ inch unicycle(for small children a 16″ may be best). These days most people learn on a 20″ inch unicycle — I learned on a 24″. I chose a 24″ because I wanted something that I could ride around town on, besides doing freestyle tricks. A 20″ inch unicycle is great for freestyle but it’s impractical for riding around the neighborhood. A 24″ also makes a better gateway to the larger size unicycles used for long-distance riding, like 29″, 32″ and 36″ inch unicycles.
Whatever size you choose, get plenty of practice! If you’re a runner, this is a great cross-trainer. Happy riding!
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