Tag Archives: heavy ball juggling

How to joggle an entire marathon without dropping

Screenshot from 2014-01-02 22:06:36

Although I have touched on this subject before, I keep getting asked how it is possible to joggle an entire marathon without dropping by both fellow jogglers and non-jogglers alike. Although I have only completed one marathon without dropping(I dropped at the other 2 I did), these days I can often joggle for 20 miles without dropping. I hate to sound like I’m bragging; there are other jogglers who can joggle entire marathons without dropping, and I’m not a world record holder. So what is my secret? Here is how I do it:

  1. Get plenty of practice. I usually joggle 6 days a week, which adds up to about 40 to 50 miles of joggling per week. Even on the days I don’t joggle, I practice juggling for at least 20 minutes.
  2. While joggling, relax, and always maintain your posture. Take deep breaths. Approach joggling as an active meditation. Keep movements smooth, think of it as a form of dancing, or martial arts. It’s inevitable that people will try to distract you while you’re joggling, but stay focused on what you’re doing.
  3. Strength-train your upper body. In order to build endurance in your arms to enable you to juggle for many hours, you will have to strength-train your upper body about once or twice a week. I mean exercises like push-ups, curls, and pull-ups. Doing a little core work like bicycle crunches or planks may help too. I find that just a few minutes is sufficient for improving muscle endurance and circulation in my arms.
  4. Occasionally practice juggling(or joggling) with heavy balls. This is almost the same thing as #3, except it combines improving muscle memory with endurance work by targeting the muscles you use for juggling. Juggling with heavy balls for a few minutes is also a great warm up exercise before joggling, since it increases circulation to your arms.
  5. When practicing juggling, work your way up to juggling 4, 5 or more balls. Just about all jogglers are 3 ball jogglers, but if you can juggle 4 or more that will help improve your arm speed and hand eye coordination. Once you can go a few minutes without dropping, try occasionally joggling with 4, 5 or more balls. I often practice with 4 balls as part of a routine I like to call “juggle chi”. It’s basically combining juggling with T’ai Chi movements.
  6. While training, learn to do lots of tricks while joggling. This will improve your hand-eye coordination and balance. At races, keep tricks to a minimum, if you’re doing them at all, unless you’re really good at them.
  7. Joggle with fruit occasionally. This can really challenge and improve your hand-eye coordination to the point that you won’t even feel like you’re joggling when you go back to joggling with regular balls. To take it to the next level, joggle with different types of fruit or fruit of different weight and do tricks with them.
  8. Do balance work. When juggling at home, stand on one leg. Better yet, juggle with heavy balls or do lots of tricks while standing on one leg while spinning around. Or combine balance work with strength training by doing planks or other exercises on an exercise(stability) ball. Balance and coordination go hand in hand, since you are more likely to drop if you are off-balance.
  9. Hit the trails, especially hilly ones. This is the ultimate joggling challenge since hilly trails can challenge everything all at once. If you can master this, joggling on flat surfaces becomes a piece of cake. Once you become proficient at this, take it to the next level by joggling trails with fruit or heavy balls.

Heavy ball juggling and joggling

IMG_1266If you want to make juggling or joggling even more challenging(assuming you’re a proficient juggler), you can add a strength training element to it by juggling heavy balls. This can help build stamina even better than if you are using lighter juggling balls or bean bags, to prepare you for joggling marathons or if you want to build strength to juggle for hours on end. It is one of the best ways to target the muscles used for juggling.

In the above photo, the 3 red balls I am joggling with are 2.25 lb(1.02 kg) ExerBalls by Dube(they come in different weights and these are the heaviest). This may not seem like much, but after several minutes of juggling these babies while standing still you will feel exhausted, unless you’re a bodybuilder. If I try to joggle with them, I can’t go for more than a few minutes with these. Very tiring, but what a rush! You really can get a nice high from joggling with these heavy balls. It’s cardio, strength-training, and coordination training all in one!

They probably help build explosiveness; think of it sort of like juggling mini medicine balls. They are made of rubber and stuffed with lead or steel balls to add weight to them. They are kind of pricey, a set of 3 going for $60. I got mine as a gift(not from the company).

You can always try making your own from tennis balls like I have, though they are much lighter. The juggling balls I am joggling with in the photo below are tennis balls stuffed with pennies. Just cut a small slit on the side with a knife to push the pennies in, put glue or epoxy over the slit, let it dry, and then cover liberally with duct tape. These weigh about 1 lb(0.45 kg) each. I made these 2.5 years ago and have had no problems with them.

IMG_1269They are not as challenging to juggle as the heavier Exerballs, but they can still help build endurance in your arms. Since they are 1 lb each, I can joggle with these for miles and miles, but I have to be careful no one is around since if these hit someone they can hurt(the Exerballs are even more dangerous in this regard). On days when I don’t joggle, I juggle these homemade juggling balls as an upper body cardio exercise, since juggling with regular, light-weight balls isn’t much of a cardio exercise to me. So they are helpful cross-trainers, good for maintaining aerobic fitness on days I don’t run or joggle. Either of these balls are good for quick warm-up exercises before joggling with regular balls, though I usually prefer the lighter, penny-stuffed balls for warm ups.

Joggling with either of these types of heavy balls is one of the ultimate calorie-burning exercises(especially if you are running up a hill), so it’s good to try this out if you are trying to lose weight.

Just make sure you are proficient in juggling lighter balls before trying either of these. You don’t want to drop them on your feet, trust me.


Strengthen your abs to run faster

Do you want to run faster? I know, stupid question, though there may be a few runners who don’t care about their running speed. Whether or not these people are even real “runners” or not is a question for another time.

Fortunately, science continues to reveal new ways to improve speed. Besides interval training, and strength-training the leg and hip muscles(don’t forget your hips!), strengthening your ab muscles may also help improve your running speed.

According to the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, Florida:

Although strong core muscles are believed to help athletic performance, few scientific studies have been conducted to identify the effectiveness of core strength training (CST) on improving athletic performance. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of 6 weeks of CST on ground reaction forces (GRFs), stability of the lower extremity, and overall running performance in recreational and competitive runners. After a screening process, 28 healthy adults (age, 36.9 +/- 9.4 years; height, 168.4 +/- 9.6 cm; mass, 70.1 +/- 15.3 kg) volunteered and were divided randomly into 2 groups (n = 14 in each group). A test-retest design was used to assess the differences between CST (experimental) and no CST (control) on GRF measures, lower-extremity stability scores, and running performance. The GRF variables were determined by calculating peak impact, active vertical GRFs (vGRFs), and duration of the 2 horizontal GRFs (hGRFs), as measured while running across a force plate. Lower-extremity stability was assessed using the Star Excursion Balance Test. Running performance was determined by 5000-m run time measured on outdoor tracks. Six 2 (pre, post) x 2 (CST, control) mixed-design analyses of variance were used to determine the influence of CST on each dependent variable, p < 0.05. Twenty subjects completed the study (nexp = 12 and ncon = 8). A significant interaction occurred, with the CST group showing faster times in the 5000-m run after 6 weeks. However, CST did not significantly influence GRF variables and lower-leg stability. Core strength training may be an effective training method for improving performance in runners.

Emphasis mine.

So don’t forget to strength train your legs, hips, and ab muscles 2 to 3 times a week to improve your running speed. Strongers hips and abs will also help you deal with hills. The best ab exercise is the bicycle maneuver, which doesn’t require any equipment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to work your abs, just as you don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat healthy if you live in an area with a lot of wild edible plants(see my previous post), or you buy grains and legumes in bulk. It also doesn’t require a lot of time either.

As a joggler, I find that joggling with very heavy balls for half a mile seems to help exercise the abs, and build stamina and muscle memory for juggling(and help with balance), but I do not recommend this to novice jogglers. You may hit someone with one or more of the balls, and that someone may be you!