Tag Archives: westchester county

Getting even better at juggling while unicycling

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!

Improving at club juggling while idling

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?

Interleaving versus spaced practice

One thing I’ve been ruminating about lately is if the benefits of interleaving are due to it being a form of spaced practice, or if it does offer its own unique benefits. The benefits of spaced practice are already well-known, and has been recommended by many education experts for decades. According to some experts interleaving is just a form of spaced practice, according to others it isn’t.

However, a key difference between spaced practice and interleaving is that spaced practice usually involves learning the same thing, but spaced apart by a significant length of time. Sometimes the gap between practice sessions is 30 minutes, sometimes several hours. This article got me thinking: Interleaving: are we getting it all wrong?

Interleaving, on the other hand, usually involves learning variations of the same skill, at least according to some practitioners(there’s a lot of debate if interleaving works best only for similar skills rather than totally unrelated material). In my case with the unicycle, or tin whistle, I practice the same exact skill on 2 or more different sized unicycles, sometimes at 10 minute intervals(ABABABA). In other words, is the learning deeper if I learn to juggle or play tin whistle on a 20″ unicycle, or both a 20″ and 24″ unicycle?

My anecdotal experience suggests that yes it does, and in an earlier post on interleaving I did post some evidence supporting this. If you learn the same skill with different equipment, that gives your brain more data points to work with, deepening the learning, and potentially helping you learn faster. I rarely use a true spaced practice approach.

Obviously more research is needed, but until then I’ll continue to use an interleaving approach since I’m obviously doing well using it.

Related article:

Spaced and interleaved practice

New video: How to idle on a unicycle

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!

I’ll be joggling the Yonkers marathon on October 21

Screenshot from 2015-10-23 20:00:45

At the Yonkers marathon in 2015

 

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!

 

Interleaving update

 

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.

Chris Stratton’s first 100 mile unicycle ride

Screenshot from 2018-08-11 22:47:56

Map of Chris Stratton’s 100 mile ride

There’s another unicyclist in town, and his distance riding puts me to shame. Chris Stratton, from Manhattan, who I rode with last year in the Brooklyn portion of the NYC Unicycle fest just completed his first century(100 mile) ride along the Putnam trail from the Bronx up to Brewster and back. What an amazing accomplishment! My longest ride is only 20 miles, also on the Putnam trail. You can read about his epic experience here: My First Unicycle Century

How to ride a unicycle

 

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:

  • Practice in a flat area along a long wall or fence — the longer the better.
  • Lean forward to gain forward momentum.
  • Try to keep most of your weight in the seat though this isn’t absolutely essential early on. With time you’ll likely end up doing this without thinking.
  • When breaking free from the fence or wall use your arms to help you balance.
  • Patience, practice and perseverance.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger

Screenshot from 2018-07-01 12:19:43

There are so many choices these days when it comes to plant-based burgers, it’s never been easier to go meatless during grilling season.

One of my current favorites is Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger. It tastes great! It’s savory and kind of beefy, and it also has a “meaty” texture which I enjoy. I love it with tomato, onion and arugula. This was yummy and very filling. Also easy to prepare. Plant-based burgers or veggie burgers have come a long way over the past 2 decades. I remember when I first went vegan how bland most veggie burgers were, and there was little choice. Now there’s a plethora of options.

The Beyond burger, another one of my favorites, tastes beefy to the point that some non-vegans are fooled into thinking it is beef and some vegans find the beefiness disturbing or unpleasant. I think the Gardein burger is nearly as good as the Beyond burger, which is typically pricier.

What is your favorite plant-based burger? Or do you prefer to make your own? If you prefer making your own, please share your favorite recipe!

Paine to Pain 2017 Race Report

Screenshot from 2017-10-10 07-38-35

Nearly two weeks ago I completed the Paine to Pain trail half-marathon, my second official half-marathon. It wasn’t that much different from last year except that I didn’t juggle this time and it was warmer and it rained a little. Obviously, not juggling is part of the reason I completed the race in 1:50, 11 minutes faster than last year. However, I did juggle while training, and even did a little joggling while warming up before the race. It seems not juggling during this race disappointed some spectators who had expected me to juggle.

I really love this race. It’s so steeped in history and celebrates Thomas Paine, one of the few Founding Fathers strongly opposed to slavery, among other progressive stances. This was the 10th anniversary of the race, it has become something of a New Rochelle tradition.

So why didn’t I juggle this time? I was concerned about having a mishap on the narrow, rocky trail, but I also wanted to see how much faster I would be without juggling. Though I didn’t fall last year, I did drop the balls 4 times and came close to spraining my ankle. This year I did trip a few times but didn’t fall to the ground since I quickly regained my footing.

The race started at 9, but since most of this race takes place on a rocky, narrow trail there are different waves that start at different times. I was in wave 3. Much of mile 1 was on the street, but once you’re on the trail it is wickedly rocky and hilly. I took it easy for the first few miles, but after this started passing a lot of runners whenever the trail allowed for it.

Even when I’m not joggling, I’m joggling: My arms still automatically make a juggling motion while running because they’re so used to juggling while running. This is hardly a problem and fortunately nothing trains you to have perfect running form more than joggling. For this reason, adding joggling to your training regimen may prove beneficial even if you don’t plan on doing it at races. I’m not sure if all the unicycling I do helps with form or balance while running, but it probably helps push my cardiovascular fitness to the max without having to worry about a running overuse injury.

Several miles in, the crowd of runners thins out and I started picking up the pace. This big, rocky hill in Saxon woods slowed me down a little, but I continued to pass more runners. In some parts of the woods the summer greenery is holding out, but in others the dazzling reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn are working their magic.

Midway in I felt terrific. I was wet both from my sweat and from the drizzle, and I was still getting faster. Approaching Twin Lakes I was in very familiar territory, I could almost run it blindfolded. Then next thing we know, the finish line is only 2 miles away, and I grab my last cup of water from the aid station. I went all out until the end. My fastest mile was mile 12, a 6:56/mile pace; although my legs felt strong and I felt great otherwise, I felt a little nauseous running so fast. Average pace for the entire race was 8:13/mile.

It felt a little awkward crossing that finish line without juggling but what a glorious feeling it was. My recovery is going well so far. Representing Team Humane, any support is appreciated.

Screenshot from 2017-10-16 12-19-30