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!
Posted in fitness
Tagged balance, Bronxville, circus arts, cross-training for runners, how to unicycle, New York, unicycling, unicyclist, vegan, vegan athlete, vegan runners, vegan running, VeganRunCrew, westchester county, yonkers
At the Yonkers marathon last year
As I’m sure many of you already know, on October 18th I will joggle the Yonkers marathon for the 3rd time, my 4th marathon overall. I’m really excited about it this year because it’s on an almost entirely new route. The first several miles are the same as last year, but instead of being a double loop, it’s one big loop that incorporates much of eastern Yonkers with all its glorious hills. Another reason I’m excited is because it’s in the middle of October instead of the end of September like the last few years, so I’m expecting much cooler weather this time around.
My goal is to finish in 3:30, compared to 3:40 last year. I also hope to run the entire race without dropping, just like last year. Even I’m still surprised I managed to joggle the entire marathon without dropping. It was blissful how all that training paid off, much to the enjoyment of friends and the enthusiastic crowds at the marathon. A big thank you to all my friends and supporters, I couldn’t do it without you. Well, maybe I could, but it wouldn’t be as fun. Let’s continue to take vegan athletics to new heights!
See you there!
With 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?
Posted in joggling, running
Tagged breaking speed record, hill running Yonkers, interval training to improve speed, joggling marathon training, juggle chi, Lenoir Preserve, running to Connecticut, running up hills benefits, running Yonkers, stretching is useless for runners, Tai Chi, yonkers
A few days ago while joggling around the neighborhood on a brilliantly sunny though breezy day, this man who was driving down the street told me “I really love your shtick!”. I took it as a compliment, but he drove off so fast I couldn’t respond or at least say “thanks”. This compliment got me thinking: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had their own shtick when it came to fitness?
What is a “shtick” anyway? “Shtick” is one of those unmistakable Yiddish words that has made its way into mainstream English, largely due to the influence of American Jewish comedians. It originally meant “piece”, but nowadays it has multiple meanings, usually meaning something like “gimmick”, or “talent”, or “eccentricity”, or “comedic theme”. A “shtick” is often an important part of a famous person’s persona or an essential part of their act. Jeff Foxworthy’s shtick are his “you might be a redneck…” jokes.
It isn’t always meant to be comedic, but is usually is. People who aren’t comedians can have “shticks” – my shtick is juggling while running(though there are some others who do this, there aren’t any others in the town I live in). Some people may think calling joggling a “shtick” is a mild insult, as if it implies it is silly or ridiculous. Thing is, last time I checked, there’s nothing about fitness and ridiculousness that makes them incompatible. I am both fit and ridiculous; indeed, I think I am as fit as I am because of my ridiculousness. It feels great making people laugh while I train.
I think everyone should adopt a shtick to help them stick to their fitness routine. Put your own personal stamp on it. Make people laugh or try to be unforgettable. It doesn’t have to be joggling, it can be yodeling while cycling or wearing ridiculous outfits. Don’t be afraid of being ridiculous, embrace your ridiculous side. Ridiculousness in the service of fitness is no vice.
Posted in fitness, joggling, running, vegan
Tagged Bronxville, comedy juggling, famous shticks, Jeff Foxworthy, Jewish comedians, joggling as a shtick, jugglers Westchester, Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon joggler, shtick, Yiddish terms, Yiddish words, yonkers
A lot of runners hate hills, and avoid them like the plague. But you really should see hills as your friends, since they are a great opportunity to improve your running and burn some extra calories.
According to fitness expert Liz Neporent:
For every additional 5 percent of grade (a modest uptick in the landscape), a 150-pound exerciser will burn an extra three to five calories per minute.
So if you are trying to burn some extra calories, or just want to challenge yourself more, go find a hilly area to run in. As for me, I’ve learned to love hills over the years, after initially avoiding them. Injuries I’ve had made for a difficult relationship with hills year back.
Hills are kind of difficult to avoid in most of Westchester county, so I had to make peace with them and have become much better as a runner thanks to them. I think running on hilly terrain has even helped me improve my running speed on flatter surfaces. Just remember that running up hills is harder on your heart, while running down is harder on your legs.
Go run for the hills!
Posted in fitness, joggling, New York, running
Tagged calorie burn while running hills, don't avoid hills while running, hills are great for runners, how hilly is Westchester county, Liz Neporent, making running more challening, running hills, running on hilly terrain, Scarsdale, westchester county, White Plains, yonkers
The Lenoir Preserve is a 40 acre park in Yonkers, NY, overlooking the Hudson river. It is comprised of both dense forests and fields, with a narrow step trail that leads downward toward the Hudson river and the Croton Aqueduct trail. Much of the park is very steep, and you may spot a deer or two if you walk around enough. This is one of many nature preserves in Westchester county that used to be part of a grand estate long ago, and traces of it can still be seen throughout.
There is a wonderful little butterfly garden in the preserve with many flowers and a big peach tree. Raspberries grow wild throughout much of the preserve as well.
This place is an excellent starting point for a long walk or run along the Croton Aqueduct trail. Admission is free.
Posted in fitness, New York, trails/outdoors
Tagged Croton Aqueduct Trail, historical sites Westchester, Hudson river, Lenoir Preserve, nature preserves in New York, nature preserves of Westchester county, peach tree, raspberries, raspberries NY, yonkers, Yonkers historical sites
If 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.
They 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.
Posted in equipment, fitness, joggling, Juggling, running, trails/outdoors
Tagged Exerballs, extreme juggling, Hastings, heavy ball juggling, heavy balls, Irvington, juggling as cross-training, juggling exercise, juggling medicine balls, lead balls, losing weight, make your own juggling balls, making juggling balls, medicine balls, steel balls, tennis balls, ultimate exercise, upper body cardio, weight loss, weight loss strategies, westchester, yonkers
This is a new record for me, joggling 20.5 miles. It took me 3 hours and 42 minutes to complete this journey yesterday. The magenta line on the map above was my path, starting in the south in northern Mount Vernon then following the South County trail(A former rail line) all the way up almost to Elmsford and back to Mount Vernon. The weather was dry and mostly sunny, with the temperature rising from just below 75 F(23.8 C) to almost 80 F(26.6 C) toward the end of the run in the early afternoon. I brought juice with me and had a very short break from juggling(but not running) to drink it on the return trip.
Even though I went further than my 18 mile adventure to White Plains, my overall pace has improved: 10 minutes, 50 seconds per mile this time, versus 11 minutes, 40 seconds per mile on the White Plains run. To improve my speed, I did no tricks except for “tennis” occasionally, and I dropped the balls only once during the entire run. This is yet another record, since I went 2 hours and 35 minutes(about 15 miles) before my first drop.
The South County trail is great for running and cycling. The entire trail is paved and smooth, unlike most of the Croton Aqueduct trail, so a lot of cyclists go at maximum speed. It stretches 14.1 miles from the Bronx all the way up to Elmsford in the north. It runs parallel and very close to the Saw Mill Parkway much of the time and at times highway 87. From Yonkers to about Hastings, it runs through some light industrial areas, but becomes more forested as you go further north. The trail does occasionally cross some streets, and there are few steep hills. Overall, it is less picturesque than the Croton Aqueduct trail which overlooks the Hudson river in some areas and is to the west.
The North County trail(which I am less familiar with), and South County trail, which is the one I ran on, are really the same trail, separated by a gap in the village of Elmsford. I believe they are currently working on connecting them, since the entire trail is built on an abandoned rail line. Once they are connected, this means a bike trail connecting the Bronx to Putnam county!
I’ll be drinking a lot of cherry juice, and eating a lot of nuts to help me heal from this very long run. As usual, my legs feel a more sore than my arms.
Posted in exercise, fitness, joggling, Juggling, New York, running, trails/outdoors
Tagged Hastings-On-Hudson, Irish famine park, route 87, Saw Mill Parkway, South County trail, Westchester trails, yonkers
I hope everyone is is having a wonderful spring so far, and that you all have a terrific Memorial day weekend.
Today I managed to joggle for nearly 15 miles, much of the time in a thunderstorm. The above map of western Westchester county, New York, shows my crazy journey from the “start” at the bottom, following the magenta line(the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail) 7.6 miles north to Tarrytown, then back to Yonkers(I started and ended at the Lenoir Preserve). The first 45 minutes or so were pleasant enough since the weather was still mostly dry. It got worse a lot later. It eventually got so bad that I had to go inside a pharmacy for nearly an hour because of the frequency of the lightning, with one lightning bolt striking about 50 feet in front of me. It was really scary! Besides this, I was completely soaked, so my return journey took me a lot longer. The rain also made my smart-phone malfunction, so I don’t even know what my exact timing was.
Not only was I soaked due to the extremely heavy rain, but I slipped on some mud in a hilly area and scrapped my hand. It got a little bloody, but there were no vampires around so I had little to worry about. This didn’t compromise my juggling ability though. The mud, huge puddles, and rushing water(there was a flash flood alert for the area) made me stop juggling in some areas so I ended up running or skipping briefly. Still, I managed to joggle about 85% to 90% of the time. I did drop the balls a few times, ironically near the beginning of the run when conditions were still mostly dry. It’s funny how the lightning bolts, thunder, and heavy rain later on didn’t make me drop for the most part.
Why do I do these crazy kinds of things? I guess I just love the challenge. I love to experiment. I like having nature as an adversary. Some of my best ideas come to me in difficult situations like this, so it is hard to resist. But just because I do it, doesn’t mean I am recommending it. You don’t need to do crazy things like me to stay fit. There is nothing “heroic” about what I do. I am under no illusion that I am some kind of “hero” – the coming Memorial Day is for remembering the real America heroes who risk their lives to keep us safe.
I mostly had a spectacular time, though at times I did regret being out there during the worst of it. Sure, I am crazy, but don’t worry, you won’t be seeing any “Joggling 12 miles in Syria” posts any time soon.
The big river that the trail runs mostly parallel with is the Hudson river. The run started in the lower right hand side of the map in Yonkers and went north to Tarrytown, then I turned around and ran back to north Yonkers.
Showing the trail from even higher up. The red line in the middle was the trail run. This shows that the trail is just a little north of New York City.
Posted in fitness, joggling, New York, running, trails/outdoors
Tagged correr bajo la lluvia, Croton Aqueduct, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-On-Hudson, hiking north of New York City, hiking trails in New York, joggling in the rain, lightning, lightning bolt, Memorial day, Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, running in a thunderstorm, running in the rain, Sleepy Hollow, Syria, Syrian civil war, Tarrytown, thunderstorm, trails of New York, westchester, Westchester country, yonkers