It has been eight days since I first incorporated the arts of juggling and running (a notion typically known as “joggling”) and I have one primary conclusion: the learning curve was much less steep than I was expecting.
A week into joggling, I find that I no longer really worry about dropping (which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen, but it’s not much of an issue), I’ve been able to leave the safety of a flat paved bike path behind (and joggle on trails and roads open to traffic) and it doesn’t slow me down all that much.
Things have improved quickly.
But don’t take my word for it. Thanks to the magical Garmin Forerunner 305, which displays the pace from my runs graphically, we are able to easily discern improvements in the majority of the aforementioned elements.
For instance, here is a graph of my pace from my inaugural joggling session last Monday, in which I covered seven miles at 7:36/mile pace (click any of these for a larger view; also I inverted the colors because it seems like the graphs show up a little better).
Each of the spikes in the graph, as you might expect, are drops, when I lose all momentum previously acquired in the blatant pursuit of the errant spheres.
In other words, I make up for having dropped the ball. Literally.
Anyway, some spikes are less pronounced than others (sometimes I can catch a drop on the bounce and continue without losing much in the way of pace), but I count at least 30. That’s not too bad given that it was spread out over seven miles; in fact, it’s a far better ratio (we’ll call it 4.5:1) than I was anticipating.
Now, compare said ratio to my second joggling session, a run of approximately four miles at 7:07/mile pace (a 30 second improvement from session one).
The key thing here is the first two miles, when I was joggling normally (this implies the traditional three ball cascade pattern). We see about six drops in the first two miles, a 3:1 ratio.
In the latter half of the run, I deviated from the traditional pattern and incorporated what would be, were I not extremely committed to having this habit seen as an athletic pursuit rather than a performance, be called “tricks.” So we have a lot more drops in that stage, which is fun.
Flash ahead to the third joggling session, a shorter one in which three miles were covered at 6:34/mile pace (again, a thirty second improvement on top of session two).
Here, in the true turning point of training, we witness a nearly flat graph. In these three miles, I had only three drops- a minor one about 0.1 miles in, a typical drop at 0.4 miles and then, an amazing 2.4 miles of non-stop joggling later, the final drop of the day at the 2.8 mile mark.
The ratio improves to 1:1, and we have something we call progress.
Ultimately, that ratio needs to sink lower and lower (the current marathon joggling record dropped maybe twice over the course of 26.2), but it’s already at a minimal level. Which means I’ve been able to concentrate on other areas of joggling exploration. Saturday I took the act off the bike path and on to normal, open-to-traffic (although fairly calm) roads (3.5 miles at 7:08/mile pace), and today I actually joggled a somewhat technical trail near my house with some pretty decent uphills and downhills (3.9 miles at 7:22/mile pace). There were a few more drops because of those factors, but they were quite satisfying achievements for having undertaken said endeavour for the first time a week ago.
If you’re interested (unlikely), here’s the Garmin data for Saturday’s road run (note: for these last two graphs, you can’t presume everything spike is a drop, since the natural uphills and downhills in the course meant there was a natural fluctuation in pace).
And Monday’s trail run.