We first learned of Lenny Ferman from his excellent showing at this year’s IJA Joggling Championships. He won the 3-ball 800 and 1600 events. We were fortunate to get this Jacksonville, Florida native to answer a few questions about his joggling life.
JYAJ: When did you start joggling?
FERMAN: I started in April, 2006. There was a one mile joggling race on the track at Florida State University during the April Fool’s juggling festival. I had no idea how to joggle, and nearly ran smack into a steeplechase barrier. But it was fun, and I was determined to learn how to do it.
JYAJ: Why did you start joggling?
FERMAN: I had been a competitive runner since high school with a personal best mile time of 4:20. More recently, in 2005, I won the silver medal in the 1500 meter run at the World Master Games, and could still run a sub 4:40 mile at age 41. I didn’t start juggling until I was 35, and didn’t attend my first juggling convention until 42. At that first convention I learned about the sport of joggling and I thought, wow, I could be competitive at that. Once I learned about the IJA Joggling Championships, that became my goal, and I hadn’t even tried joggling yet. I just knew this was going to be my sport, and I became determined to learn how to do it.
JYAJ: How many races have you done while joggling?
FERMAN: About 10. My longest run was the River Run 15k in Jacksonville. But I’m really a middle distance runner. That’s why I loved running at the the IJA Joggling Championships. It was a track meet. And I’m an old time track athlete.
JYAJ: What are some of your favorites?
FERMAN: IJA was my favorite by far. It was the first time I ever ran against another joggler. And the track meet was run very professionally. Bill Giduz deserves a lot of credit for putting on a first class meet, and providing us with a true world championship for the sport.
JYAJ: What is your best story about joggling?
FERMAN: My best story is my first IJA race, the 800 meters. This was the first time I had ever joggled against anyone, and I was very excited to finally get to the starting line at IJA, which had been my goal for a year. When the gun went off I completely forgot everything I had ever learned about juggling and joggling. My old track instincts took over and told me to accelerate as fast as you can. Unfortunately, physics got in the way. Since the juggling balls don’t accelerate after they leave your hands, if you accelerate, then you run into the balls. As a result I dropped on my 2nd or 3rd throw.
In an 800 meters, the race is so short that you don’t have time to drop and pick-up and still be competitive, so I started to panic. Which of course led to another drop. Now, I looked ahead and the leaders were literally running away from me, and I was still trying to start the race. Of course all of this must have taken a few seconds, but it seemed like a long nightmare to me. Once I got my act together I ran the race of my life and I took the lead on the final turn and won by 30 meters. It was a great lesson in perseverance. If I hadn’t trained as hard as I did and focused on that day, I might have packed it in when I had those early drops. But I never let myself give up.
JYAJ: What kind of training do you do?
FERMAN: I joggle on most of my runs. I find that joggling is the very best workout you can do. It works all your muscle groups and puts you into the zone since you are immersed in a full mind-body experience. There is really nothing like it. I basically have converted all my old track workouts to joggling workouts. So I’ll do tempo runs, intervals and long runs all while joggling.
JYAJ: How long do you think you will keep joggling?
FERMAN: Joggling is the future of running. I will joggle for the rest of my life. It’s an amazing workout. It’s a total mind-body experience. It’s a positive addiction. And its entertaining. I love all the great feedback I get whenever I go joggling for a workout. I know I’ve made someone’s day, or given someone something interesting to talk about. My goal now is to create more jogglers.
JYAJ: Do you eat a special diet?
FERMAN: I try to eat a well balanced diet and stay away from junk food and processed foods.
JYAJ: Do you have any advice for would-be jogglers?
FERMAN: My advice depends on whether you’re starting out as a runner or as a juggler. To runners I say, learn to juggle, and you can be a joggler in no time. It takes all the positive things you love about running and goes to another level. To jugglers I say, you can do this now, and it will help you get in great shape. It will increase your endurance and that will ultimately help your juggling as well.
JYAJ: Where do you see the sport of joggling in 10 years?
FERMAN: I’d like to think that joggling will hit a boom in 10 years, once we can get a critical mass of jogglers in each major running center. I’d also like to see the IJA Joggling championships grow to where there are hundreds of jogglers. I’d also like to see joggling divisions in local 5k road races, but I think that judging would be very difficult. How would you be able to know if someone joggled the entire race?
JYAJ: Any final advice?
FERMAN: I’d like to share the key insight for how to joggle that I had to learn the hard way since I had no coach or mentor. The breakthrough for me was when I learned that the natural arm motion in running is essentially the same as the three ball cascade motion. So, my joggling thoughts became simply “release – catch” as my arms moved forward and backward with the joggling balls. Once I understood this, I realized that joggling is not really doing two things at once as most people think, but rather its really one thing, an integrated running/juggling motion.
JYAJ: That’s some great advice Lenny. Thanks so much for the helpful information and stories. Good luck with your joggling career and we too hope that your vision of joggling in 10 years is realized!
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