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Open Mic Friday: Meet The Joggler

Open_mic_friday When most of us go running, we leave our other passions and talents at home.  Not this week's guest.  He combines his running with a widely admired art, juggling, and he’s nothing short of amazing.

He’s a superhero to runners as he actually trains and runs races—his specialty is marathons—while juggling balls the entire distance. He makes both running and juggling look easy. 

His preferred name is The Joggler, and his mortal name is Perry Romanowski.  A competitive runner, a popular blogger, and devoted to juggling, The Joggler has a fascinating collection of stories, and you’re in for a treat reading about him.

Welcome The Joggler!

What’s your story getting started with joggling?

Perry 1 I learned how to juggle in 5th grade when a couple of hippies came into our school and taught everyone to juggle scarves.  After learning the basic pattern I was hooked. I got pretty good at 3 balls and kept at it through grade school and high school. In college I figured out 5 balls. But it wasn't until I started running back in 1992 that I figured out I could joggle.

The first time I ran a marathon was in Chicago, 1996. I knew I could joggle a little, so I thought it would be amusing to juggle during the marathon. The plan was to run with my bean bags the whole way and then joggle the last half mile.  This would really amuse the crowd as I joggled passed the finish line.

Well, the marathon was so crowded in the beginning that I started juggling for the other runners around me. We were going at a pretty slow pace and people started asking me if I was going to do that the whole way. I said, "sure". And that's what I tried to do. I made it about 19 miles before I had to stop joggling. But I thought that was pretty good for never having really practiced. From that day on, I decided I would do all my marathons joggling.

It appears there’s a growing interest in joggling.  Fad or here to stay?

As long as I’m around, joggling will be here to stay.  So, if things work out right that will be at least another 68 years.  The sport does appear to be growing buoyed on by press coverage and the Internet.  I doubt it will ever be a mainstream sport.  It’s hard enough to get people to run.  Adding juggling to the mix really filters the participants.

 How much does joggling slow down your best racing performance?

Based on my marathon times, joggling actually improves my speed.  Best joggling marathon (3:22) is better than my best non-joggling marathon (3:55).  Of course, there are a lot of factors involved but it’s possible the joggling helps me focus and allows me to go faster than I actually would.  The joggling motion fits in perfectly with the arm swinging required for running, so I doubt it slows me much.  In my early joggling career I had many more drops and my times were negatively affected.  Other jogglers have reported a speed loss of about 10% due to joggling.  That seems about right.

Perry joggling marathon If you had to give up one activity over the other, which would you stop doing—juggling or running?

Tough question!  But if forced, I’d say juggling.  Running helps keep me on track for my health related goals in a much more efficient way than juggling.  It would take many hours of juggling to equal the workout of a 5K.  Also, while running I can “read” by listening to audio books.  That’s not as easy when practicing juggling tricks.

What comment about your joggling do you enjoy hearing in races?  What comment do you get sick of hearing?

I love to hear people yell “Go Joggler!”  Years ago everyone yelled “Go Juggler!”  but apparently they’re learning.  I also love to see the looks of surprise & shock and the smiles of people as I joggle by.  I don’t tire of hearing any comments about joggling but as a runner, I tire of the same phrase that every runner gets sick of hearing, “Run Forest, Run”.

Do you ever race without juggling?

The last non-joggling race I did was the 1998 Chicago marathon.  It’s been all joggling all the time since.  This also includes all training with the exception of sprint workouts.  I’m a joggler.  I must joggle.

So what do you do when you’re not running or juggling?

I was formerly a cosmetic chemist whose job was to make formulas for hair and skin care.  A few years ago, I started writing a blogs including Just Your Average Joggler and The Beauty Brains and liked it so much, decided to do that full-time.  When I’m not writing I juggle, play the ukulele, and balance baseball caps on my nose.

Perry joggling 3 What portion of your training running do you actually spend juggling?

The majority of my training is done juggling.  Last year I logged over 2000 miles and was joggling for more than 1900 of them.  The only time I don’t joggle is when I’m doing sprint workouts.  It’s much harder to go all out when you’ve got to worry about the balls flying everywhere.

What’s the most common question you get about joggling a marathon?

The most common question I get about marathons is “How far is that?”  26.2 miles people!  The second most common question is, “Don’t your arms hurt?”  I say, “After doing a marathon, everything hurts!”

What’s the greatest challenge to joggling?

Jogglers face the same challenges as runners like tough training runs (especially speed workouts), sore muscles, lack of motivation, etc.  Uniquely, the thing that makes joggling harder is avoiding collisions with the herd of people in a running race.  When arms are flying around and people stop unexpectedly in front of you, it challenging to keep your pattern going.  This is why I always joggle off to one side and almost never in the middle of the pack.  It’s too tough.

Which blog posts have been the favorites of your readers?

I’ve gotten great feedback on some of my race reports including the London Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and the Lakefront 50/50.

Other popular posts have been:

25 Resources for Learning How To Juggle

7 Pains to Expect After Running a Marathon

How did you develop your passion for running and fitness?

When I got out of college I decided I wanted to live a healthy life.  I set of goal of living until I’m 107 years old and figured I had to start exercising to achieve it.  I began running 15 minutes 5 days a week.  I really didn’t like it much but it felt “healthy”.  A few years later a friend encouraged me to run my first 5K.  Then I did a marathon.  But it took me 8 years of running, joggling and racing before I actually “liked” running.  Now, I feel sad when I miss a day.

What’s your secret to joggling success?

Setting specific goals has fueled my joggling accomplishments.  Whether your running, juggling, or joggling, having a goal to work towards is the key to keeping up your motivation.  The hardest times I experience are the days and weeks after a big race.  My joggling suffers until I create a new goal and get started working on it. 

Perry joggling chicago 2007 Favorite race?

The Chicago Marathon.  My hometown race and the greatest crowd support of any marathon on the planet. 

Favorite distance?

Marathon.  When you finish one of these, you feel like you’ve done something special.

Greatest joggling accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was breaking the World Record for the fastest 50-mile ultra marathon done while juggling.  This was last year in the Chicago Lakefront 50/50.  I joggled the entire way stopping only to refuel, had only 4 drops and finished in 8:23.

The other notable joggling accomplishment was becoming the first joggler to be entered into the United States Running Streak Association.  I joggled at least 1 mile for 444 days in a row.  The toughest was the day after the 50 miler.

Current joggling goals?

I still dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon as a joggler.  I’ve gotten as close as 2 minutes away.  Hopefully, next year.   My other goal is to joggle the 100 mile ultra marathon.  No one has ever done this.

Running hero?

My joggling hero is Canadian joggler Michal Kapral.  He set the standard by which all joggling marathoners will be judged.  A 2:50 marathon while juggling is just incredible!

What’s going on in your life outside of running?

I’m married to a wonderful, supportive wife who doesn’t joggle, but will occasionally run with me while I joggle.  We love living in the city of Chicago and frequently go out with friends.  I recently stopped working in corporate America and spend my time writing for websites I’ve created, inventing new products, and encouraging people to figure out what their dreams are & to follow them.

If money could buy you a joggling dream, what would it be?

Setting the world record for the fastest joggling marathon.  Michal Kapral currently holds the record at 2:50.  I would love to be able to joggle a marathon that fast. 

Best running advice you’ve ever been given?

To get faster, you have to train faster. 

Best running advice you’d like to share?

You don’t get to pick what you’re good at.  If you happen to find it, no matter how silly it seems, go out and be great.  That’s why I joggle. 


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Hi Perry! Great interview.


Wow you are truly outstanding, i am an 18 year old student and i would love to do that someday. I am actually going to joggle a 5K in March of '09

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