Monday, December 19, 2016

The Shell Game

I recently heard a comment from a fellow senior athlete that he was just a shell of his former self. He couldn't get excited about doing eight minute miles when once he averaged five minutes per mile. Aging is inevitable, but that doesn't mean we don't have some say in how we age. Everything we do affects how fast we age. What we eat and drink, the amount of stress in our lives, even our exercise habits, will all determine how our bodies react to aging. But does switching to a healthier life style extend our lives, or does it merely improve our quality of life as we age?

Extensive research is being conducted on the affects of aging and possibilities of slowing or even reversing it's affects. San Diego, California, is where a lot of this research is being done. The Salk Institute, Scripps Health, and Human Longevity are all doing ground breaking research on aging. They are examining everything from stem cells to cell regeneration. The belief is that the human lifespan could be much longer. The researchers discovered that when cells divide, proteins, called telomeres, shorten, contributing to some of the conditions associated with aging. Through their studies, it was also determined that a person was usually more concerned with a better quality of life than just a longer life.

Elizabeth Blackburn, President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, states, “Psychological habits such as training to focus one’s attention, avoiding habitual pessimism, reducing stress-inducing things in life that are within our control and cultivating a few close friendships can help increase the quality of our lives, as well as, the longevity. Good sleep patterns and exercise, along with the avoidance of sugar and refined carbohydrates, will also help”. These activities help maintain the length of the cells telomere proteins, minimizing the affects of aging.

How interesting that making an effort to be happy is one of the healthiest changes we can make in our lives. It's clear from Dr. Blackburn's comments that exercise and eating a healthy diet are just pieces to the puzzle of aging. Staying positive, optimistic, having a friend and a hobby all contribute to slow the aging process. Perhaps she is right. All we have to do is believe it and get started. A happy, active, mind and an active, healthy, body are a winning combination.

It's not just a step, it's a start.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Be the Boss!

There is an old saying, "If you don't like the way things are, and you are the boss, it's your fault"!  That's kind of how it is with all of us.  We are, each of us, the boss over everything we say and do, period, no discussion.  So how do we feel so out of control sometimes?

I've been on the planet for a long time.  I've spent the most of those years in the company of warriors and athletes.  Men and women who spend a life time learning to be more in control.  They are very moral, honest and kind.  But sometimes even those men and women of war and sport lose sight of the fact that they are masters of their heart, mind and body.  Not because they are afraid to be the boss but because it's gets hard to tell which decisions are right and which are wrong.

We are constantly bombarded with mixed signals.  Especially from the media, corporate advertising and the government.  When I was young my heroes all smoked cigarettes, of course I smoked, it was wholesome and good, it was how the tough guys and gals relaxed.  Now there is nothing more wholesome than a coke, even though, in the back of our mind, we know that a soft drink is a chemical mix that may very well, be killing us slowly.  How about a big bowl of canned, high salt, soup and a grilled cheese made with bread that is bleached white flour and cheese that is processed and contains lots of ugly little secrets. Yep that's wholesome.
We see on the news that what we thought all our lives is wrong is now right and things we thought were right are now wrong.  We see experts on TV telling us exactly opposite points of view.  One political party is telling us the other party is responsible for everything bad and if we will just elect them, before it's to late, they will fix it. Drug companies  tell us that they have a remedy for everything.  There is a supplement for everything your body needs. Want to lose excess body fat, yep, there is a supplement for that.
Now back to those warriors and athletes, with the mixed messages they are getting, it's hard to know what is the right and the wrong thing to do.  There is no black and white, there never has been, that's why we have so much self doubt. So how do we know what decisions are right.  We don't, we just have to have the courage to follow what our hearts tell us is right. Just because we get justification for eating, drinking or taking something from TV advertising doesn't mean we should indulge in it.

Regaining your position as the boss requires being firm in your commitments.  It means making the hard decisions and following through with them.  If you start feeling weak, remember that someone is depending on you to get them through it.  You are that someone that is depending on your own strength of character.  We go to work when sometimes we really don't feel like it, why can't we take that kind of commitment over into everything we do.  When it's time to do your workout and you really don't feel like it, then it's time to be the boss and do it. When any situation comes up don't allow your self to take the easy way out, do the right things instead.     

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Have You Rested Long Enough Yet?

How long has it been since you had an active life?  How long have you been sitting and watching others live?  How long have you been a sports fan and not an athlete?  What is it you are waiting for, haven't you rested long enough yet?  Haven't you been ready to get up for a long time but thought that you couldn't, that the time was past.  Well the time has not passed and you can regain that active life again, even if the last time you were a participant was high school, or maybe not even then.

When was the last time you did something that was hard but you got through it and felt on top of the world.  Just starting back can be hard, but the rewards are health, strength and pride.  People who get up go to work, come home, watch TV and then go to bed don't usually go to bed proud of their day and excited about tomorrow.

Most of you reading this have already made the decision to lead an active life and know exactly what I'm talking about.  There is no comparison, we have an amazing life simply because we did make that decision.  We have learned that health and wellness greatly trump living a life of sickness and inactivity.  We are all of us candles shinning in the darkness, lighting the way back from that kind of self destruction. We can't stop people from ruining their health with a diet of chemicals, fat and sugar mixed together and sold as food.  We can't stop people from smoking, drinking and being obese. What we can do is continue to be examples of a better way.We can show with our determination, to better ourselves, what is possible.
My peer group is made up of men and women that are in their 50's and above, who are in perfect health.  This group is made up of senior athletes that are strong and flexible, we are not on meds for everything from high blood pressure to sleeping aids.  We are learning things about our selves and our capabilities that most people will never know.  We go to bed tired and proud of what we accomplished during the day and we do indeed wake up excited to start our new day.  I have friends that are over 70 and still breaking records.  Think living like that is impossible?  Think again, it just requires the commitment to live life to it's fullest and not just watch life from the sidelines.
Brother and sister adult athletes, I challenge everyone to keep showing the way.  You are the answer and the cure.  Keep spreading the message and please reach out and help someone you care about get up off the couch.  Ask them, have you rested long enough?  Help them find the joy and the pride that you have.  We make up less than one percent of the population, so we are, each and every one of us, elite.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Personal Rewards

One of the strange things about us, the smartest of all living things, on this planet, is how sometimes we can make some of the dumbest decisions.  We adult athletes, with our super healthy lifestyles are no exception to that rule.  How we reward ourselves for being faithful to our healthy life style is a prime example.

We make a good informed decision that something is bad for us so we break the habit of consuming it and take it out of our diet.  Then when we have reached a goal we reward ourselves by having some.  Soft drinks are great examples of this.  However one of the things we discover after being without, for a while, is that the food or drink that we craved, just doesn't taste as good as we expected it to any more.

Rewards should be a step forward just like everything else we strive for in our lives.  Taking a day trip, to somewhere interesting, is going to be a much better reward, for reaching a tough goal, than a huge high fat and high sugar meal.  From the trip we come away with a nice memory but from the unhealthy meal we just feel guilty and bloated.  New clothes are a super gift if your goal was to loose inches and you did.  New shoes for going the distance or new shorts to show off those nice definitions, you are starting to get, in your leg muscles.  A day trip to a real running store to get your stride and foot type analyzed, so you can be fitted for the proper running or walking shoes, should be one of your first rewards.

A good healthy dinner with friends is a great reward if food is what you are craving, let the atmosphere and the company be the reward not the decadence of the food.  A big slab of salmon and steamed veggies are going to make you feel great after and not feeling like you need to take a nap, like a big meal that's high fat or full of sugar would.  If you have been eating healthy for a while, you would also feel guilty that you spent the money on food that really didn't taste very good any more.

Going to a destination race is a great goal to train for and also a wonderful reward in it's self.  New sights and an amazing experience.  Then you have all the good stuff, a reward for your efforts, lots of memories and even a medal to bring home.  Put some effort into planning your rewards, that makes them even more special.  You changed your life style, that means you also should change the way you reward yourself.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, June 21, 2013


In air to air combat a pilot will light the afterburners, to get the maximum performance, out of his fighter plane.  It's the equivalent  of pushing the peddle to the medal in a race car.  Afterburners are maximum all out, short duration, fuel sucking power.  But in that next few minutes only one fighter will win the other will be destroyed.  At 211 degrees water is just that hot water, but when the heat is turned up another degree it turns to steam, one of the most powerful forces in nature.

Our bodies are like that as well, we have a level of performance that is just out of reach, unless we light our own burners and turn up the heat.  That's how we are sometimes capable of amazing things.  We have all heard of those seemingly, impossible feats of strength and courage, fighting off a bear, lifting a car to rescue a child, these things happen because the usual limits were shattered.  Our own afterburners or steam is possible.  How many times have sports records been shattered by athletes?  Is that just luck or is it something else and is that something that you can train?

I believe it is.  We can't all break records but we can get better, stronger and faster.  But to do that, to reach that next level we have to be willing to push beyond our limits.  That is something that sounds easier than it is.  We have to proceed with caution because with increased performance, we have increased chance of injury.  Pushing limits is also not comfortable.  But there are indeed ways to train for increased performance.

Interval training is one way to get stronger and faster.  There are different ways do speed training but this example will give the gist of it.  I use a high school track for my speed work.  An average workout goes like this:  Always warm up good, like at least a slow mile worth of warm up.  As you get warm go just a little faster to get all the muscles warmed up.  Then go fast for a measured distance, go as fast as possible and still be able to stay strong for the full distance.  After the speed interval you need a recovery interval.  For example if your doing 400m speed intervals then you might need a 200m or even a 400m slower recovery interval.  Then you do another speed interval.  Repeat until you've done the planned workout.  Then do a slower mile to cool down.

Interval training can be used in a lot of ways depending on what you want to accomplish.  You can go at a target pace or a target heart rate.  You can do different distances depending on the race your training for and you can even do intervals on hills to build strength.  But for the purpose of doing intervals to push your limits, you need to do them a little differently.  Rather than a predetermined distance for the speed portion go out hard and go hard till you can no longer hold pace, when you feel your legs slowing down, it's time to start your recovery interval.  Each week when you do your intervals try to go a little bit further then the week before.  So each week you have a new target.  If the week before you could go hard for 400m then the next week try to push it another 25m, turn up the heat and reach for it, yes it will be uncomfortable but it will make you stronger and faster.  Then each week push it just a little further.  If you fail to go any further one week shoot for that little bit more the next week.

I was taught this method of speed work years ago and I think, even though it's low tech, it's still a good way to train.  Now the world class athletes actually get blood drawn and the blood analyzed to see if they are putting out the maximum effort.  Pushing for just a little more each week will make you stronger even if it doesn't involve blood sampling or heart rate monitoring.  A heart rate monitor is used by a lot of athletes as well to see if they are keeping their heart rate in the proper training zone.

Want to get stronger and faster?  Light your own fire and turn up the heat.  Like hot water becoming steam, just a small increase in heat can make all the difference.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 17, 2013


There is a term, "The Jail House Lawyer", it means that what you hear from someone who swears they are right might not be accurate.  Especially when that person is telling you something that although they are adamant about it, they are not a professional in that field.  They will tell you how it is, to them, but not necessarily what is true.

Kentucky has a state law that children must get an eye exam before they can register for the next school year.  That is very important because, in those states that don't require it, a child might be labeled a behavior problem when in reality all that is wrong with them is that they can't see well.  "Yeah I've seen that before that child has ADHD", how many children have been labeled that way, when all they really needed was glasses.

People tend to label others and can very well ruin that person's sense of self worth with it.  "She has a speech problem, that means she is not very smart.  So I will listen to her but not respect what she has to say".  "That fellow is from the country so he doesn't understand business so I'll make some money off him on this deal".  Those kind of labels or stereotypes have plagued some of us all our lives.  It's not that people are consciously being evil but it's human nature to want to feel superior, so they look for differences to capitalize on.

Many of us have fought an on going battle, within our selves, to keep positive and believe in ourselves.  Advertising has a field day with that little fact.  I would be a better athlete if I could just buy one of those GPS systems for my wrist, with that and it's heart rate monitor I can be my own coach.  "Fred says he got so fast because he has one and it makes all the difference".  And all those miracle pills and potions for weight loss and magic fat burning abdominal builders, just send in the money and be ready to be amazed.

It's hard to know what's real any more.  Everyone knows someone that is the resident expert on something, or in some cases everything.  What is one to believe?  It has become interesting to me that you can find testimonials for both sides of every issue on the internet.  There is an old saying, 'You should believe only half what you see and even less that your hear.'  That is as true now as it was when it was first said.

How does one deal with this?  To start with, you have to make a decision that you are just as worthy of happiness, as anyone else and nothing about your physical being should reduce that fact. Your own sense of self worth should fuel your desire, to always strive, to be a better person.  You can over come anything that you decide you can.  Your first debt in life, that you must pay, for happiness, is to earn the right to respect your self.  You owe kindness and understanding to your fellow man.  To that person you see when you look in the mirror you owe being a person worthy of their respect.

The choice is yours.  You can be defined by the labels of others or you can be defined by being someone that is above the labels, someone that can say, "This is me and I'm somebody"!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Would You Take a Shot?

Many years ago there was a movie, "Rocky", it was about a nobody amateur boxer being offered, a once in a life time, shot at the title.  Rocky had a shot and some time to train and get ready.  The movie is about how he trained and prepared for his shot.

Now most of us will never have the champion of the world, in any sport, come knocking at the door and offer us a shot at their title.  But what if we decided that we would train as though we were offered our own chance.  We would be the star of our own reality.  How awesome would it be to pull out all the stops and find out how good you could be.

What would motivate you to make the changes you have always wanted in your athlete career.  What do you desire speed, strength, endurance, a defined muscular body?  Think about it.  For many of us it's training for our first race or our next marathon.  Maybe it's a desire to reach a new level of performance.  Qualify for Boston.  Achieve the time standard for the Olympic trials. What ever it is, make a decision to take a shot.

When you decide what your goal will be, then you can start focusing on what it will take.  Look at where you are and visualize where you want to be.  Design a plan to take you there.  It may involve losing weight, strengthening your muscles, getting in more quality miles and most of all learning more about how to do all these steps.

If your dream is to begin exercising then go to the sports specialty store tomorrow, get fitted for shoes and take that first step.  If it's to make the decision to chase down a dream, then set an achievable goal. Remember "the difference between a dream and a goal is a time limit".  Each time you reach a goal, set a new one, a new step in the direction of your dream.  Before long you will be well on your way to making that dream your reality.

Is it possible?  Of course it is.  We can always get better and we don't know how far we can go, till we begin the journey.  Will you take a shot at a dream?  Or will you just dream.

Thanks for reading.