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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recovery, Soft Skills, and Business School

Monday, the day after the trail race is good. Today is called a day of recovery. I am not sore or tired which means no lactic acid build up with a good recovery. This is probably related to good conditioning, being free of injury, proper fluid intake, excellent pre-race meal and the 20 Km distance. For longer races like a 50 Km or 50 milers I experience lactic acid build up and a longer recovery time. Shorter distances are obviously easier on your body as you take less pounding. This is my second 20 Km and I’m surprised again as to how well I feel. For the last 11 years or so my trail races have been for 50 Km, 50 or 100 miles. So running shorter race distances is a new experience for me and I like it. I can run faster and not worry about or think about having enough energy and stamina at the end.
Self talk or self thinking is very important during a trail race or run. For me, my thoughts during the race range from” this is like a two-hour training run, I can handle this distance well, to my recent 50 Km serves me well as I have the stamina”. I also get to think about things on my mind such as marketing and publishing this book or whatever else. No one’s going to bother me or interfere with my thinking during this time. For me, running is very therapeutic since I get to think about many things and even work out issues before me. Being alone with oneself during this time is unprecedented and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The satisfaction and the joy of knowing “I can” is terrific. Incidentally, I was the only one in my age group during these last three trail competitions.
Psychological principles that I employ in addition to positive thinking include paying attention to breathing. I make certain to focus on belly breathing when I’m running downhill and to pay attention to my arms, shoulders, fingers etc. I strive to run relaxed. Sometimes, I use my imagination and think that I’m running like a gazelle, or on feathers, or imagine that my quads and hamstrings are very powerful. Being positive, running relaxed, enjoying nature, running with fellow humans can be a very strong and powerful experience. Remember, stress we place upon ourselves which is how we think about these things and that comes from our thinking process.
In the May 5, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal there is an article written by Melissa Korn and Joe Light. The article is titled “On the Lesson Plan: Feelings”. The journalists wrote that business schools do an excellent job of teaching “hard skills” like finance and accounting but not so well at teaching “soft skills” such as accepting feedback with grace and speaking respectfully to subordinates. These soft skills become more important as the employee moves up the corporate ladder and moves toward dealing with employees. What a surprise?
Columbia business school has “art of meditation”, University of California at Berkeley a class in teaching students to rein in their type A personalities, Marshall school of business and the University of Southern California is doubling its management communication for leaders class, and Stanford graduate school of business has a class teaching how to give and receive constructive feedback and to control emotional responses in conflict situations. Not everyone is happy of the so-called soft skills training. One problem is related to the teacher or professor who doesn’t have the real-world background or experience other than from reading it from a book. According to one student, a program manager at Google Inc. and a graduate of Columbia in 2008 ,reported that he learned more from interacting with classmates and study groups and leading team projects than in  a class is intended to teach leadership strategy. Further support came from De Paul University researchers. They found that managing workers and decision-making require softer skill sets such as being sensitive when delivering feedback which is most important to have as managers. However, these subjects or” soft skills” are covered in less than 15% of required classes.
First of all I object to the term “soft skills”.  For me the connotation is negative. There is nothing soft about it. Because I incorporate these characteristics and have the skills, I do not consider myself soft. One reason to bring up what is happening in the business curriculum is that another way to teach psychological principles is to take someone out on a trail run and interact with them. It would be very natural for me to teach meditation, effective communication skills, how to relax, and deal with emotional responses during a trial run. I just might take my program to the business world.


Anonymous said...

wow! Very interesting. Glad to see all your progress and hear the stories. Look forward to running sometime. Sue

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