Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: November 2011
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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moses,Steve Jobs,Lew Hollander ,and Mental Toughness

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone."– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Throughout history there are numerous examples of historical figures that have demonstrated mental toughness, will, courage, perseverance, grit, while dealing with extraordinary and unique situations.  Thinking back to the Old Testament, the Prophet Moses comes to mind.  From birth to death he demonstrated over and over, the ability to persist and endure. Even though he was inspired by God, he still faced human struggles from dealing with the Egyptian Pharaoh to leading the undisciplined Israelite slaves into the desert for 40 years.  It is easy to admire his strength, his determination, in accomplishing this Herculean task of leading his people from slavery into freedom.
Other famous figures that come to mind include Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan the great conquerors of peoples and cultures.  Not to overload their ruthlessness, aggressiveness, and brutality, these men were not only leaders but also demonstrated mental and physical toughness. These tyrants were mostly feared while on their war campaigns.
Another individual from history that stands out Is Joan of Arc the French peasant, who led her people in battle.  The fact that she was divinely inspired does not in any way diminish what she accomplished.  One can easily say that she was one tough woman, who demonstrated the ability to endure pain and fight against insurmountable odds.
We also look to fairy tales and find examples of toughness of mental quality.  How about Cinderella, who demonstrated and put up with unfair physical and mental abuse?  Certainly the mean stepsisters treated her inhumanely and apparently did not think anything of it.  Cinderella bit her tongue, while being treated second class, to say the least.  Now in the fairytale, there is an intervention and she winds up with Prince.  We know that does not always happen.
In my book, “It Has Nothing to Do with Age”   Lew Hollander is a good example of an individual that fits the characterization of being mentally tough.  For those of you who do not know, Lew at age 81 this year completed the Hawaiian Iron man resulting in him being the oldest to accomplish this task.   Read his story especially about his early childhood for clues and secrets into his psychology .Secretariat’s toughness and competitive nature comes to the surface when he is racing somebody on the trail.  He wants to win, and it does not seem to matter if he knows the person or not.  Oh by the way, his older brother used to pick on him when he was a kid and of course that changed when he became older and stronger.  Steve Jobs’ competitive and mental toughness was also apparent.  Such things as being adopted, intelligent, aggressive, and experiencing failure over and over likely contribute to his toughness.
How does a person develop being mentally tough?  Does it have something to do with childhood i.e. Moses being adopted, reared in royalty, going through an identity crisis, finding God, leading unruly  and undisciplined slaves in the desert ?  Not everyone is neither mentally nor physically tough.  The “why “and the “how “a person becomes or develops this persistence or grit is a subject worth exploring. Don’t you agree?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overdose, Prescription Painkillers,Nobel Winner Kahneman,and Rational Choices

 In the November 21, 2011 issue of Time was an article that stated within the last 10 years, more Americans died from an overdose of prescription painkillers than from heroin and cocaine use combined.  In the article, it is believed that most of the deaths were related to achieve a narcotic high as supposed to treating pain.  For example, recreational abuse has increased by 300% in sales for drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone.  Once the users get hooked on these drugs, the more they crave.
So what may start out as a legitimate use to relieve pain can result in the misuse of these medications?  And apparently these individuals who are misusing medication are clever enough to keep themselves supplied.  How many years have we had a war on “illegal drugs?” That war has been an apparent failure.  Perhaps it might be more beneficial to legalize these drugs and establish some mechanism to deal with all drugs-prescription and nonprescription.
We know there are other treatments other than medication to treat pain.  I have an insurance plan that deals with only prescription medication.  The other techniques such as yoga, hypnosis, progressive relaxation, and fitness are generally not covered by medical insurance. It would seem to me that before ingesting a pill, some of these other treatments would be considered.  In order to do that, one would have to deal with the drug and insurance industries. Another possibility for change is by educating the public about the other treatments available.  I know taking a pill is easy and quick so that changing attitudes is a difficult challenge.
Yesterday during my run, I experienced some discomfort.  I did take Advil and iced for 30 minutes three times.  Today, I have no discomfort.   In thinking back, I have run about two consecutive weeks without a day off.  Now is my chance to take a day off.  I want to be ready to run again since Secretariat returns from Southern California today.
In the Time issue dated November 28, 2011, there was a question presented to psychologist and Nobel winning economist Daniel Kahneman on why people do not make rational choices “what is your favorite experiment that demonstrates our blindness to our own blindness?”  His response: it is one someone else did.  During the 90s, when there was terrorist activity in Thailand, people were asked how much they’d pay for a travel insurance policy that pays $100,000, in case of death for any reason.  Others were asked how much they’d pay for a policy that pays $100,000 for death in a terrorist act.  And people will pay more for the second even though it is less likely. Dr. Kahneman stated “we are normally blind about our own blindness.  We are generally overconfident in our own opinions and our impressions and judgments.  We exaggerate how knowledgeable the world is.”
Make sure to have your eyes checked, and to wear the proper sunglasses when you are in the sun in order to reduce blindness? "Pain is a part of being alive, and we need to learn that. Pain does not last forever, nor is it necessarily unbeatable, and we need to be taught that."– Harold Kushner

Monday, November 28, 2011

Napping After a Meal,Birthdays and Western States Trail

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead to sovereign power."– Alfred Tennyson
In a November 22, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal, there was a brief article about napping after a heavy meal.  This napping is commonly referred to as a food coma.  However, what causes this postprandial somnolence is not clear. There is a popular belief that this sleepiness is caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain as the blood rushes from the head to the stomach to aid with digestion.  Unfortunately, this is just a belief and is not a fact.  Some ideas as to the cause of the sleepiness are as follows: 1.   Sleepiness is associated with changes in certain hormones induced by food. 2.  Sleepiness is simply feeling weighted down by a large amount of food sitting in your stomach. 3.  Sleepiness is caused by our bodies that are wired to feel tired during the afternoons and evenings, when there is a natural dip in the circadian rhythm. A person with a normal sleep wake cycle typically feels sluggish around 1 PM to 3 PM and again just after midnight.  Sitting around after a satisfying meal might make it that much easier to doze off. 4.  Food activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates our resting and relaxing  responses as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates our fight or flight responses.
 For me, I remember sitting in a college class and having great difficulty staying awake after lunch, usually around one o’clock.   The subject matter of the class did not seem to matter as I had difficulty staying awake and taking notes.  Today, if I want to take a nap, after lunch, all I have to do is turn on the TV and off I go rather quickly I might add.
My 72nd birthday was Saturday.  That is a lot of birthdays.    On my birthday day, I ran with Randall and Diane and ran extremely well and fast. Randall had not seen me run that fast before, and commented about it at my party that evening.  It was a good way to show off on my birthday.  Sunday was Chris’s 54Th birthday, and we ran a nice easy 6 mile loop.
Today, I got serious and hit the trail with my dog Digger. We ran to the Quarry Trail at Highway 49 so I could refill my water bottle.  I saw couple people on horseback that I knew and then proceeded along the Western states trail towards Dead Truck.  That section of the trail is called dead truck, because there is a “dead truck” alongside the trail. Then we reached the Western states trail at about the 20 mile marker and headed in the direction toward third gate.  From there we ran up to 3rd gate and proceeded home.  Digger and I probably ran about 18 miles or so and I was happy to reach home.  I can only speak for myself.  I had some discomfort with my left Achilles that bothered me on and off.  It is time for Advil and ice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

LDL,Atherosclerosis,Triglycerides,and Exercise

What Happens to Your Body after a Big Meal is the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal dated November 22, 2011? Because everyone absorbs fats, sugars, and nutrients differently, the variations provide clues about heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Even “healthy” individuals or bodies function less efficiently (cells that line the blood vessels) after a high – fat meal.  Unfortunately, after, a high fat meal, LDL (bad cholesterol), gets into artery walls to form plaques. As you know, plaques block blood flow and can rupture, which leads to heart attack or stroke, which is called atherosclerosis.  The triglycerides (a type of fat) generally peak after a big meal and are also converted by the body from other nutrients like carbohydrates.  These triglycerides are particularly problematic because they are good at penetrating the arterial wall.

Recent medical studies found that testing for elevated triglycerides after eating is a good predictor of future heart attacks.  For example triglyceride counts after eating were an accurate predictor of stroke in women.  You probably will not be surprised to learn that high levels of triglycerides are probably early warning signs for diabetes. A professor in Japan suggests that reducing the amount of “fat meals “can minimize this negative impact on the blood-vessel cells.   Fish and nuts   are commonly considered healthier sources of nutrients, and do not appear to cause the same spike in triglycerides.  These foods may even bring down triglyceride levels.  Also, eating smaller amounts of food more frequently is better than eating large meals.

Other ways to deal with or reduce your triglycerides and LDL levels: 1.Take a 30 minute stroll or more vigorous physical activity the day before a high-fat meal. 2.   Eat a healthy breakfast to boost metabolism. 3.  Avoid snacks .4.  After the fat meal take a leisurely walk, skip the late-night leftovers and then get back to regular meal sizes and schedules.
 For the good news, exercise induces a number of cellular responses that can last as long as 48 hours.  If you have not started an exercise program, you might consider the “slog” the slow jog. Remember, we are only talking about 15 to 30 minutes a day before the big meal.  Surely you can fit that in your busy schedule. One way to simplify this process is to begin doing a 15 to 30 minute daily slog.  Begin this for a month to establish your base.    The holidays can be a good excuse for you to begin your change. Once you establish a base, and I bet you can, and then you will be in a good position to begin the New Year differently, so that you can better to yourself.
 I will be doing a book signing tomorrow at the Placer County Farm Supply, from 12 to 2, location 10120 Ophir Rd. in Newcastle, California.   E-mail placerfs @  I will look for you tomorrow.  Prior to the book signing, a group of us are going to do a trail run.  I like to get my run in early in the day, if I can. The following quote from Bertoit Brecht is right on and pertinent to this blog.    "None will improve your lot if you yourself do not."– Bertoit Brecht

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Psychology of Pain

"Ruin and recovering are both from within."– Epictetus
 The following information is taken from a class titled “Conquering Pain” From the Inst. For Natural Resources and is as follows: 1. The goal of medicine is to preserve or restore health and relieve suffering.  Pain is the most common symptom of disease and it is no wonder that the medical and pharmaceutical industries work hand-in-hand.2; Physiologic pain serves a purpose and is actually protective.  It warms the body of potentially damaging or destructive stimuli in the processes.3.  Pain is subjective and cannot be measured objectively.4.  Chronic pain may be associated with fatigue, loss of libido, loss of appetite, and depressed mood.5.  Men report less pain, but seem to cope more poorly than women.6.  Opium has been around for 4500 years.7.  Aspirin was developed in 1899 by the Bayer Company.
The Psychology of Pain.
1.       Multiple psychological variables influence the perception and experience of pain.  Pathways that modulate pain extend from the cortices to the hypothalamus, mid brain, medulla, and spinal cord.  These pain modulating circuits can be enhanced or suppressed by attention, expectation, anxiety, fear, and depression.
2.      Depressed individuals frequently feel more pain and experience multiple somatic discomforts.  Increased perception of pain is often an early sign of depression.
3.      Interpreting pain as unbearable typically intensifies the perception of pain.
4.      Positive expectations for healing from painful injuries can lead to faster recovery from those injuries.
5.      Long-standing pain has been shown to cause atrophy of the prefrontal cortex, comparable, in some cases to the equivalent of 10 to 20 years of aging.
6.      Failure to recognize the tremendous influence of negative emotions such as anger, fear, grief, resentment, depression, and pessimistic expectations on chronic pain conditions can even limit the effectiveness of pain meds.
7.      Self-defeating thoughts and behaviors can eventually dominate the patient’s awareness, pushing aside more constructive attitudes.
Helpful strategies.
1.       Cognitive behavioral therapy to change thinking.
2.      Exercise to boost endorphins and serotonin.
3.      Distraction with pleasant activities.
4.      Learning new skills or hobbies.
5.      Protecting a restoring deep sleep.
6.      Spending more time in natural surroundings.
7.      Interacting with pleasant, funny, uplifting people.
8.      Exploring a religious or spiritual approach to suffering.
9.      Volunteering to help others with similar challenges.
One thing that I do when dealing with an injury is not to use the word “pain.” I use words like discomfort, irritation when referring to injury or soreness.  I also incorporate many of the above strategies. Of course, I also use ice, heat, and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil when necessary. Good luck in dealing with your discomfort, as it happens to us all.
I learned a new term yesterday from my neighbor Liz.  I see her frequently with her dogs, during her morning exercise.  She told me she was doing the “slog.” That is exactly what I do, running up a hill, only I did not call it slog. A slog simply means a slow jog.  Thank you for the term dear neighbor.
Happy turkey day and I hope to see you Saturday the 26Th at my book signing from 12 to 2 PM at the Placer County Farm Supply, 10120 Ophir Road, New Castle, California.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Relief from Pain, Mind fullness Meditation ,Acupuncture, Without Drugs, andJoseph Campbell

"You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you."– Joseph Joubert
Additional information from last week’s blog follows about the brain and pain, per the Wall Street Journal article on November 15.  While teaching subjects mind fullness meditation, under a condition of being probed by painful stimuli, the subjects in this study reported feeling 40% less pain intensity and 57% less unpleasantness while meditating.  Brain scan data showed they had less activity in the primary Somatasensory Cortex, the part of the brain that registers where pain is coming from and greater activity in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, which plays a role in handling feelings of unpleasantness.  These subjects looked at pain differently and benefited without medication.  How about that?
Anticipating relief also seems to allow subjects to deal with pain differently, especially with the use of acupuncture.  In another study called” love,” the subjects either looked at photos of their beloved or of a dear friend, while receiving a hot probe.  On average, the subjects who were focusing on photos of their loved ones reported feeling 44% less pain, than those who focused on a photo of their friend.  Having a loved one and having a loved one’s picture might be helpful to you to.  Make sure to get a good photo.
These techniques are not going to be applied by your primary care physician.  Your primary care physician is going to give you a prescription and likely nothing more.  You may like him or her. So far, I do not know of any data that supports liking your primary care doctor and pain relief.  However, if that works for you, super deluxe.  I think the word “care” could be taken out of the description of primary care physician. I know a number of people that have been treated by drugs and surgery.  Before drugs or surgery, I would explore alternate therapies. How about you?
I took a seminar from the Center for Story and Symbol taught by Jonathan Young, PhD, and Anne Bach, MS. This class is based on the personality theory of Carl Jung. Some terms, from his theory include: the ego, the self, persona, shadow, anima/animus, conscious and unconscious, etc. However, you may be more familiar with Joseph Campbell’s teachings .Bill Moyers did a detailed TV program about Dr. Campbell a few years ago.
Dr. Campbell was probably the greatest expert on mythology in this century.  Dr. Young was his assistant and later, following Campbell’s death his Archivist.  Jonathan has spent years absorbing Campbell’s teachings and now seems to be living out Campbell’s legacy of following your bliss and living for the moment.
I would like to integrate some of the material learned in class and relate it to my book as well as another project titled, for the moment, mental toughness. Stay tuned.
A Reminder: Book signing this Saturday, the 26Th from 12:00 – 2:00 PM at Placer Farm Supply,Newcastle,Ca.-916-663-3741; See you there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fantasies,Mental Toughness,and Jim Steere,DVM

"There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do."– Freya Stark

Jim Steere, DVM: Renaissance man and Athlete Extraordinaire - Chapter 7 is a wonderful story about a remarkable man. Insight into his identity and resulting mental toughness is found as we take a look into his childhood fantasies and dream life. The following material, in part, is taken from “It Has Nothing TO Do With Age.”
Jim as a young boy moved to the desert to live with his bigger than life Calvary officer father. At, this point, unfortunately, Jim had already lost an older brother.  With this move, his losses mount further because he is now separated from his two older siblings (brother & sister), and mother.  He is a lost, lonesome boy out in the desert with his father.
Jim’s military father purchased 160 acres in the Southern California desert under Abraham Lincoln’s Homestead Act, and built with Jim’s help a small simple structure that they called home.   This rustic, primitive dwelling had no electricity, gas, or plumbing.  A fireplace provided warmth, as well as light to read by.   Lucky for Jim, there were no electronic toys or games for diversion.  Instead, to pass the time in those days, Jim’s father read to him stories about the old Wild West.  As Jim’s imagination was superb, he was able to fantasize and dream about being a prospector or some solitary cowboy figure out on a deserted trail, accompanied by his horse which for him was his friend.  The horse is a major part of the story as it was a gift, or some would say a bribe from his father, enticing him to move away from another part of his family, thus resulting in a splitting or separation within the family.
Jim would go on long rides, with his horse and as a result became an excellent horse person.  Okay one might ask, what does this have to do with his identity and his mental toughness?  Well, for one, what occupation did Jim choose?  What did he love to do?  What did he enjoy as a kid?  He chose to work with animals that did not talk back to him and became the expert.  Further, Jim as a young teen rode his horse from the desert to Los Angeles, a distance of more than 90 miles.  Remember, this is in the 1930s.   This was Jim’s first three day equestrian event in which he planned, gathered necessary equipment, and followed through in order to complete his adventure as a solo rider.  This wonderful trail ride experience speaks to his mental and physical grit.  It also allowed him, over the three uninterrupted days, for his mind to wander, to have wonderful fantasies, to have super dreams without distraction, rules, or expectations from others.  He was a kid on his own.
 If you do not think Jim was physically and mentally tough by now, you are totally wrong.  This 90 mile ride, illustrates his toughness.  Did this young boy lose those fantasies and dreams or kid like behavior as he aged?  Dreams, fantasies and being young in spirit can last a lifetime. This young man, at age 80, became the oldest to complete the historic 100 mile Tevis Cup ride and at 85 competed in the world ride and tie championship with his son Thom two months before he passed away. He continued being youthful and Peter Pan like as well as being a grown-up-veterinarian and hospice worker until the end of his very full life.
Read the 19 chapters in my book, and perhaps it will assist you and allow you receive clues into your identity as well as providing you with inspiration as you read the stories of others.  Believe me, one of the major strengths in this book are the wonderful stories of its characters.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Mind- Body Management of Pain

"What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers."– Matina Horner
This blog is a continuation from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article. Yesterday’s blog depicted various components of the brain as related to pain.  First, I want to add, there is no objective measure to evaluate pain.  As a consequence, we are left with the subjective component which means significant individual differences.  Unfortunately, the medical system is dominated by the managed care gatekeepers, which means having to see your primary care physician regardless of the efficiency.   In all probability, what this means is that getting pain relief is likely getting a prescription for some drug.  Of course, drugs for pain relief have been around for a long time.  And we know from experience, that a drug does not solve or fix the “illness” it simply blocks the neuro pathways going to the brain.
This Wall Street journal article gives some clues as to how to deal with pain other than with drugs and let me add without side effects. Statistically, one third of the American adult population struggles with pain.  The abuse of pain medication-annual deaths due to overdoses has quadrupled to 14,800 between the years 1998 and 2008.  Furthermore, the painkiller Vicodin is now the most prescribed drug in the United States. How about that!
First, the brain is a complex mechanism that perceives, evaluates, and deals with pain.  The following is a mind-body approach to help deal with this condition of pain.  At Stanford University’s Neuroscience and Pain Lab, subjects watched how their own brains reacted in real-time and learned to control their responses by focusing on something distracting instead of the pain.  In other words, you might say something like “yes my foot hurts, but I will not let that stop me.”  As a result, these subjects had more activity in the higher thinking parts of their brains.  And by doing so, they were able to ease their own pain significantly. So, you might consider the use of distraction.  I know I do on my runs.  Often, I am thinking about the subject matter of the blog.  And believe me, that  is quite a distraction especially when I am hurting.
Another way to distract oneself from pain is a technique used   in hypnosis referred to as guided imagery.  This means that when a person is put in a deep state of relaxation or hypnosis the guided imagery technique is used to deepen his relaxed state.  A hypnotherapist might have the individual begin to imagine a scene like being  in the mountains in winter.   Then, in a deepened state of hypnosis or deep relaxation, the individual can be taught to deaden the pain like in anesthesia.  When successful, the individual can learn to numb that painful area when the situation arises.
 Guided imagery has been used for many years, especially by the Russians.  To simplify, let us say you are, downhill skiing, and the hypnotherapist takes you, in your mind, on your competitive ski run putting you through all the paces as if you were   actually doing the event.  As a result, you are practicing your competition in a very relaxed emotional state   so that when you do actually ski you have practiced the ski run in a successful manner many times over and over.
My first encounter with hypnosis was when I was sitting in a study hall at Denby high school.  My buddy Dick Mounts, a cross country runner, first introduced me to hypnosis.  I was intrigued, and much later when in private practice, I took a class on hypnosis. After that class, I used this technique and taught it to numerous patients.  This is a powerful tool when used correctly. I wholeheartedly endorse it.
More about pain and pain management at a later date. I am in no way through with the subject.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Palm Desert Century Bike Ride

As a reminder I am Secretariat's (AKA Tony Brickel) older sister Penny the Personal Trainer and Nutritional Consultant.  I was asked to write about my most recent accomplishment. 
My personal goal since I got my new carbon road bike in May was to train and complete 6 Century (100M) bike rides prior to the end of 2011.  I just completed my 6th one in Palm Desert last Saturday in the pouring rain.  I have put a lot of time into studying sport specific training for long distance cycling and implementing into my training and nutrition all that I am learning. That being said I picked this particular event for 2 reasons, minimal elevation gain (2400ft), a15 mile time trail, and older riders to compete against.  As an extremely fit 62 year old, I want to be able to perform as well or better than a 40 year old.  In the last event I did which was timed I am happy to report that I came in 1st as the only one in my age category, and 10th overall against all women in all age categories.  You can imagine I am feeling pretty good about my training and results. I have my nutrition perfected and my body is strong.
Well the Palm Desert Century had many firsts for me.  First and foremost not only did it rain, but it poured the entire lasts 50 miles.  I felt very strong though and my body was happy to have a fairly flat ride as opposed to all my others which were moderately difficult rides with 5000 ft elevation gain.  I was hitting RPM of 100-110 something I have tried but not succeeded to accomplish until finally having a flat route, my time was going quite well so when I came to the 15mile time trial which was a 15 mile steady 3-4% hill, I was ready and excited to see my positive results.  I was very proud of my results in 2 areas.  Finding that with less elevation gain my body can go forever, feel good and strong, and capable of going yet further was great to see as my plan for Spring 2012 is a double (200M) Century.  Also learning to ride and break safely in the rain was an achievment in itself.  So upon finishing the Century I was feeling great and very proud of myself and couldn't wait to see the results of the time trial.
Well the final results are now posted and I was in for a very rude awakening.  I did come in 1st in my age group as the only competetor, but came in 126 out of 142 overall riders that completed the time trial amongst all competitors, men and women. Not such good results, certainly not what I wanted to see and was very dissapointed I must say.  I dont like seeing that, I want to see myself at the very least in the middle.  Granted there were 565 registered riders for the Century and only 280 finishers and only 142 that completed the time trial, but still this does not make me happy.  I have no excuses, I went as fast as I could and my pace was good for me.  So back to training for speed.  I seem to do great over long distances, which has always been my gift and over the shorter time trial I am not so good.  I would have loved to see the entire event timed and where I placed.  Yes I am very competitive with myself and like Tony want to be in the top half at the very least regardlus of my age.  I don't accept age as a factor!!
My training continues now focusing on what I continue to learn and is all based on getting my body ready to complete a double in the Spring.  I want to be one of the very few women in the country that has achieved this and I love being an example for my clients.  BTW one of my clients came with me and at 28 years young and a pervious couch potato growing up completed her first 50 mile ride in the rain, I was so very proud of her.

Your Brain and Easing the Pain

"I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing."– Rabbi Hillel

Rabbi Hillel has got a point.  One way to take a look at what he said is that he persists in what he is doing.  He is able to go on despite or instead of obstacles that he has confronted.  How is this possible?  Do some people have more ability than others when it comes to perseverance?  Are some more mentally tough than others?  Does the ability to with -stand pain come in to play?   It is my guess that individual psychological differences are important when dealing with pain. I will give examples.  There were a number of times when I was on an ultra run, anywhere from a 50 K. to 100 miles and I would see my friend Bill.  He was at an aid station and I would run up and tell him “I am tired.”  He would reply “you are supposed to be tired.”  His feedback was reality-based.  He was not lying, he was not distorting, he was not sugar coating, and he was telling me the truth.   And I found his words helpful.  On the other hand, Secretariat might say something to himself like “get your butt going” to motivate him.  Notice there is nothing negative, with his self talk. Let us take a look at brain neuroscience   in searching for the answers to the questions raised earlier.

The title “Rewiring the Brain to Ease Pain” by Melinda Beck was found in the November 15, 2011 edition of the Wall Street Journal. This is going to be a two-part blog.  Part one is a dissection of the brain and locations in the brain related to pain. 1.   Anterior cingulate cortex-registers unpleasant feelings when things go wrong, either physically or emotionally.  People who are highly sensitive to pain have greater activity in this area. 2.  Somatasensory cortex-registers, which body part is in pain and the intensity of that pain.  Less activity here when patients focus their attention away from their pain. 3.  Insular cortex-integrates sensory, emotional and cognitive states; feels empathy for others pain. 4. Thalamus-receives pain signals from spinal cord and relays them to higher brain regions. 5. Periaqueductal Gray-an area rich in opioid that act as a pain reliever. 6.  Amygdala-anticipates pain and reacts to perceived threats. 7.  Pre-frontal cortex processes pain signals rationally and plans action.  Active when trying to consciously reduce pain. 8.  Medial Prefrontal Gyrus-focuses on negative personal implications of pain.  Heightened activity seen in anxious people. 9.  Right Lateral Orbital Frontal Cortex-evaluates sensory stimuli and decides on response, particularly if fear is involved.  Mindfulness meditation calms down this response.10.Nucleus Accumbens-releases dopamine and serotonin during pleasure or pain.

What are the implications for the ultra runner, someone with chronic pain, or some other athlete or active sports participant?  Stay tuned for more information to follow.  I am taking a continuing education class tomorrow, called “Conquering Pain” sponsored by the Inst. For Natural Resources.  Additional information about your brain and pain is forthcoming.

 I want to remind you of my book signing at Placer County Farm Supply, 10120 0phir Road, and New Castle, California.  916-663-3741 on November 26, from 12:00 to 2 PM. Join us there

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Howie Long, and Men's Health

"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."– Carlos Castaneda
Yesterday, I mentioned my conversation with Ed Budde, the president of the Kansas City Chiefs alumni Association.  He referred to himself as an old chief and the feedback that I gave was for him to re frame that and call himself a Kansas City Chief Instead.  I wanted him to remove the word “old” so that he could challenge this depiction.  We want to think of ourselves and about ourselves positively and remove words that have a negative connotation.
 I am going to share with you one story about Ed.  Some years ago, on a Sunday, I was watching an NFL program, with past players talking about the current football games.  Howie Long, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, was telling a story about when the Raiders and the Chiefs were playing one Sunday.  Lined up across from Howie for the Kansas City Chiefs was none other than Brad Budde, the eighth overall pick in the draft.  During the game, Howie busted Brad’s nose.  Howie said he heard that Papa Budde was at the game, angry, and was looking to tear up Howie in the tunnel.  Hall of Famer Long said he did not want anything to do with Papa Ed. I am gowing to ask Ed about that story. Ed has a reputation.
A while ago I was writing about Men’s Health.  Ways to improve men’s life expectancy.  Presently, the average life expectancy for men is 77 years, compared to 82 for women.  Some recommendations to increase life expectancy are as follows: 1. Have an annual physical, preventive screening tests, and immunizations. 2.  Do not smoke-men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer death in men. 3.  Be physically active-a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. 4.  Eat a heart healthy diet-fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, and foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. 5.  Stay at a healthy weight-balance calories from food and beverages with calories you burn off my physical activities. 6.  Manage your stress-stress, particularly long-term stress can be a factor in the onset or worsening of ill health.  Managing stress is essential to health and well-being and should be practiced daily. 7.  Drink alcohol in moderation-that means no more than two drinks a day.  I.e. 12 ounce bottle of beer, 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits. 8. Know your family health history- learn about relatives that are deceased.
Website that might be helpful:’s health/.  Remember, these eight recommendations is good advice for everybody. I am doing my part: Digger and I ran an 8 to 9 mile loop incorporating Dead Truck in the process.  I add fruits and vegetables to my morning smoothie.  I also make more than enough and have a least one to two glasses for lunch as well. Be and stay healthy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kansas City Chiefs,Identity,Obesity,Cholesterol,and Aging

"To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything."– Joan Didion
Joan suggests that when you have intrinsic worth you have self-respect.  I would add that intrinsic worth leads to having a better sense of who you are, which means identity.  And one main and necessary component of identity is self-esteem.  Having a positive self-image facilitates the journey and developmental process in establishing one’s identity.  A necessary element in developing  a positive self concept is mastery or having ability and competency.
Simply put, having success experiences, trust, autonomy, and competency results in the development of a positive self-concept.  Having a positive self-concept allows the individual to have a sense of intrinsic worth and the self-respect that Joan suggests.  From this point, it is very likely that the individual will be successful in knowing who he is and a road map in developing one’s identity. Having a clear identity or knowing who you are is both important and healthy.
I just got off the phone with Ed Budde.  Ed is currently president of the Kansas City Chiefs alumni Association.  He Played for the Chiefs 13 years and continues to live in Kansas City.  Ed played in the first Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers.  Prior to that, he was a first-round draft choice of both the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.  Obviously, he chose the Kansas City team.  In college, he played for Michigan State and he attained many honors.  He was an All-American at Denby high school where we were teammates.
Today, he referred to himself as an “old Chief.” I told him that when he said that, I thought of Sitting Bull.  I suggested that he think of himself   as a” Chief.  “It is healthier for him to think of himself in a more positive light and not as an old Chief. Our inner thoughts and how we refer to ourselves tell an important story. So monitor what you say.  If you are using a word that connotes something that is not favorable change or re frame that with a positive. Thinking about yourself and employing positives is important for your well-being which is your mental health. It makes awareness or listening to yourself important and it is only then that you are able   to make the necessary change.
On another note, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Inst., said a child’s first cholesterol check, should occur between ages nine and 11 and the test should be repeated between the ages of 17 and 21.  The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the guidelines.  This was taken from the Wall Street Journal, November 12-13, 2011.
As we know, there are growing numbers of American children who are either overweight or obese and likely on the way to developing diabetes.  The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that obesity in American children has tripled within the last 30 years. That seems to be an alarming number.  It would be interesting to look at data as far as the increase in electronic game activity is concerned. I would guess there is a positive and high correlation with participation in games of this nature coupled with the increase of inactivity among children and teens.  Playing the game, sitting around, and being inactive are a disease.  I am sure the schools are doing less as far as physical activity is concerned. So as parents, it is your job and responsibility to deal with this disease even though you might make the pharmaceutical industry unhappy. They would prefer you just start taking the statins –the drugs.
The remedy in dealing with high cholesterol is related to improving diets and boosting exercise to at least or a minimum of one hour a day.  As far as exercise is concerned, one hour a day does not seem like much. However, if you are not doing any exercise then one hour would be significant.    There are plenty of examples that I know and realize how difficult it is to make those necessary changes.  There is no simple answer.  It takes hard work, discipline, and consistency.
Today after our run, Secretariat and I were talking about age and performance.  I told him that my next book can be titled”Age Has Something to Do with It”.  More about that subject matter later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dipsea Trail,The Depot, MillValley,and Placer Farm Supply

"There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do."– Freya Stark
Last Friday, Secretariat, and I headed for Carrie’s place in Tiburon. We had dinner in San Rafael, at an Italian restaurant.  Unfortunately, even though Secretariat’s mother and family is Italian, he can only gesture.  He is unable to speak a word of Italian.  As a result, we had to order, from the menu, in English.  After dinner, we arrived at her place before she returned from work in San Francisco.  She had her dinner and then we all had desert, which included peach pie and ice cream.
Early Saturday morning, after oatmeal, fruit, tea, and peanut butter, we headed for Stinson beach.  We arrived in plenty of time, and parked in the parking lot.  We noticed there was a large group of runners milling around.  We soon found out why.  There was a rumor going around that the race had been canceled?  Secretariat called home to find out if we had received an e-mail about the cancellation.  Sure enough, I did.  A little while later, the race director appeared and told the running group a sad story about the particulars of why the race was canceled.  Secretariat’s motivational drive dropped rapidly.
Race Day shirts were handed out along with goodies for the run.  Although there were no trail markings, we decided to start off with our own run, along with many others.  The first part of this trail run is on the Dipsea trail.  We navigated many steps going up the mountain and then took another trail that was ruddy, narrow, and rocky with very lush surroundings.  I have to chuckle because there is one part on the trail where we have to use a ladder to reach the adjoining part of the trail.  Secretariat got in front and then waited for me at the parking lot, which would have been an aid station.  We talked about which trail to take and because, in part because he was bummed out, we decided to take the 12 K. loop back.  Once on that trail, we passed many hikers and proceeded for a couple miles until the trail became unclear.  I took the lead and followed this one path and then proceeded to slip, slide and fall down frequently in the process.  My butt got dirty, my socks got dirty, my handheld water bottles got dirty, and my shirt got dirty as well.  After laughing and ducking underneath trees, we eventually reached the correct trail.  At that point, I decided to walk the rest of the way, since I was concerned that I might have pulled a muscle in the process.
Once back at the beach, we cleaned up and headed for The Depot in Mill Valley to have lunch and drop off two more books for distribution.  While there, talking to the store employees, who other than the Dipsea legend walks in, with his wife?  Russ Kiernan was there in downtown Mill Valley for a ribbon-cutting Dipsea ceremony.  Incidentally, Russ is Chapter 4 in “It Has Nothing To Do With Age.”
That was the first time that I had entered a running race that had been canceled.  Hopefully, it is the last.  All in all, I enjoyed, hanging out with Secretariat, staying with Carrie, meeting up with Russ, and running in beautiful Mill Valley at Stinson Beach. What a life!
Book signing November 26 from 12:00- 2:00 PM at Placer Farm Supply. Phone (916)663-3741

Friday, November 11, 2011

Joe Paterno,Penn State,Sex Scandal ,and Despair

"Since no one is perfect, it follows that all great deeds have been accomplished out of imperfection. Yet they were accomplished, somehow, all the same."– Lois McMaster Bujold

The sex scandal at Penn State certainly is a big news item.  I commented briefly about Joe Paterno in yesterday’s blog.  More thoughts about Joe and the developmental cycle of man.  One can hypothesize that man goes through a series of stages, i.e., Freud and Erikson.  We are not going to debate whether it is a psycho sexual or psychosocial model. 
In thinking about man’s aging process, I believe that psychologically man must deal with a series of crises at various points in his life cycle.  And more importantly, history plays an important part in his later years. As a result, it is imperative to resolve these previous crises so that one can continue and better be able to deal with those that follow.  All told, this means that in ones later years, he is either in a good position or not so good position to live out his remaining years in harmony.  It is obviously better to be psychologically healthy and content with one’s life, in later years, or we can expect to be bitter, discontented, or in despair.
Although, I have not studied Joe Paterno, it is likely safe to say that this man, 84 years of age, was not ready to retire from being head football coach at Penn State.  With that being said, it appears that he successfully dealt with and worked through his previous psychological stage of development referred to as Generativity.  Simply put, Generativity refers to giving and guiding others, helping the next generation, modeling and being a good role model in assisting the development and integrity of the young. Needless to say, Joe was successful up to that point. However, the last crisis to master psychologically is ego integrity or despair. Can Coach Joe master or resolve this developmental crisis?
Something happened or interfered with Coach Joe’s, judgment.  I do not know at this point, if he is going to be criminally charged because he did not report it to the police? Certainly the University stated that he should have done more with his lack of reporting.  This mistake in judgment resulted in   one quick stroke with his severance at Penn State.
His identity is simply Joe Paterno Penn State football coach. While, he is still known as coach, an added dimension of a sex scandal tarnishes this man.   This is a devastating scandal that might follow him to the grave.  In this culture of ours, I can think of others who have experienced a traumatic series of events at the end of their careers i.e. Gen. George Patton and Richard Nixon easily comes to mind.  Their wanting years was filled with unhappiness, despair, and turmoil.
 When it comes to the last phase of your life, hopefully you will have worked through the developmental issues and live the last cycle with feelings of integrity, well-being, and the knowledge that you have contributed to the younger generations.  20 years ago, I likely would not be thinking about Joe Paterno in these terms or about this phase in my life.  Well, I certainly am now.  Good luck Joe.  It will be interesting to see what you do with the rest of your life. Remember, no one is perfect.

Book signing for "It Has Nothing To Do With Age" - Auburn Journal

Book signing for "It Has Nothing To Do With Age" - Auburn Journal

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BOSU Ball,Proprioception,Joe Paterno and Pacific Coast Trail Runs

"I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is, why did other people stop?"– William Stafford
Part of yesterday’s blog had to do with putting on a new event, which would be a trail run accompanied with obstacles. One of the obstacles that I mentioned had to do with balancing or stability.  Well, an Article in Trail Runner, December, 2011 titled “Balancing Act-prevent common injuries with a BOSU Ball.”A  BOSU (both sides up) ball has a solid platform on one side and half of a stability ball on the other.  This equipment forces the individual to balance on one of two unstable surfaces, challenging the strength and reaction time of your ankle, and core. I first saw this “ball”   when I was in physical therapy and then again when I traveled to Malibu for a recent 50 K.  I stayed with Penny, Secretariat’s sister in Malibu.  She is a personal trainer and had us perform balancing with that tool. I remember that it was difficult to get the hang of it and I did not want to do too much of some of these exercises out of fear of injury before my race.
According to the article, the transition from running pavement to trails can cause unwanted injuries-like a sprained ankle, patellofemoral or plantar fasciitis.  This can happen, because the foot is the first thing to hit the trail and must respond to the constantly changing trail conditions such as rock’s roots, etc. in microseconds. In other words, ankle stability is essential.  One of the best pieces of equipment for helping with ankle stabilization or proprioception is this particular ball. Okay my friend’s, the following five exercises could be an obstacle as well as something very helpful to runners (stability and balance).   The goal for these exercises is to stay steady, balanced and relaxed.   When performing, attempt to maintain a fixed gaze, for better balance.
 The Exercises are: 1. Begin balancing on one leg on the floor.  Your hip should be level, torso upright and arms hanging naturally by your sides.  Try to hold for 30 to 60 seconds.  Switch sides. 2.  With the flat side down, start by standing with both feet on the BOSU.  Once you feel balanced, stand on one leg.  Keep your standing leg locked, with your quad engaged and raised leg bent 90°. 3.  Start with both feet on the ball side of the BOSU, flat side down.  Shift your weight forward until your toes, and then back toward your heels, increasing your forward and backward motion. 4.  Start by standing on one leg on the ball side of the BOSU, with standing leg quite engaged and raised leg extended 90°.  Bend your standing knee 30 to 45°, and then return to standing.  As you squat, sit back slightly, like sitting in a chair, to engage your glutes.  Perform 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps on each side. 5.  Start by standing on one leg on either side of the BOSU.  With a partner, throw a ball back and forth for 60 seconds while standing on each leg.
Too bad I cannot draw picture of the stability exercises.  I know that would be helpful. If you do not have this piece of equipment, do it without. And as I say, perseverance, discipline, stick to it ness, following through, and mental toughness are components of being successful like William Stafford.

What a way to end a career .  How  can Joe Paterno, football coach, now complete his career?   Unfortunately, for him it is now impossible .  This man, psychologically, is likely to be troubled for the rest of his life.  Regardless of his career and being the winningest coach in Division I, being fired in this recent  turmoil is likely  to leave him in a state of despair.  This means that for him ,life is now possibly too short to start another life and to  then proceed down an alternate road  in  regaining  his  integrity.  Hopefully, Joe  can  find  something both passionate and significant  in which  he can immerse himself in  and be able  to give back to society in the process .    Unless that happens, this man is in for a very unhappy "the rest of his life."  
I am in no way condoning his behavior.  I am pointing out psychologically, the consequences of his "in action"  and being immediately fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees.
Secretariat and I did our final tapering run today.  The plan is for us to leave tomorrow and stay with Carrie, the Cool Ride and Tie winner, in Tiburon. Thank you Carrie dear.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cowboy Poetry Reading,Getting Better Grades, and Men's Health Issues

"It is necessary to try to surpass oneself always; this occupation ought to last as long as life."– Queen Christina

On Saturday, November 26, 2011, I plan to do a book signing at the Placer County Farm Supply located  at 10120 Ophir  Rd. , Newcastle, California  95658  from 12:00 – 2:00 PM.   Hopefully you can arrange your schedule and be there as well.  Early morning, on that date, our running group is planning to do a run also. This Saturday the 12Th, Pam will be taking copies of “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” to the annual cowboy poetry reading in Nevada.  Placer County Farm Supply has a booth and will be selling my book there too.  Unfortunately, Secretariat and I will be running the hills at Stinson Beach in Marin County.  And as the Queen says “Do your best, as long as you can.” I am looking forward to the run  on the 26 as well as the book signing,  since both fall on my birthday . I am pleased that I have the will, strength, and health to continue  what I do at a high level.

For those of you that still take exams or know someone who does, take the following test as to the best way to study.  This article was found in the October 26, 2011 Wall Street Journal.  How To Ace the Test: 1. Review the hardest material, right before bedtime. 2.  Turn off music, text messages, TV and e-mail .3.  Test yourself repeatedly. 4.  Eat oatmeal for breakfast.  The correct answer s is?  Test yourself repeatedly before an exam, because it teaches your brain to retrieve and apply knowledge from memory.  This method is more effective than re-reading a textbook. Sleep also plays a role in test performance.  Review the toughest material right before going to bed the night before the test.  And, do not wake up earlier than usual to study because that could interfere with rapid eye movement sleep that aids memory.  A common study habit like pulling an all nighters’ is a bad idea. A high carbs, high fiber, slow digesting food like oatmeal is best to eat before a big exam.  Further, one study had 16 college students tested on attention and thinking speed.  The students were fed a five day high-fat, low-carbs diet heavy on meat, eggs, cheese and cream. The researchers found these students had poor test performance.  How could that diet be good for anybody?  Researchers also found that distractions make you less likely to remember material you were studying at that time.  Turn off the electronics.  Study, learn, and enhance your life.

Back to the previous discussion about men’s health.  Some the reasons for the poor state of men’s health in the US and around the world are numerous and complex.  And this is primarily due to lack of awareness of the health issues men face.  This can largely be attributed to the reluctance of men openly discussing the subject due to long-standing traditions, coupled with an “I’ll be alright attitude.” Men are less likely to schedule doctor’s appointments when they feel ill, or for an annual physical, thereby denying them the chance of early detection and effective treatment of common diseases.

Many men do not get regular health checks because: 1. Fear it will lead to a hospital visit.2.  Embarrassed to discuss their health issues.3.  Find it too hard to see a doctor because they just cannot fit into their schedule. 4.  Just cannot be bothered making an appointment.

Who says that men are foolish and employ such defense mechanisms as denial, rationalization, projection, and conversion?  I do!  For me, I do not want a health issue to get in the way of my life and as the Queen says”I want to be able to continue and surpass what I do.” Guess what, I just had blood work, taken for my annual physical checkup.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Geoffrey Mutai, Trail Race Challenge, and Men's Health

"Every time I go out there, I win. Every time I finish the task that I've set before myself, I win again."David James Elliott
Can you believe that Geoffrey Mutai ran mile 22 and mile 23 in 9:04 in last Sunday’s New York City Marathon?  Wow!  If you have run against the clock, either on the track, trail, or street for 2 miles, you can appreciate how fast Geoffrey ran. If you have ever run a marathon, remember how you felt after 21 miles?  So for that man, to run at that pace, seems remarkable to me.  By the way he set a new course record with a finishing time of two hours, 5 minutes and 6 seconds without having a rabbit or pacer.  Hats off to you Geoffrey on your accomplishment for a job well done.  This source is taken from the Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2011.
 For another extreme, I just read about a relatively new ultra in Louisiana.  This 126.2 mile race goes along the Mississippi River levee and is called the Rouge-Orleans.  The inaugural race was held last March.  Two men put together a point-to-point course that hugs the Mississippi River, the longest river in the nation.   If you do not want to run a solo you can put together a team consisting of 2-6 people.   Some of the difficulties in this run include the following: aid stations are located at miles 5, 25, 50, 75, and 105; there is not much shade; and you are going to be running on a flat and gravel surface.     For humor on their website, they warn the runners “If you are unable to finish the race you will be fed to the alligators.”  .  In 2011, there was a solo finisher.  If interested go to  This source was taken from Trail Runner, December, 2011.
How many of you would be interested in competing in a trail run of 5 to 10 miles with obstacles or challenges along the way.  A challenge could be some variation of the following: 1. Push-ups. 2.   Chins. 3.  Running in water. 4.  Lifting a tree. 5.  Carrying water buckets uphill.6.  Running backwards. 7.  Jump roping. 8.  Swimming. 9. Climbing a tree 10. Jumping jacks. 11.  Sit-ups. 12. Balancing on a cylinder.  13.  Plyometrics exercises.
It  seems  that this trail run would be a test of speed, endurance, upper body strength, fast twitch muscles, and coordination- balance.  Of course the challenges would require more refining.  Input from a personal trainer, physical therapist, and fitness operator would be welcomed, necessary and pertinent.
On our tapering run today, I talked about this idea with Secretariat.  He said it reminded him somewhat of his days in the military.  In fact he did well, with his obstacle training while in the Air Force.   The trails in and around Cool would be perfect for this type of event. .  I would appreciate input regarding putting on a race like this.  Would you come and do it?
Now for a few statistics: 1. An estimated 13 million adult men over the age of 20 in the US have diabetes-and 1/3 do not know it.2.  Approximately 50,000,000 men and women in the US have high blood pressure-almost 30% of them do not know it.3.  About one in three adults has high blood pressure, and blood pressure tends to rise with age. 4.  One in eight men who suffer from mental illness actually seeks help. 5.  Four times as many men commit suicide compared with women.6.  24% of men are less likely to go to the doctor compared to women.
 It is no wonder women live longer than men.  Men we must do a better job of taking care of ourselves.  More about this health topic tomorrow.