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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

High intensity interval training and male and female brain differences

– Beverly Sills
Today, Tony and I ran about 14 miles on the trail. He said something to the effect that “this is hard”. I agree. Although we started early, it seemed warm when we got to that last hill going towards third gate. I realize that it is supposed to be difficult and I agree with Beverly Sills that there are no shortcuts. All it takes is hard work, sweat, determination, and perseverance. Another training run completed and that feels good because it is good.
Cardiologists are finally getting it right. The June 28, 2011 Wall Street Journal had an article about high intensity interval training for heart patients (heart failure, coronary artery disease, and those recovering from bypass surgery and heart attacks). High intensity interval training is defined as short spurts of intense exercise at 85% to 95% of maximum heart rate alternating with periods of moderate exercise. To determine your maximum heart rate use the formula 220 – age= maximum heart rate. Treadmills have built-in heart monitors. . Or, you can buy a heart monitor and use it on the trail or on the track. Further, research suggests that intense interval training might benefit people at risk for diabetes. People with insulin resistance essentially need to dispose of the glucose that reaches too high levels in their blood .In other words the action of the muscle fibers that fire quickly to generate power needed in intense exercise is called fast twitch muscles and they may increase the capacity of the muscles to take up additional glucose .it seems to me, one might consider exercise and possibly high intensity interval training before you develop a cardiac problem. It’s only a suggestion to consider.
Yesterday, I pointed out that the female brain evolved faster in language and motor skills compared to boys. Yet, in elementary school, boys and girls are given the same assignments and evaluated on same. Perhaps, it would make more sense for the boys and girls to be separated in their school tasks. Simply put the boys could be taught reading and writing at a later age than the girls. It’s not surprising that the boys in elementary school are considered “hyper” because they are likely having difficulty sitting still and performing these most difficult school tasks. Their brains are not as well developed in language and fine motor and they are emotionally unable to cope with school assignment failure. The task of the individual ,during school years, is to develop mastery or what Erik Erickson would say is to develop a sense of industry.  A child can only develop a sense of industry with success. If the child has failure in school he develops a sense of inferiority. Give the boys a better chance to succeed. It shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that the US is lagging educationally and that we have such a high dropout rate in the inner-city schools. There are other factors that contribute to these statistics as well.  Brain difference   is one of many issues that confront our society. However we don’t hear about this contributing to the problem.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Nietzsche,Diet, Exercise, and Male- Female Brain

"He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying."– Friedrich Nietzsche
I read two disturbing bits of information recently. Now for the good news, all is not lost because there is something that we can do about it. The first article appeared in the Wall Street Journal dated June 23, 2011. According to the 2010 American Time Use Survey, released by the Labor Department, they found that as Americans are gain more free time their leisure time is increasing. However, the survey found that time spent for learning new skills or working out has dropped. We’re talking about Americans aged 15 years and older on average. Leisure time can be considered a good thing. What is important is what we do with that leisure time.  Learning a new skill or spending more time with exercise can be beneficial.  Since 2007, we are spending on average less time with learning a new skill and exercise.  This information does not speak well of the population at large.  So guess what we are doing more of? The survey reported that more time is spent watching TV and sleeping.
The other article was found in the Wall Street Journal dated June 27, 2011. This article reported that the US had 24.7 million diabetics in 2008 which is nearly triple the level found in 1980. The study included type-1. Diabetes (a disorder of the body’s immune system) and type 2. Diabetes (a chronic disorder marked by high levels of sugar in the blood). The study went on to suggest that about 70% of the increase was attributed to population growth and aging. The balance however was linked to changing diets, rising obesity and growing rates of physical inactivity. Okay, what do we need to do? As the philosopher Nietzsche said, we have to simplify and start from ground zero. In order to get healthy, we have to eat differently and begin exercise.
There is nothing wrong if we pay attention to our plate portions, reduce sugar, and salt in our diets. Don’t wait till tomorrow start today. If you need additional assistance, consider professional help or follow one of the many diet programs.  As far as exercise goes, begin today. Think of a time to walk let’s say for 15 minutes. It could be early in the morning; it could be around lunchtime, or in the evening. Put 1 foot in front of the other and continue that for about 15 minutes. Do it every day. Find the time; make it a priority in your life. We have to start somewhere and why not by walking?
The following information is continuing from yesterday’s comments about the male and female brain. A study of 500 children showed areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills matured about six years earlier in girls compared to boys. Girls learn to read earlier than boys and women continued to be better than men at most speech and language abilities throughout life. Is there anything the school system can do differently to take advantage of this data? Should boys and girls be expected to learn at the same rate in language and fine motor skills such as reading and printing? Should they be given the same assignments in these areas? Should they be graded equally or should the teachers take into account sex and brain differences? We know that in preschool and elementary school that girls do better in these areas. So, how should the schools deal with these differences? Think about it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lary Hudas,Support Systems ,and Male-Female Brains

We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other."– Luciano Decrescenzo
Just yesterday, I was talking to Larry Hudas. Who is this person? How do I know him? Well, I met Larry a long time ago at Denby high school in Detroit. Larry was a teammate and one of the star players on the 1957 football team who went on to play for the Spartans of Michigan State University. In fact, a number of players from the 57 team went to Michigan State. Ed Budde, Mitch Newman, Jim Haslip along with Coach Rutherford joined Larry.
Larry told me that he had a gathering of the 1961 champion Michigan State team players at his home recently. He also mentioned that he hosted about 50 classmates and teammates from Denby high school as well. It is clear that Larry is well connected and has a good support system. The above quote and Larry illustrate prescription 3. “Enrich your life by making friends, sharing interests, learning about others by becoming part of the new group” found in my book.
Last week I presented some information about being right brained or left brained. Some of you may wonder about male and female brains and ask are there any dominance differences? The left hemisphere of the brain is more language oriented than the right hemisphere which is more visual-spatial oriented. In general, women have better language skills and men better visual and spatial skills. Women seem to have better developed left hemisphere the “social” brain with better language and “personal perception” of social behavior. An example of that would be better recognition of facial emotional expression. Men on the other hand, have a better developed right hemisphere coupled with greater relative mechanical and spatial abilities. This is translated as follows.
There are some differences in cerebral dominance between men and women: boys and men have slight overall advantages in the following: 1. Target-directed gross motor skills like throwing a ball 2. Visual-spatial skills 3. Navigating through a route 4. Complex University-level mathematics. Girls and women have slight overall advantages in: 1.Most types of language skills 2. Fine motor tasks 3. Empathy for others 4. Social interactions.
To oversimplify, it is pretty difficult, at times, for a man to win an argument with a woman. How often has a man been told that he lacks empathy? And, you have to admit that women are pretty slick when it comes to human interaction. As for the men, we do throw a ball pretty well; we are pretty good at finding our way around the world; and we are pretty good at mathematics. I may talk more about these differences tomorrow.
I want to go back to Sunday when Tony told me he was going to run up” Training Hill”. For those of you that do not know about Training Hill, it is steep and long. If that’s not brutal enough, just do it on a real hot day like Monday. This is what Tony told me “I was tired and really did not want to run up this monster Hill but I have to do it because I told you that I would”. So in other words, he did it because he didn’t want to deal with hearing me call him a wimp. Do you think a female would have handled Tony’s problem differently?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tough Mudder, Ivan Abadjief and Heat Training

Today is hot. The only way to train in this weather is to get acclimated to the heat. It generally takes a few weeks in order to accomplish that. One of the problems in Tuesday’s workout was the heat. Tony and I were both tired and that’s easily related to the heat. Hopefully, the heat won’t be a problem in another week or so. Buck Shaw told me about an event called “Tough Mudder”. This activity is scheduled to come to Northern California in September of this year. Squaw Valley is the race site. This athletic endeavor is supposed to be really difficult because the British Special Forces set up the obstacles for this 10 mile run. Take a look at the website to get an overview and specifics about obstacles and training. Running and weight lifting is just part of it. Let me know what you think about the sport? They’re already 7500 people registered. I believe they’re opening up another slot once they get permission from the Park service. This is new and exciting.
In Tuesday’s, June 21, 2011 Wall Street Journal there was an article about weightlifting and the Bulgarian method. You might not remember but, in 1972, the Bulgarian team beat the Soviet Union’s weightlifting team in the Olympic Games. The man given credit for this was Ivan Abadjief the weightlifting coach. He has also produced champions in Turkey and Qatar. Currently, he is in Danville, California training students at a new Academy for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Ivan is currently 79 years of age and has his own method of training. His method, to oversimplify, is that his weightlifters train with no days off. They also push their bodies gradually and consistently with great amounts of weights during training. He believes that our bodies will adapt to any level of stress regardless of the demands placed upon it. His idea is that injury and fatigue are less likely while adrenaline is running through the body, stimulating protein synthesis. Also, his students eat anything they want including junk food.
I remember working out with weights in preparation for college football at the University of Detroit in 1958. I visited nearby friends who incorporated what could be called the Bulgarian method. We would put huge amounts of weight on the bar and do partial squats and other lifts. I know that using these tremendous amounts of weight were good psychologically as well. These weights became just numbers. I certainly developed more strength and power from those workouts. Maybe that training should be called the Barr method. Thank you Bob for introducing me to that technique.
In contrast, many American fitness trainers plot the combination of exercises to build things like endurance, core strength, and cardiovascular health while including periods of stretching and rest. They believe a healthy balanced diet is essential. Ivan gets many testimonials from the students who now follow his regime because of the results. It is likely that many American coaches tend to error on the side of under training to account for things like class work, relationships, etc. It must be pointed out that the American men haven’t won a gold medal in weightlifting in the last 40 years. To see photos and a video about the Bulgarian method visit Get back to me on this one also. Eating anything you want can be tempting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dipsea Demon ,Right Brained, and Left Brained

"If you run every day until you're 90 years old, I guarantee that you'll live a long life." Thank you, Bill Rodgers for that wonderful advice. Wouldn’t it be great, to be able to run until you’re at least 90? I think so. That would be a wonderful accomplishment in addition to living a healthy life. Or, you could be like the Dipsea Demon, Jack Kirk, who ran his last Dipsea at age 97. Jack was quite the character and there are many good stories about his life. Russ Kiernan, as a matter of fact, was his protégé. Jack ran with Russ, and learned about training, about winning, and about life from his mentor. Jack had a wonderful philosophy of life. He believed the 672nd stair was heaven.  There are 671 stairs in the Dipsea run. I have included Jack in my chapter about Russ who is known as Mr. Dipsea.
Tony commented today that he’s not quite as fast as he was when he was 40 and in his prime. I believe that’s true. However, he still runs well.  We talked about longevity and both agreed to take Bill Rodgers advice. Today, we started earlier because of the heat and had about a 10 mile training run. Good decision.

Now for a little fun: are you right brained or left brained?

  “New Age” Right Brained                  “New Age” Left Brained
  Identifies patterns                                  Identifies words
 Assigns value                                          Assigns meaning (reference)
 Follows day dreams and impulses          Follows rules and schedules
 Imagines visually and conceptually        Interprets
 Emotionally negative                              Emotionally positive
 Synthesizes                                             Analyzes
 Values sensation for itself                     Uses ideas for sensations
 Spontaneous                                           Orderly and methodical
 Suspicious                                               Critical and anxious
 Parallel processing                                 Sequentially and serially processing
 Animates                                                 Objectifies

Chances are you may see yourself as being stronger incorporating both sides of your brain. Research suggests that when both hemispheres are intact, no one is either right brained or left brained as the dominant manner of mental functioning.  Per Institute of Natural Resources.Think about it and I will add more information about this subject during the week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

KFOK,Optimism,Neuroscience, and Defense Mechanisms

Today, I was interviewed by Marian Smith of KFOK , a community radio station, in Georgetown. I spent a delightful hour with her. One of the questions she asked me “explain how we are hardwired to be more optimistic than realistic”? I wanted to say more about that subject on the air. She read one of my blogs and was interested in the subject matter. The basis for the blog came from an article I read in Time magazine dated June 6, 2011. In that article, Tali Sharot reported  on a couple studies conducted by Sara Bengtsson and him. Different areas of the brain were studied that included the prefrontal cortex, hippo campus, the amygdala, the caudate, and the RACC. Their research supported the idea that individuals are more optimistic than realistic. So ,neuroscience is supporting a psychological theory illuminated brilliantly by Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s daughter in her book” The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense “originally published in German in 1936.
Simply put, a defense mechanism” is an unconscious adaptive measure that protects the individual against a painful affect i.e. anxiety that is associated with some highly disagreeable situation” .A few of the defense mechanisms include: compensation, denial, idealization, identification, and rationalization. In other words, a defense mechanism distorts reality and can explain why our thoughts and/or behavior gets us into trouble. We might say we are optimistic when optimism may just be simply a rationalization.
A recent example of defense mechanisms at work occurred a few weeks ago on a Memorial Day Western states training run. This particular run went from Forest Hill to White Oak Flat a distance of about 19 miles. On this training day, I was not able to run effectively. I was slow; I was tired, and disliked the experience. I had no energy. During the run, I was searching for the reason and came up with the number of “rationalizations” for my poor performance. Even though this was a training run, I was not happy about my inability to run well. The reality was “this was not my day”. If I was smart, I would have stopped immediately and discontinued running. I would have been better off walking. However, because of the remoteness of the trail and time constraints, I didn’t. I continued to plow ahead and struggle. I even thought ,at one point ,that I might begin to feel better later and everything would be okay. That was called denial.
I did finish the run. I did not listen to my body and my mind or I should say my ego or prefrontal cortex allowed me to continue which was not in my best interests. Fortunately, I didn’t injure myself physically and only my pride was damaged. The moral of the story is to listen to your body and to deal with your defense mechanisms. Do as I say, not what I did that day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fear,Anxiety,and Stress Reducing Techniques

 “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear-not absence of fear” per Samuel Clemens otherwise known as Mark Twain. Well said, and I agree with him fully. We all are fearful at some time or another as it helps Man to survive. The key is to understand our fear in order to move ahead and master what needs to be. I read some discouraging news that the life expectancy is decreasing in number of counties in the South. This is not good.

Chances are part of the reason the life expectancy is decreasing is a result of stress or stressors in our life. When stressed, cortisol is released into the blood and helps the individual respond to the stressor by mobilizing the body’s energy reserves. This is chemical that helps us deal with the flight or fight response. However, when the individual is repeatedly stressed, the immune system is unable to recover from the repeated decreasing anti-bodies and such that makes it weakened  and ineffectual. Not only that but cortisol has been shown to damage and kill cells in the hippo campus (the brain area responsible for episodic memory) and likely the cause for premature brain aging. Now for the good news.
The following examples can be helpful in cultivating a stress resistant attitude without medication:
1.     Saying no to the important
2.     Avoiding crowds and congestion
3.     Stop being a perfectionist
4.     Focus the energy you do have on whatever is essential
5.     Learn your own energy cycle and do your most vital tasks when your energy level peaks
6.     Schedule complete down days at strategic intervals
7.     Avoid negative, irritating people whenever possible as they deplete energy
8.     Divide projects into small components and a little each day
9.     Exercise such as walking, biking, swimming, dancing, yoga, tai chi, Pilate's, and weight training
10.  Spend more time in natural settings
11.  Manipulate your mood with happy uplifting music
12.  Experiment with aromatherapy
13.  Relax with a massage
14.  Create a peaceful sanctuary for yourself
15.  Ignore society’s expectations
16.  Become independent of the good opinion of other people
17.  Stop comparing yourself to others
18.  Set aside regular time for meditation, prayer, or spiritual reading
19.  Get rid of anger, resentment, and grudges
20.  Forgive yourself and everyone else
21.  Be grateful, on a daily basis, for all your blessings
And finally, focus on the three components of happiness:
1.     Pleasure-a certain level of safety, security, food, shelter, and comfort seem necessary for the experience of happiness
2.     Engagement-personal involvement with other people, work, or causes
3.     Meaning-being aware of having a purpose in life
Hopefully, some of these examples can be useful to you and help you reduce the anxiety in your life. This material is based on a continuing education class. Use it to your advantage .Notice engagement, meaning, and exercise are some of the components that assist in reducing stress in your life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New York Yankees,Western States 100, Ride and Tie Championship

Today’s blog is about the many people who are helpful in putting my project together. The statement” the sum of its parts is greater than the whole” fits here. I want to start with Peter Golenbock the award-winning writer who has written many books about the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, Mickey Mantle etc., and movie actor Tony Curtis. Visit his website to learn more about him. Peter agreed to write a book review for the back cover. His first was “This is a book about senior citizens who run in insanely difficult, challenging races. Are they crazy? Dr. Lieberman urges you to try it and decide for yourself.” I like it and that is only the beginning. You will have to read the back cover to see his final quote. Thank you Peter for your counsel.
The second person I want to acknowledge is Susan Cohn Rockefeller the award-winning author and producer of numerous documentaries. Go to her website or to “Running Madness” the documentary on the 2002 Western States 100 to know her better. Susan has been a real support and has written the forward for my project. She also has given permission to use the documentary in my book trailer. Thank you Susan dear for your assistance and the things you said about me in the writing of the forward.
I also want to thank Tim Twietmeyer for his summary of the 1995 Western states run. Tim described the conditions and the challenges of his winning run. That victory was memorable to him and you will enjoy reading about it too. Tim is also going to write a book review.
Special thanks goes to Mark Richtman a world-class runner, excellent equestrian, and ride and tie champion. Mark described the 1995 World Ride and Tie Championship held in Idaho. The thrilling part of that race was the competition. Mark and three-time winner of the Western states Tom Johnson beat the Wadsworth brothers in their mountainous backyard. Read about that race to get a better understanding of the mind of a world-class athlete.
Others that have agreed to write a book review include Brad Budde, an All-American football player at the University of Southern California, first round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, occupational therapist,and motivational speaker. Read his web page to find out more about him. Dr. Jeff Herten, dermatologist, Western States finisher, Tevis Board member and finisher, and author also has agreed to write a review for my book.
I am blessed to know these people and consider my life more for fulfilled because of it. I didn’t forget Tony. Watch the blog and see his comments. That’s only part of the story. Thank you Tony.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Henry Miller,Tevis Cup, and Western States 100

" In this age, which believes that there is a shortcut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest" stated Henry Miller, the rebel, who wrote the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. You will be able to read his sexually explicit autobiographical novels today which are a good thing. Miller was born in 1891 in New York, and died in 1980 in California. He lived a long life.
If you disagree with this quote let me know. I think that he is right on and that this quote applies to all of us today.  In my experience, with endurance riding, running, and ride and tie, I have not discovered an easy way or shortcut in terms of training or conditioning. If you have, share your shortcuts with us. The real key is knowing about self-assessment addressing whether or not you’ve under trained or over trained.
For me, over training generally results from being nervous about an event. When I am nervous or worried about the activity, myself talk often has to do with “I haven’t done enough”. The self talk message is filtered by the worry and distorts the reality. So you have to know and be able to determine what the worry is about and analyzing your training method. Knowing oneself is paramount. I know since I have over trained and not analyzed myself correctly nor the activity.
Just think of the Western states runners this year. The snow conditions are extreme and likely the heat conditions will be also. How do you properly train for running in the snow? And at this late date, how does one train for the extreme heat during that one day event? The temperature is heating up and is likely to be extreme within the next two weeks.
As many of you know by now, the Tevis has been rescheduled to October 8 of this year. It is clear that with the extra time between July and October that it is important not to over train or lame your horse. Everybody wants to get to the start.  So ,for those of you that are going to do that ride be careful and protect your horse. Another problem for you riders is going to be the limited daylight conditions. Night riding is going to be another key this year .Good Luck. Pay attention to “how the thinking process affects achievement and performance” which is a learning from “It Has Nothing to Do with Age”.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baskin Robbins, San Lorenzo RiverTrail Run, and Ride and Tie Family

Well, Tony and I ran the  1/2 marathon in the Santa Cruz, California this past Sunday. The race was appropriately titled the” San Lorenzo River “trail run. This run crosses that River twice during the run. The water was waist to chest high and wide across. Luckily, there was a loosely tied narrow rope going across the river. This allowed for a path to take and helped with the rocky, slippery footing. The water was cold and the current slow. With this low current it was much easier to cross than the American River crossing at Rucky Chucky during the Western states run. As Tony was ahead of me, I didn’t see him take a dip while crossing. He claimed he wasn’t feeling great but he was still ahead of me.
Part of this trail was familiar since the Champagne and Fireworks endurance and ride and tie events took place in this area. My ride and tie career began in the late 90s and I remember thinking that running these trails, along with the River crossing, was not easy. I now understood because although the redwood canopy is magnificent the trails go up and down and up and down. This was a tough ½ marathon. Tony was heading back as I was approaching the aid station turnaround and he was whining. The thought occurred to me that I might be able to catch him. That thought stayed with me until after the second water and Highway 9 crossing. May be a mile and a half to 2 miles from the finish, a head of me on the trail was a red shirt. I immediately perked up and quickened my pace. I was zeroing in on that red shirt. I knew I was in a good position to catch that red shirt. Well, I did catch that person with the red shirt. To my dismay, it was not Tony. Shucks! I wanted to catch him.
From Tony: He wasn't even close!! Frank told me at the beginning of the year to beat him I had to be at least our age difference in time in front of him. Lets just say it was that and a little more!!
Tony and I arrived in Santa Cruz Saturday around dinnertime. Our host was Steve Shaw from the running, ride and tie, and endurance world. Being a good host, he made us dinner. George Hall came over and greeted us. The four of us went down to the beach which is minutes from Steve’s house.  Then we returned to Steve’s for more stories.
Steve is now into hunting with his birds. He did have time to tell us about his second-place finish on Tevis and the circumstances around losing the lead just a few miles from the finish. You will have to read my book to find out the rest. He also told us about the De Angelo and the double De Angelo story from ride and tie.
In ride and tie there is a rider and a runner along with the horse. So the team consists of three athletes two male and one equine. In the sport, the rider goes a certain distance, dismounts, and ties the horse’s lead rope to a sturdy shrub or tree and then continues running. The runner, who is a distance behind the horse, reaches the animal unties the lead rope, mounts and rides until he catches up with the lead runner. So this is the overview that you have to picture in your mind. Imagine the lead person dismounting, tying, and running ahead. Now, the second team member reaches the horse, unties, and mounts the animal. Then, this second person all of a sudden dismounts, ties, and starts running toward the lead person. The only thing that’s wrong with this picture is that now the horse is tied to a tree while its human team members is off running   away from the horse.  The entire team has to cross the finish line. You can’t leave your horse behind. This mistake is called the De Angelo. The double De Angelo is when that same person makes this mistake twice in the same race. I will not mention the names of those people in order to protect the innocent.
After saying goodbye to Steve, Tony and I proceed home. The subject of medals came in the conversation. We started talking about ice cream and concluded that if we had a choice between a gold medal and ice cream we would choose ice cream. Neither one of us had to think about that choice.  The prize was clear. So we decided why not both the gold medal and ice cream have. Therefore, we stopped at Baskin Robbins on the way home.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Steve Prefontaine,Viktor Frankel,and San Lorenzo Trail Run

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." This quote comes from Steve Prefontaine and thanks to Tony. I don’t have 1000 reasons to keep running nor do you. If I needed 1000 reasons then I’d be in trouble. All it takes is one good reason to keep running. Hopefully, you’re running for the right reason. If you are, then all you need is one.
The meat of this matter lies in having a sense of self-satisfaction and achievement just like Steve Prefontaine. Although he was one hell runner or superstar, we can relate to getting self-satisfaction and achievement like him as a result of exercise. It is my guess that running gave meaning to this world-class athlete. People like Viktor Frankel, Ludwig Binswanger, and others have written about meaning, an existential point of view.
Man needs something for the sake of which to live. Current and past history has told about many individuals that would die for the sake of their ideals and values. The trigger or the key is to understand and incorporate your ideals or values. Frankel believed that the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day-to-day and from hour to hour. And that man should recognize that he has to be responsible. This responsibility or responsible-ness is the very essence of human existence.
To translate this in everyday terms is to take responsibility for your life. One way is to develop and create a sense of achievement for you. Road map to the accomplishment is by setting goals that can be realistically met. When you think about the future, set and achieve a realistic goal for you. One way to do that is to incorporate exercise into your life. You might say something like the following:” I don’t have the equipment”, or” I can afford to go to gym”.
Ret Taylor a 32-year-old can be spotted dangling upside down from a tree branch about 20 feet in the air in New York’s Central Park. Is gear consists of minimalist shoes based on the book “Born to Run”. His workout includes things like running, push-ups, crunches, pull-ups jumping jacks, and using objects in the park as equipment that you would find in a gym. To read more about him, go to the June 7, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal. This man has a good idea and he even gets people to join him on his workouts.  I will bet its fun.
Sunday, Tony and I have entered the half marathon at the San Lorenzo River trail run in Santa Cruz. For me, today is a rest day. Tony, on the other hand, according to him did an easy run and work out at the gym. Will see what happens Sunday?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alfred Adler,Goal Setting,Expectations and Felix Zandman

Although Alfred Adler was one of the charter members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and later its president, he separated from Sigmund Freud and developed his own theory of personality. For one, he developed a philosophical doctrine that was based more on idealistic positivism. He believed in the idea that man is motivated more by his expectations of the future than he is by the experiences of the past. This means that man employs expectations or levels of aspiration that guide and influence his behavior. In other words, he sets goals that are based upon expectancies. The more realistic the goals are results in more accomplishment. So it is important not to set one’s goals either too low or too high.  If the goal is set to low, it does little for your self esteem. If the goal is set too high, the chance of failure increases which is also negative for self-esteem. Goal setting and expectancies go hand-in-hand.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal on June 7, 2011 pertains to Felix Zandman. Felix was born in 1928 and died last week. His story is remarkable as he survived the Holocaust as a teenager. Apparently, as a teenager, he was crammed into a tiny underground chamber beneath a Polish peasant’s cottage. The article indicated that he was one of the few Jews in Grodno, a Polish city during World War II, which is now part of the Belarus, who survived the war. The story went on to indicate that his uncle taught him trigonometry and higher math by rote while underground.
Eventually Felix immigrated to the United States and founded a company that manufactured electronic resistors that he sold to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the military, and later to the computer industry. Clearly, this man focused on his future and obviously set goals and realistic expectations.
What does this have to do with exercise? In my book, “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” prescription number 7. Become inspired and motivated by reading the illuminating profiles of eight remarkable senior athletes found within this book. In reading about these athletes you will learn how the thinking process affects achievement and performance. One can learn about training, levels of aspiration, expectancies, and goal setting. The key is to focus on self talk and thinking positively. A downfall is listening to irrational held beliefs and self-defeating thoughts.
Pay attention to the dialogue that takes place between Tony and me related to our competitiveness.  Pay specific attention to our goals and how we talk about them. I like Alfred Adler’s philosophy and what he had to say about looking to the future.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

San Lorenzo River Trail Run and Competitiveness and Ego

Today’s blog relates to competitiveness and ego. One can make the argument that we are all competitive. Early man had to deal with such elements as food, safety, and cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex for survival. But certainly there are obvious differences when it comes to the degree of competitiveness in each of us. Alfred Adler, a psychiatrist from Vienna, talked about the importance of childhood experiences that predispose an influence personality development. He believed that 1. Children with inferiority's, 2. Spoiled children, and 3. Neglected children begin life with a weakness for which they compensate. In other words, the ego or the self becomes personalized, subjective, and makes the experiences meaningful and unique to that person.

Today’s run, with Tony, is a tapering for the San Lorenzo River Trail run Sunday. When you look up a description on the computer for the run you see people waist deep crossing the San Lorenzo River. An e-mail from the race director mentioned that this year the river is high. So, this trail run is going to be wet and difficult. The 50 K. records for this trail run are over five hours. That time for a 50 K. is long. Sunday is going to be a lot of fun and I can hardly wait. Steve S an endurance and ride and tie friend is going to be our host for the weekend.
Tony and I ran an easy 5 mile loop or so. In tapering, Tony mentioned that last week he ran all the hills in his attempt to beat me home. I ran up or should I say walked up Maine bar (a steep, rocky, ruddy, muddy, difficult trail) and he did a longer run across American Canyon. He ran at least 3 miles longer than I did. His mission was to beat me home at all costs. He didn’t care how much pain or discomfort he experienced since he was focused. Was he disappointed he didn’t beat me, yes? Did it matter to him that he had to run further? Didn’t matter how tired he got, his goal remained the same and consistent to his unique personality.

Tony also told me that under no conditions would he ever tell me that he’s tired during one of our runs. He knows or believes that I would take advantage of him and beat him during the run. Could that ever happen? Can I beat him running? So far, I haven’t found the right distance to race and to whip him. Will I ever find that right distance? I don’t know, but that is my mission which is unique to my personality. Here we have two young men competing in their own way against each other. I believe that Alfred Adler is correct and that the competitiveness that we both experience is related to experiences in our childhood. What do you think is the correct explanation? How do you account for our competitiveness? Let me know what you think.

In my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” one major topic that you will learn about is a psychological basis for understanding the underlying motivation of the competitors. I find understanding motivation to be extremely interesting. I hope you do also.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Modeling and Super Foods

Observational learning or modeling is one way we learn. The more important the person is to us, the more likely we pay attention and as a result can better incorporate what we see. A number of years ago, Albert Bandura, a psychologist, studied various variables related to  how we learn and what we tend to imitate. Maybe you have heard of imitative learning.
When you think about it, this suggests that women, especially mothers, play a very significant role in our health. This leads to the question “how important is what we eat related to health and performance”? Most of us would say that what and how we eat is important.  It is common knowledge that blueberries, spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes are packed with antioxidants that fight cell damage. How many of us know about the so-called number or portions of these foods per day are required? The old  pyramid has been replaced by the plate. We are now told that half of our plate should consist of fruits and vegetables.
A recent article in Trail Runner, May 2011, issue 72 talked about whole grains and gave  good examples of such as Quinoa, Popcorn, Soba noodles, and Barley. The author suggested that trail runners should have a daily diet rich in high-quality carbohydrates to ensure enough stored glycogen for fuel for the runner. The author added the following formula: “runners should eat about 2 g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day”.
What about “super foods” those found in health food stores distributed by companies such as “Bright Earth Foods”? There are some  that search all over the world, especially in South America, looking for those natural plants and herbs rich in fiber, antioxidants etc.  So, the female or mothers can become the expert in healthy foods and model that behavior to spouses, friends, children etc.  Or, the male can become the expert and be the model .And; maybe more of us should grow our own food employing hydroponics and other techniques? Just think how healthy we can become. In essence, the more control we take over our lives the better off we are.
Paying more attention to what you eat is likely to lead to better health. It takes more work but just think of who is going to reap the rewards. You heard that expression “you are what you eat”. Make it work for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ojai Valley Century Bike Ride

At the age of 62 I have just completed my first Century Bike Ride. Not only a bike ride, but it came with 5000 feet of elevation gain as well, so feeling pretty proud of myself.
For those that don't know me, I am Tony's sister. I have spent my life as a fitness and nutrition junkie and have concentrated primarily on biking, long distance hiking and cross country skiing. However the last 12 years I have been focused in the competitive sport of 3day Eventing. Upon the unexpected loss of my horse in December I decided to break out my road bike and see where it took me.
As a little bio - I went back to school 2 years ago and started my second career as and advanced personal trainer and nutritional consultant. With my education and personal life lessons I had a great base of fitness and health to start with, so 6 weeks ago I bought my new road bike and decided I needed goals and set my sights on a Century as the first one. I already could do 50miles easily and therefore only needed to ramp up my 1 long weekly ride 10% a week to reach 75miles to be ready. I played with my training as well as my fuel for the ride and came up with the perfect combination through much studying and research. I am pleased to report it was worth the effort, as I drank enough plain water to keep me hydrated (20oz and hour) to never feel thirsty and ate enough fuel approx 300cal an hour to never feel hungry. For endurance athletes it's not just important to have carbs, but you need protein and carbs in a 1-4 ratio. Yes our body uses carbs for fuel, however our muscles need protein to keep working efficiently and fend off lactic acid. Also the perfect nutrition for us all is a raw and plant based diet including protein in the same 1-4 ratio the week before the race. I know you all think carb loading is the best but that is old school. Yes you need carbs, but they need to be complex carbs not simple sugars and you need protein and yes you need it the night before as well. Don't change your diet, it should be correct all the time.

This was a tough Century, I thought I signed up for the 3500 elevation gain, but somehow got on the path to the 5000 ft elevation gain. It was tough but I was well prepared and the good news was that I was not depleted when it was over. Muscle tired? well yes, but not nutritionally depleted and no joint soreness and very little muscle soreness. I could in fact go out and ride my bike again today 50miles if I needed to which is a good feeling.

Speaking of muscle and joint soreness, please you long distance athletes out there, you must cross train and save the long distance for only 1 day a week. Do intervals and hill work 30 min 3 days a week using a Heart Rate monitor going from 50% for 2 min to 95% 2 min, repeat, and you will be more than prepared for your long event. Doing long training daily that is the same will develop repetitive stress injuries, especially in older athletes. I strength train 2 days in the gym,(highly important for bone health) spin 1 day, do intervals on an elliptical 2 days, and then do 1 long ride a week, 2 mod rides, 1- hour long hill ride. Yes some days I do a double workout and I do take a day off each week.
Posted By
Penny Fink

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pauline Betz,Ann Trason, Mary Tiscornia, Shay Bintliff, Julie Suhr , and Beverlee Bentley

How many of you know or are familiar with Pauline Betz? What about Li Na or Francesca Schiavone? To not leave you with any more suspense, Pauline recently died at age 91. She was a dominant women’s tennis player in the 1940s. Na and Schiavone are ancient tennis players, aged 29 and 31 respectively, who face each other in this year’s French Open. They are the oldest women’s final match up in the tournament within the last 25 years. This important bit of information is found in the Wall Street Journal June 3, 2011.Other names that you may or may not be familiar with include Ann Trason, Mary Tiscornia, Shay Bintliff, Julie Suhr, and Beverlee Bentley. I bet you’re dying to find out about these women? First, Ann dominated women’s ultra running. She won more Western states 100s than any other female. She is awesome, spectacular, and one tough woman.
\Mary has competed in more ride and tie world championships than any other human. That also includes the men. She is an equestrian who excels at jumping and endurance as well. She is knowledgeable, skilled, and focused.
Julie has completed more Tevis Cup competitions than anyone. That also includes the men. To find out more about her I refer you to her book “Riding Tall “. She is a woman’s woman. She is engaging, friendly, and obviously quite the skilled equestrian.
Doc Shay is a physician who competes in the Molokai to Oahu Outrigger canoe race. She was in the first women’s boat crossing and has never stopped. She has competed in that race more than anyone else in the world. To find out more about her you’ll have to read “It Has Nothing to Do With Age”.
Beverlee is a gold medal competitor in the sport of rowing. She is relatively new to the sport but has made her mark. To find out more about her you’ll have to read “It Has Nothing to Do With Age”.
You might be wondering why the focus on these healthy women? Let me present a few facts : there is a 29% probability of a woman surviving to age 90, compared with 16% for her husband; 1/3 proportion of women ages 75 to 84 still living with their husbands; 63% of women  who are anxious about the longevity of their retirement savings compared with 52% of men; 70%  of women  are worried about health care costs compared with 57% of men; and $82,000 is the average lifetime cost of long-term care services for women, compared with $ 29,000 for men.  Other statistics include: 86% of women want to spend time traveling; 74% of women want to pursue hobbies and interests; 64% of women want to get involved in their communities; and 62% of women who are interested in philanthropic work. For men, the interest in pursuing all of the above in retirement is considerably lower. The source for the statistics is found in Merrill Lynch Advisor, Spring 2011.
So here’s the problem. Women, because you live longer than men why not enjoy it free from chronic illness and disabilities. So it is clear to me that women have to take better care of themselves. It’s important not to wait for tomorrow. Start a program now to help for your future. If the program means to start walking, then do it. Enrich your life in the present to help deal with the future and begin your own program. Employ “It Has Nothing to Do With Age” as one model to incorporate. There are many sisters that you can follow.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Expectancy,Verbal Feedback ,Optimism, and Performance

Additional comments about yesterday’s article on optimism. According to the article, neuroscientist Sara Bengtsson conducted an experiment in which she manipulated positive and negative expectations of college students. During the experiment these students had brain scans while being tested on cognitive tasks. Sara , in the experiment, induced expectations of success using words such as” smart, intelligent, and clever” just before asking them to perform a test. To induce expectations of failure, she primed them with words like”stupid and ignorant” Guess what she found? Students given positive words performed better. Can this be a surprise? Of course there is more to the experiment.
 Tali Sharot went on to comment about expectations and self fulfilling prophecies. He pointed out that brains that do not expect good results lack a signal telling it, “take notice-wrong answer!” Sharot believes that these brains fail to learn from their mistakes and are less likely to improve over time. He added that expectations become self fulfilling by altering performance and actions. In other words expectations transform the way we perceive the world without altering reality.
 In my dissertation, I studied motivation and performance with school age children.  I wanted to answer the question “why do some children fail in school”?   My study focused on the following variables: the relationship between behavior and reward; a personality construct called locus of control (the degree to which individuals perceive themselves to be in control of reward); and pupil expectancy.
In my research study, the experimenter used positive words like  I think you’re going to do” very well” and negative words like  I think you’re going to do” very poorly”. Would an experimenter using positive or negative words change student expectancy on an arithmetic test?   Did the locus of control personality variable influence behavior? What about the expectations of the students-did their expectations of success or failure matter? All in all, I tested six hypotheses. Like Bengtsson, I found that positive words are more effective than negative words in influencing student expectancy. I also found that high expectancy kids did better than low expectancy kids on the task presented to them.
For me, it was clear back in 1973 that our level of aspiration or expectations is a very powerful motivator related to performance. So, we know that we are wired for optimism. We know that our perception of the world is how we see the world regardless of reality. We know that our thoughts influence and are influenced by past behavior, rational and irrational thoughts or beliefs, and our degree of mental health-depression, anxiety etc. We also know that optimists generally work longer hours, make more money, save more, take vitamins, eat low-fat diets, exercise more and likely healthier.
In essence, it is important to create a better lifestyle and perhaps a better way of thinking about one’s life. One way to do that is to follow prescription 7. become inspired and motivated by reading the illuminating profiles of 7 remarkable senior athletes found within the book It Has Nothing To Do With Age. The book is due to come out in October. Watch this blog for the book trailer.
By the way, today’s 10 mile or so training run went well. I turned up Maine Bar while Tony went further by coming up American Canyon. He felt good about his run too. From Tony: Frank didn't tell the whole story about todays run. When we parted at the bottom of Maine Bar (Maine Bar is about 3/4 of a mile straight up) American River Canyon Trail is about 5 miles to ALT the end of our run. Talk about optimism my goal was to beat frank to ALT I knew this was pretty much impossible but the thought kept me going and I ran just about as hard as I could. No I did not beat him but it didn't matter just the thought that I might be able to kept me running hard.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Optimism,Trail Running, and Cognitive Psychotherapy

The June 6, 2011 article in Time titled “The Optimism Bias” by Tali Sharot explains neurologically the hard wire process of how we operate. In other words, the capacity for optimism lies within our brain structure. This scientist identifies  the prefrontal cortex( the area responsible for planning and goal setting); the hippo campus(  the area crucial to memory); the amygdala( the area that allows us to process emotions; the caudate( the area which processes rewards); and the rostral  anterior cingulate cortex( the area that boosts the flow of positive emotions) the components in both the right and left sides of our brain that is responsible for our optimism.
This neurological model helps explain our short-term memory, why many of us simply forget the pain, and are future oriented. Take for example, my recent training run on Sunday. I was miserable, in discomfort, tired, and felt like my legs were stuck in concrete. Was I having fun? Are you kidding? Do I want to re-experience that five hour self-inflicted torture again? No! I can easily think of other events, that at different moments, I felt like crap such as during the Western states 100, the American River 50, other training runs, and more recently my 50 K. run in Malibu. If I just focused on the discomfort and the negative, I would not again set foot on the trail nor would you.
Thank goodness we are hardwired to be more optimistic than realistic. Just think of all the examples in our lives that parallel my trail running example. We know that generally speaking, we expect things to turn out better than they do.  When it comes to interpersonal relationships, and health issues, we often think the better. We don’t necessarily think that our relationships are going to fail nor do we think we are going to come down with a terrible disease. So this optimism component is related to the evolutionary mechanism in brain development. We don’t just focus and become stuck by what happened in the past. If we did, just think of the limitations. We think things will be better. Notice the importance of thinking in all this.  How we think about events is extremely important.
Now of course, I am not talking about somebody who is clinically depressed, has an anxiety disorder diagnosis or some other mental illness. If you’re depressed or anxious you get stuck in doom or gloom, and are in a state of constant worry.  If you have a  panic disorder diagnosis, you don’t feel in control and might think you’re going crazy. The fear is devastating and one might think that they are dying because of all the discomfort in and around the chest that they experience. Fortunately, there is psychotherapy and medication as main treatments. In addition, physical exercise is recommended as well. Research has shown that physical exercise 3 to 5 times a week along with proper diet reduces depression and anxiety. Cognitive psychotherapy, group therapy or group classes, medication, exercise, diet has shown to be of great benefit. Remember, prescription # 1. Get inspired. It’s okay to begin a new activity by taking baby steps. A physical activity can help in improving physical fitness, losing weight, reducing anxiety, and minimizing depression that is found in “It Has Nothing To Do With Age”. Remember to embrace your optimism and how you think about it.