Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: March 2012
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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sitting is Hazardous to your Health

How much sitting in a chair, during a 24 hour day, are you doing?  Sitting in a chair, for long amounts of time, is a major contributor to poor health in this country. Think about it for a moment.  Would it be interesting to you to know how many minutes or hours a day you find yourself sitting down?  How much time do you spend driving in a car, eating your meals, at your computer or some other electronic device, in an office, or sitting around talking to friends and family?
Why not with a stopwatch record time spent sitting during a week day and evening along with one day, from the weekend.  This will give you some idea as to how much time spent being active, vs. time spent being inactive. Sitting is detrimental to your health.
The body, regardless of age, adapts to whatever you do with it. Too much time spent without moving results in your body becoming stiff and uncomfortable to move. Further, being sedentary results in muscle fiber connective tissue contracting since the fibers gets stiffer and less flexible.  When this happens, the body produces less and less of its natural lubricating substances.  When tissues, muscles become dry, short and inflexible they are more likely to tear since lack of movement lowers the blood supply in the bones.  With a lower blood supply, bones become brittle and more fragile.
Other significant findings of too much sitting include the following:  1. When sitting, the electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts off.  2. Calorie burning drops to one per minute .3 Enzymes that help break down fat drops by 90%. . 4. After two hours of sitting, good cholesterol drops by 20%.  5. When, in a fixed position, like sitting, the muscles in the torso, neck and shoulders squeeze blood vessels, reducing blood flow and causing fatigue.  6.  Insulin levels effectiveness drops and the risk of diabetes rises.   7. High amounts of stress are placed on the spine specifically the lower back and neck. 8. Blood often pools in the lower legs which can cause numbness and varicose veins .9.  Decreased fitness reduces lung and heart efficiency, and a higher risk for injury and disease.
If you are sitting too much, how about making some changes?  For example, consider the following: 1. Move around, walk, climb stairs and repeatedly bend and straighten major joints in your arms and legs.  2. Frequent movement will help keep your sense of balance sharp, helping to  prevent life altering falls that are the biggest cause of death and disability for those  age 65 and older.  3. Figure out a way to replace a half hour of sitting with a half-hour of movement i.e. walk around the block .4. Plan 2 minutes of active movement during every half hour of sitting- walk to the living room, go outside and walk around your yard .
Make sure you have good ratio of setting to movement and remember not to sit too long.  Standing is better than sitting and as my Kansas City Chief football friend Ed Budde told me “keep moving.”
Sources include: British Medical Journal; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Science Daily; Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eating Chocolate and Keeping Thin

Chocolate lovers, guess what? How does this sound to you? A group of researchers inquired about the chocolate eating habits of 1000 adults in Southern California.  These subjects were asked questions such as the number of times a week they consumed chocolate.  According to this article found in the March 27, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal, their BMI (height and weight) index was also measured along with questions pertaining to types of food and beverages.  Incidentally, the study was funded by the National Institute of Health.
 Statistically, this group :  ate  chocolate, on average, two times a week; exercised 3.6 times a week;  with an average age of 57; nearly 70% were men; and their average BMI index was 2.8( considered overweight).  These 1000 chocolate eating individuals are not a representative sample.  In other words, we have to be conservative about what generalizations can be made from this research.
In any event, the findings of these 1000 were interesting: 1. The participants who ate chocolate more often also consumed more calories overall then there chocolate counterparts 2.  These same participants (more calories) did not exercise more than their chocolate counterparts.  3 Those participants eating a small amount of chocolate five days during the week had a lower BMI Index.  One researcher concluded that the composition of calories, not just the amount was a major reason for weight loss.  Since this was a correlation or association study statistically, not cause-and-effect, do not eat more chocolate if you are planning on losing weight and want a lower BMI index.  Also, this study did not compare chocolate to non-chocolate eaters.
Let us not forget that eating dark chocolate has benefits. Dark chocolate positives include: 1 concentration of antioxidants 2 modest reduction in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol.  3 boost energy producing elements of the body’s cells. However, not to discourage you, another study found that people who ate more chocolate were more likely to be depressed.
You are welcome to draw your own conclusions from this study.   Secretariat and I,  both enjoy our chocolate, especially dark chocolate.  Further, I sometimes think about the benefits of dark chocolate but more often than not, I like it because it tastes good. Give me any day, anytime of day, a scoop or two of chocolate or double chocolate ice cream topped with Saunders hot fudge.   What is your favorite treat?
Well, it is time for me to put on running gear and get ready for today’s morning run.  Secretariat and I are running this morning. One of the benefits of trail running is being able to eat chocolate treats and laughing about it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Julie Suhr,Tevis Cup,Wendell Robie and Western States Trail

 "I learn by going where I have to go."– Theodore Roethke
This Thursday, the 29th at 6 PM, will be a fundraiser for the Western States Trail Foundation. Julie Suhr, a Tevis Cup legend, will be the principal speaker.  In fact, Julie has 22 completions, to her credit, on this historic ride.  Her first Tevis was in 1965  and her last in 2000. Join us at the fairgrounds in Auburn, to celebrate and honor Julie.
This historic one day 100 mile ride currently begins at Robie Park and ends at McCann Stadium in Auburn.  Historically the ride began in 1955 when five riders:” Nick Mansfield, William Patrick, Pat Sewell, Richard Highfield, and Wendell Robie said they could ride over 9,000 feet of summit, go through deep canyons, and follow a trail that no other horseman had traveled on such a ride.  This ride has a lot of unknowns.  One major question was, could a horseback rider travel and cover 100 miles in a day?”   For more tales about Wendell Robie, consult my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age”; and Bill G. Wilson’s book, “Challenging the Mountains: the Life and Times of Wendell T.  Robie.”
Specifically, the Tevis riders ascend approximately 19,000 linear feet and descend approximately 23,000 linear feet during this 24 hour ride.  In addition to the ups and downs, temperatures, during the event, can range from 40 to 120°F.   Since this is a 24 hour ride, and the trail becomes difficult to follow, Glow-sticks tied to branches are used to mark the trail.   This difficult ride could not be accomplished, on these narrow, hazardous trails, even during a full moon, if the equines did not have night vision.
 Jeff Herten M.D. a Tevis Cup competitor, Western States 100 mile endurance runner, a ride and tie participant in the world championship ride recommended the following for Tevis participants: 1. Show up, at the starting line in your best physical shape .2.  Do as much heat training as possible:  have enough water to keep you hydrated, since dehydration can impair judgment. 3.  Make sure that you take electrolytes. 4.  Check with your family doctor regarding medications and heat tolerance.5.  Make sure that you eat early and often during the ride. 6.  Make sure that you have clothes that does not chafe. 7.  Keep emergency medical information with you during the ride.
A few risk factors during this ride are as follows: 1 Injury from falling .2.  Wildlife hazards .3 Vehicle hazards. 4 Motorcycles and mountain bikes .5 Altitude sickness. 6 Overuse injuries. 7. Fatigue and dehydration .8 Getting lost.  9.  Difficulty in gaining access to, or locating injured participants.
Ride and tie competitor, Carrie Barrett plans to compete in this year’s event. Secretariat and I told her that we would run while she rides to familiarize herself with the trail.  There is an open invitation to join us when we accompany Carrie.   There is plenty of room for more riders and runners on the trail between Devils Thumb and White Oak Flat a distance of approximately 40 miles. Incidentally, Secretariat has 10 completions from 1985 through 1999.  Do not forget to join us tomorrow evening.
PS. See link on blog for reviews of It Has Nothing To Do With Age by Jeff Herten MD and Julie Suhr.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Insomnia,Unhealthy Sleep Habits and Prescription Medication

Are you one of the 30% of adults who have symptoms of insomnia?  The symptoms include: 1. Trouble falling asleep.  2.  Trouble staying asleep.  3.  Waking up too early.  4.  Overall poor quality of sleep.
 Woman and older people have more difficulty achieving adequate amounts of good sleep quality.  Detecting and alleviating chronic insomnia may help reduce the risk of developing depression and anxiety. Are you one of those that can fall asleep more easily (being on the couch watching TV) when you are not trying to sleep? Does any of this sound familiar?
 Do you have any of the following 10 habits?  If you do, remember these unhealthy habits may undermine your sleep:
1.       Inactivity-physical activity helps relieve stress, reduces cortisol production, and helps normalize sleep architecture.
2.      Overeating and indigestion-weight loss often improves sleep quality.
3.      Over stimulation- the areas of the brain that regulate sleep do not turn on and off like a switch.
4.      Excessive worry-activation of frontal cortices, limbic system, amygdalae, autonomic nervous system, and adrenal glands severely compromise sleep as result of the spike of adrenaline and cortisol.
5.      Erratic schedules- instead cooperate with the rhythms of nature.
6.      Over extension-combining number three, four, and five.
7.      Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol-avoid caffeine within seven hours of bedtime; nicotine withdrawal could begin within a few hours of last cigarette; alcohol is a chemical process, but it can suppress dream sleep early in the night then provoke REM rebound later on.
8.      Bedroom blunders A.  Temperature- avoid being too hot or too cold. B. Light-luminescent light on an alarm clock can stimulate the reticular activating system in the brain stem. C. Noise-keep it quiet.  D. Clutter-remove it. E. pets-may disrupt sleep levels. F. Bed –get a new mattress every 8 to 10 years; new pillows every two years or so.  G. space –avoid restrictive heavy bedding.  H. Spouse- few people can sleep well if the person next to them is thrashing, snoring, coughing or getting up and down to go to the bathroom.
9.      Napping-avoid napping more than 45 minutes and keep naps before 3 PM.
10.  Pill popping-Meds can interfere with normal sleep patterns.
If changing your habits does not work, other options may have to be considered. This information was based on a continuing education class put on by the Institute for Natural Resources.
However, prescription meds such as Ambien, Restoril, Sonata or Lunesta may or may not be the solution to insomnia. For example, Dr. Daniel Kripke of the Scripps clinic in La Jolla, California conducted a study comparing 10,529 people using prescription sleeping pills.  The findings, of this research, suggested that there was a 35% increased risk for cancer with people using prescription sleeping pills compared to people not taking sleeping pills.  And the risk of developing lymphoma, lung, colon, or prostate cancer was greater than the risk for smokers. This information was found in the March/April 2012 edition of The National Psychologist.
 Hopefully, you will change your habits, as a first step, before considering medication. Sweet dreams.  As Secretariat said today “I like sleeping.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bariatric Surgery,BMI,Body Fat,Calories, Cardiovascular Disease and Weight Loss

 Are you concerned about your mortality because of excess weight?   Have you ever considered a surgical procedure for stomach shrinkage?    Consider this recent study found in the January 4, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal. 4000 Swedish surgical patients were followed over  a 15 year period.   The findings of the research were interesting.  It was true that heart related deaths, heart attacks and strokes were reduced, by the surgical procedures, but surprisingly they were not associated to the degree or amount of weight loss.  In other words, the more weight you lost, by surgical procedure, did not guarantee that you would live longer however; surgical procedures resulted in biological benefits for these Swedish patients.
 These researchers  were amazed  by their findings.However, there were surgical benefits. In fact , surgery was associated with a reduction in death from any cause, and there were better outcomes for cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions. Let us call these  results side effects from surgery.  The explanation given, for this outcome, was that the biological effects of surgery lowered levels of a hormone called leptin. This hormone appeared to explain the benefits and the success of surgery. Yea for surgery.
There was a graph from 1992 through the year 2010 that showed a tremendous increase in bariatric surgeries in the United States.  In 1992 there were proximately 18,000 surgeries and in year 2008 approximately 225,000.  I certainly do not want to be included in that statistic, do you? I want surgery to be the last resort or option for me.
Also in the Wall Street Journal was a study that suggested that weight gain was not necessarily related to fat, protein or carbohydrates. Weight gain was simply associated to the amount of calories consumed.  In this particular study, 25 healthy men and women were deliberately fed approximately 1000 excess calories a day for about two months.
 The researchers varied amounts of protein and fat (low protein, normal protein, high protein) and divided the subjects into these three groups.  Even though the subjects in the low protein group lost the most weight, levels of body fat, increased by essentially the same amount regardless of the group. Body fat might be more important than the percentage of fat, protein and carbohydrates in your diet .Cut calories to reduce body fat.
 Regular exercise was not part of the study, and these participants were monitored to make sure they ate all the food they were given.  Turkey, chicken, tuna and pork chops were among the protein sources.  One conclusion from the study was that fat reduction was maybe more important than weight loss in treating patients with obesity.  In other words, body fat might be a more reliable and accurate measure of health than BMI (height and weight). In essence, pay attention to the amount of calories   consumed since excess calories build’s body fat. How many calories do you require compared to how many calories you want?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Confronting Achilles with NSAIDs and Ice Today and Tomorrow

"Choices are the hinges of destiny."– Pythagoras
Shortly after completing the Way Too Cool 50 K. on March 10, Secretariat left for Southern California to visit his 96-year-old mother.  At that point, I decided to rehab my swollen Achilles.  I have had this overuse Achilles issue since 2010. Generally it begins to bother me after the first three hours or so of a trail run. Then, my discomfort comes and goes.  After a run, treatment includes incorporating ice and ibuprofen.  I ice for about half an hour every hour or so until bedtime.  I take 600 to 800 mgs after my run and again before bedtime.   By the next morning, I am generally good to go again. Since 2011, I have limited my trail runs to 50 Ks. or less.  I have remarked, to Secretariat, many times, that I felt much better running the shorter distances.
This time, for the past two weeks, I have incorporated the following rehab program: 1. I have limited my daily trail or treadmill runs to 5 miles. 2.  I have walked the uphills. 3.  I take 400 mgs of ibuprofen every four hours after my trail run until bed time 4.  I use an orthopedic boot daily 3 to 5 hours.
This program was an attempt to reduce my Achilles inflammation. So far, I still have inflammation. Once Secretariat returns, I plan to run longer distance trail runs and evaluate.
Another way to rehab is no running for 2 to 4 weeks.  At this point, I am not interested in that plan, or considering cortisone injections or possibly surgery.  I do not know anyone who has had successful injections or surgery. I’ll see you all on the trail.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tim Tebow,Peyton Manning,Bill Gates and National Security

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote about the cognitive  or intellectual decline during the life cycle.  Research suggested that schooling was associated with intellectual variance. Make yourself smarter, by attending a good school with excellent teachers, with an outstanding curriculum.
In the March 21, 2012 edition to the Wall Street Journal, there was an article titled “Weak Schools Said to Imperil Security.  The article went on to say that there are flaws in US schools.  Translated, schools in the US are producing adults, in the 21st century, without the necessary math, science and language skills.  This report was issued by the Council on Foreign Relations.    The report went on to say that we are not only having an educational crisis in this country, but a national security issue as well.  Too many of our schools are failing to educate students for the workforce, in this century, and are not teaching basic civics that prepare students for citizenship.  Also   the report    mentioned that there was a variance in necessary resources among the schools especially schools in which students are at risk.  As a result of these variances, our countries future economic prosperity, global position and physical safety are at risk.
Further, more than half of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are unqualified to join the military because of not completing high school or graduating, without the necessary or adequate math, science and English skills.  When comparing US students on international assessment tests to countries of the world, US students performed not as well as their counterparts.  Students in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Hungary, and Luxembourg tested higher in reading, math and science.  Not only are there  shortages of qualified workers in US life science and aerospace industries , but the  State Department  and intelligence agencies are facing critical language shortfalls in areas of strategic interest.
This report was prepared for a New York-based nonpartisan think tank and publisher group.  This task force had 30 members and was led by Condoleezza Rice former Secretary of State and Joel Klein, former New York City Schools Chancellor.
Too many students are not receiving a qualified education. Not attaining necessary skills    suggests a likely limited job and career choice.   This   is not only an individual waste but also places the country at risk.  Bill Gates, in his evaluation of the public schools, reported that having excellent teachers was a major variable when it comes to student learning. Joel Kirsch is implementing a program, in Novato, California that includes physical activity as a major part of the curriculum. We do know how to fix this problem.
It is clear that we can do more when it comes to our kids and our country.  Consider, assisting within your family, and then moving on to the local school district.  Working from the ground up, is a good place to start.
PS. Y’all know that Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow, the important stuff, dominate the news media.  Our values are what?
"He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality."– Anwar al-Sadat

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is Your Brain Getting Smarter ?

Are you getting smarter as you age or not?  Are you more intelligent than you were in high school or not?   If there are changes in intelligence, what might be the influences?  An article in January 10, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal had an article titled “New Insight Into Aging Brains.” 
A study published in the Journal Nature, evaluated the relationship of genes to the environment as they contribute to fluctuations in a person’s intelligence between adolescence and old age.  Scientists from the University Edinburgh, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Queensland in Australia conducted the study.
These researchers looked at a Scotland database of 1,940 unrelated individuals. Their intelligence was first measured at age 11, and then at age 65, 70 or 79.  These subjects also provided blood for DNA analysis.  The researchers using statistical techniques came up with the following associations between genes and the environment, and how intelligence levels shifted over the years.  Some of their conclusions were as follows: 1. Many of the same genetic factors seem to explain why people differ in intelligence in childhood and old age .2.  People tend (not all) to retain a similar ranking in intelligence between childhood and old age. 3.  24% of the lifespan changes in intelligence could be linked to genes, the rest to environmental factors.
Other studies have concluded the following: 1. A gene called Apolipoprotein E can contribute to a small amount of cognitive aging. 2.  A person’s intelligence level as measured by IQ tests can rise or fall as a person ages-IQ scores can  increase or decrease as many as 20 points in just a few years.  3.  IQ scores change after just a few weeks of cognitive training but fade after a few months. 4.  People whose jobs involve setting up elaborate systems or dealing with tough or complex relationships tended to do better over time on cognitive tests .5.  Schooling has been shown to boost IQ, while music lessons have been associated with higher IQ throughout life.
What conclusions are to be drawn from this newspaper article?  First, the environment plays a major role in developing intelligence.  Second,   we are learning more about genetics and its relationship to intelligence. These conclusions are of no surprise.
If over 70% of cognition, as measured by a intelligence test, is related to our choices, then we better make sure we have reliable information.  Reconsider what you eat, the amount of physical activity, as well as the intellectual challenges that you seek out.  In other words, continue learning.  My father would say to me “use your brain not just your back.”  He was right again. Your parents might be smarter than you think.
"We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn."– Mary Catherine Bateson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Evaluating Peyton Manning,Einstein, and Beer

Yesterday’s blog was comprised of two contrasting articles related to drinking alcohol and working out.  The first article was found in the Washington Post and the writer identified the negative effects of alcohol on exercising athletes.  The second article was about the virtues of drinking beer while exercising. Which article was more accurate?
 In evaluating the credibility of an article, consider the following: 1. The credentials and/or expertise of the writer. 2.  Where the article appeared, the source, the date – a newspaper, a magazine, a scientific journal, etc. 3.  The basis for the information, the statistics, the findings etc.  – was it opinion, was it a research study, was it a survey etc. 4. The funding for the article- a paid commercial, a drug company, a government agency, etc.  5. The bias of the writer- where was the money coming from to pay salary and/ or the agenda?
In other words, there are a number of variables to consider when evaluating the material.  If the article was  found in a scientific journal, more than likely the research paradigm met scientific criteria, i.e. hypotheses, null hypotheses, experimental design, levels of significance, etc. if the data did not come from a scientific or professional  journal, then we must question the results, findings or opinions.
When findings are presented or summarized, let’s hope that the writer was accurate. If you ever listened to talk radio or watched television news, you might question what was being said since the speaker did not seem to worry about accuracy. In any event, good luck in evaluating, what you read and what you hear.
In the March 10-11, 2012 edition to the Wall Street Journal, a computational analysis of the conversation and social networks was computed using 33,000 posts. The following was reported on the online buzz about Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.  To give a few samples: 21%   were classified as Anger.  ”The Colts deserve another season like their last .”   34%   were classified as Love for Peyton. ” Peyton is one classy dude.”  The article did identify the online sources.
 Some of my criticisms of this article include: 1. 33,000 posts were not random, nor were they universal, which translated –the sample was biased.  With a biased sample, generalizations cannot be made with any degree of accuracy.  2.  The classification such as “love” and the example presented was questionable.  To call Peyton, one classy dude, and put that in the love category was arbitrary and subjective.  If someone called you classy, that does not mean they love you?  A classy dude can be associated with “thinking highly of you, admiring you, respecting you.”   Further, what can you conclude or learn from the people in that survey?  Aside  that online  people have  different opinions (anger, love, speculation, jokes) about Peyton leaving the Colts, not much  more as far as I am concerned.
From Secretariat: If someone called me a classy Dude I would hit him. Now Stud Muffin I could live with.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."– Albert Einstein

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Effect of Alcohol and Working Out and The Joy of Haveing a Beer After Your Run

   Just the other day, Secretariat sent me a Washington Post article related to working out and  alcohol.  This article was going to be a dilemma since having a beer, generally after a workout, has been a habit or routine since I have known him.  The “custom” has been, for the group, to drink beer after an endurance ride, training ride, training run, or running event. Most often we run in the morning and at times return home before noon.  When home, I give him a choice of either a Coke or a beer.  What do you think he prefers? If you said “beer”, you guessed right.
Recently, while I was running the Jed Smith 50 K., Secretariat, on one of the loops, was given a beer at an unofficial aid station.  And on the last loop, he was looking to have a second one.  On another occasion, Secretariat, Carrie and I were running back from Cool.  He ran ahead of Carrie and me, and stopped at Chris Turney’s for a beer while waiting for us. These examples   illustrate his fondness for drinking beer.
Briefly, the article stated that alcohol in your system was detrimental to any type of fitness activity.  To illustrate: 1. hard workouts drained glycogen stores and major muscle tissue in need of repair.  So instead of stalling your recovery process by drinking a beer, drink low-fat chocolate milk, or peanut butter on whole wheat crackers.
2.  Alcohol increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which further encouraged self storage of fat typically in your midsection.  In other words, booze breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat.
3. Alcohol slowed muscle recovery, performance and disrupted sleep as well.  Disrupting   the sleep cycle reduced   human growth hormone output.   You do not want to do that, because HGH builds muscle.
4. Alcohol   irritated   the stomach lining, which reduced nutrient absorption capacity. It also contributed to dehydration which hurts performance.
 I asked Secretariat if he was having a beer, after his running competition this past Saturday. His reply was something to the effect that “life is too short to eliminate all your pleasures.”  Okay, do not change your habit or pleasure.   Some behaviors are difficult to change. So when reading something that is contrary to what you do, cognitive dissonance sets in. And , thinking is employed that justifies the behavior.
Secretariat, I do not want to disrupt your pleasure,  but  do you honestly think you would run more efficiently if you  drank chocolate milk  after your training runs?

From Secretariat: Since Frank is bating me hear I will have to respond. Since I sent him the article that he talks about above. I will now hit him with another one.

Beer Benefits

There's nothing like a cool pint after a hot run - and it might even do you good

Posted: 12 May 2008
by Kerry McCarthy

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," said Benjamin Franklin – and who are we to argue with such an august figure?
The problem most runners have, though, is reconciling sinking a couple of cold ones with the consequential effect on their training. However, although we all know the dangers of drinking too much, moderate beer drinking may be better for us than we think.

Here comes the science bit...

Beer, like red wine, does have health benefits. The malt and hops used in both lager and bitter contain flavonoids, which counter cell damage and help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Beer also contains B-vitamins and chromium, which help in converting carbohydrate to energy; and choline, which, ironically, protects against liver damage and memory loss. In 2003, a review of studies showed that while heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of a stroke, moderate consumption may lower it. The recommended daily intake for athletes is 500ml (just under one pint) for men and 250ml (just under a half) for women.
There are also benefits linked to recovery from exercise, says nutritionist Kim Pearson ( "Beer contains predominantly water and carbohydrate, both of which are essential in post-race recovery," she says. "A recent study at Granada University in Spain found that the sugars, salts and bubbles in a pint can help athletes absorb fluids more quickly than rehydrating with water.
"The carbon dioxide in beer helps quench thirst more quickly, while the carbohydrates replace some of the calories lost through exercise."

Moderate consumption is the key to enjoying a guilt-free beer.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Identifying Sources of Time Stress

Previously, the following were provided as related to stress:  Internal Stress Index, External Stress Index, stress signals and its effects of chronic stress, problem-solving for stress, and identifying the sources of job stress.
  Today’s blog pertains to helping identify sources of time stress or difficulties that some people experience. Source is the Inst. for Natural Resources.  Examples of time stress are as follows:
--My time is controlled by factors beyond my control
_Chronic overload
_Occasional overload
_Alternating periods of overload and under load
_Pressure related to deadlines
_Disorganization of my time
_Separating home and work
_Finding time for regular exercise
_Finding time for daily periods of relaxation
_Finding time for friends, family, vacations
_Saying yes when I later wish I had said no
_Feeling overwhelmed by large tasks over an extended period of time
_Avoiding important task by fretting away time on less important ones
_Unable to delegate because distrust quality of other’s performance
_Unable to delegate, because no one to delegate to
_My perfectionist tendencies cause delays
_I tend to leave tasks unfinished
_ Too many projects going on at one time
_ I tend to worry even when it is not necessary
_Lose concentration while thinking about other things I have to do
_Not enough alone time
 Now that you have identified sources of stress related to time, figure out concrete steps that you might take to deal with or remedy the ones that apply to you.
As you can see by now, living in this century, without stress, is not exactly easy. Life gets complicated and the negative stress we experience is not good for us and interferes with our aging.  The problem of negative stress is our responses to it.  If we do not deal effectively with negative stress, we simply exacerbate the problem.  Symptoms   and ailments are    proof of ineffectiveness.
Some ways to consider in dealing and combating stress and its destructive effects include diet and exercise.  The B. vitamins also help our mind and body cope with stress, while regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise  enable us to meet life’s challenges with a more relaxed and healthy attitude. I am running today, how about you?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Measurement of Job Stress

Yesterday I ran a short 5 mile loop in the rain with my dog Digger.  I was not particularly looking forward to running in the rain; however, I did it anyway, because I knew the positives would outweigh the negatives.  Sure enough, I felt better and had more energy after my brief sojourn.  My experience told me over and over again that physical exercise is one way to deal with everyday stresses.  I plan to run today, even though it is raining, as well.
The following self-assessment can help identify sources of job stress.  Rate your experience and your job during the past year using the following scale: 0= never, 1= occasionally, 2= somewhat often, 3=frequently, 4= always
Lack of control
_I lack the authority to carry out certain responsibilities
_I feel trapped in a situation without any real options.
_I am unable to influence decisions that affect me.
_There are a lot of requirements that get in the way of my doing certain tasks.
_I cannot solve the problems assigned to me.
Information gap
_I am unsure about the responsibilities of my job.
_I do not have enough information to carry out certain tasks.
_I am unqualified for certain tasks that I am expected to do.
 _Others I work with are not clear about what I do.
_I do not understand the criteria used to evaluate my performance.
Cause and effect
_There is no relationship between how I perform and how I am rated.
_I sense that popularity and politics are more important than performance.
_I do not know what my supervisor thinks of my performance.
_I do not know what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong.
_There is no relationship between how I perform and how I am treated.
_I am expected to satisfy conflicting needs.
_I disagree with co—workers.
_I disagree with my supervisor.
_I am caught in the middle.
_I cannot get what I need to get the job done.
Blocked career
_I feel pessimistic about opportunities for advancement or growth in my job.
_My supervisor or boss is critical.
_I feel unaccepted by the people I work with.
_ My good work is not appreciated or noticed.
_My progress on the job seems less than it could be.
_I have too much to do and too little time to do it.
_I take on new responsibilities without letting go of any of the old ones.
_My job seems to interfere with my personal life.
 _I must do my work on my own time.
_The size of my workload interferes with how well I do it.
Values Conflict
_I must do things that are against my better judgment.
_I must make compromises in my values.
_My family and friends do not respect what I do.
_I observe my coworkers doing things that I do not approve of.
_My company pressures employees to do things that are unethical or unsafe.
Hopefully, this tool provides insight to you regarding your job stress.  Scores of 12 or more in any category suggest that action is necessary.
Reference provided by the Institute for Natural Resources.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Managing and Coping with Stress

Previous blogs included both an internal and external stress index.  Today’s blog has to do with symptoms or signals of stress and the possible effects of chronic stress.   As we know, it seems impossible to live in a stress-free environment. Competing in the Way Too Cool 50 K. is an example.   Do a self-evaluation and see if any of the following pertain to you: 1. Headaches 2.  Intestinal problems-diarrhea or constipation 3.  Muscle tension, back pain and other types of pain; clenched teeth 4.  Restlessness, irritability, frustration, moodiness, anger 5.  Difficulty making decisions, forgetfulness   6.  Eating problems-loss of appetite 7.  Sleeping problems-trouble falling asleep, waking up early, being unable to fall sleep again; over sleeping, sleeping too much; disturbing dreams 8.  Stomach distress, ulcers, knot or butterflies in stomach 9.  High blood pressure   10.  Chronic fatigue 11.  Decreased zest for life, worry, fear, depression, anxiety 12.  Increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs 13.  Disease flares.
Hopefully, your self-evaluation turned out positive, and you are not experiencing any of the above difficulties.  However, if you are experiencing issues with stress the following might be helpful in managing your stress: 1. Make up your own stress diary to identify what causes you stress.  Include the following: the date, cause of stress, time or occurrence, physical symptoms, emotional symptoms    2.  Change what you can to reduce your stress by: a. Set goals-develop a plan for achieving goals, one that includes hobbies and friends and that delegates responsibilities -be flexible about the time your goal will take to achieve b. list priorities-what needs to be done immediately?   What can be done later?   What can be eliminated?  C.  Take time to do things you enjoy d.  Acknowledge major life events as stress sources-even positive events can be stressful e.  Learn to say no, and lose the guilt 3.  Think win/win when resolving conflicts; seek solutions that will benefit both sides 4.  Manage   or accept what you cannot change 5.  Think positively 6.  Develop new support systems 7.  Adapt a lifestyle that reduces stress.
These ideas were presented by the Institute for Natural Resources.  If you are having difficulty managing the stress in your life, see what you can do on your own.  If that does not work, consider other options, like a professional.
Looking out my window, the rain continues to pour.  Translated, this means that the trails are wet and sloppy (stress).  As a result, I am going to wear rain resistant clothing.  I know that running for me is one way that I reduce the “overall” stress in my life. I am going to put up with the wet and cold. Giving in is easy, but like the Nike commercial” just do it.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Way Too Cool 50K, Barbie Benton, Hugh Hefner

Way Too Cool Part Two:
Upon reaching the recycling center, the aid station, after completing 20- 21 miles, I was met by Debbie Brickel and Marty Cullenward.  Thank you Debbie for coming to the aid station and being there assisting.  Janet Pucci’s husband Ray thanked me for making sure that the water was turned on at the aid station.   I did not take much time at the aid station. Marty, Secretariat, and I then headed in the direction of Brown’s bar.  Pretty soon, Randall and Diane met us on the trail.  Randall made sure I was hydrating, had salt tablets, and had food for fuel.  Shortly afterwards, Carrie Barrett showed up on the trail and inquired about Sue.  I told her that Sue was behind me. Carrie indicated that she would continue on the trail and look for her.

We eventually reached, Goat Hill the next aid station.  This relatively steep switchback trail was correctly named especially if you are a goat.   Once there, we were met by Debbie Brickel.  As it turned out, the aid station captain Norm Klein was Debbie’s mother’s doctor.   Debbie did not get an opportunity to talk to Dr. Klein this year.  Norm’s wife, Helen was an outstanding ultra run setting numerous records. Also of note, their daughter Barbie Benton was, at one time, Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend.  

     After leaving Goat Hill, some 26 or 27 miles into the run, the serenade began.  Randall and Diane are performers who enjoy singing and playing. Their medley included songs from the Beatles, Beach Boys, Eagles and numerous others.
 It was a treat to have a diversion during that part of the run.  I was tired, and my heart rate was now in the low to mid 80 % aerobically and obviously I was running at a slower pace. I did not join in the singing, because I wanted to conserve energy.  But, I was listening to the words singing along in my head the best I could.  That part of the run was lots of fun.  I told Secretariat that I wanted him to take singing lessons in order to learn more songs so he could entertain me while we ran.
I got plenty of encouragement from Randall about my running pace.  I thanked him and told him he was a good mother.  Often during the run, I looked at my watch and calculated the number of many miles I had completed attempting to determine or predict my finishing time. At no time did I think about not completing this run as my energy level was good.  My Achilles was bothersome but I simply ran smart and did not attempt to aggravate it anymore. I ran as fast as necessary.  My goal was to complete the run without injury, and I did that.  My finishing time this year was about the same as last year and I was okay with that.  Running 31 miles was a good accomplishment. 
Upon reaching the finish, there was plenty of excitement with people milling around.  I got a slice of pizza and a Coke and was happy. I am always happy and smiling when I have completed these races.  I said hi to Veloyce the Monster of Massage.   I talked with my other friends and chatted about the run. After I picked up my third-place finish award, we left for the market to pick up ice cream for the dinner party that evening.
Linda prepared a main dish while Secretariat and Debbie, Randall, Diane, Carrie, Wendy, Chris and Mickey complemented the potluck.  We ate, drank and laughed.  All was good.  My recovery was good, especially after taking ibuprofen and icing. Secretariat was tired, as it was a long day for him also. Hooray, another great running experience completed. Thank you all for being there and sharing the experience with me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Way Too Cool 50km

Saturday the 10th was a great day for the Way Too Cool 50 km run. The weather was ideal as it was not too hot, nor too cold. It was just right. The trail was dry for this time of year and the footing was good. Before the start, there were many runners milling around in a circus like atmosphere. There were many tents and vendors. Excitement was in the air .The only thing that was missing were the elephants and tigers.
The first part of the run, about 8 miles long, meandered in and around the Knickerbocker-Olmsted loop. I covered that distance in one hour 38 minutes and was met by Secretariat. We then proceeded to the Western states trail and headed toward the intersection cut off used by the Tevis Cup riders while crossing Highway 49. I noticed many young attractive females running this race which was a good thing. A woman with a pony tail ran past us and mentioned that her psychologist told her that a pony tail elicits a prey response in men on the trail. Secretariat told her that I was a psychologist, and I replied “I do not need a ponytail.” We all laughed and continued running especially when I told her that she had a ponytail. She seemed surprised, and realized that she had her hair in a ponytail.
After crossing Highway 49, we ran the river trail, passing Brown’s bar and Maine bar in the process. I used a heart rate monitor to measure anaerobic and aerobic heart beat. The formula 220 – age was the criteria that I used. My heart rate ranged between 88% - 91 or 92% for much of the distance along that part of the trail. When I approached a hill, I made sure to pay attention to my heart rate. I did not want to burn myself out, early on during this run. During this section of the trail, my Achilles- heel was talking to me. Another reason to walk the hills was not to stretch and aggravate my Achilles more than I had to. All in all, despite my discomfort, my energy was good, and I was running well and steady.
I crossed American Canyon Creek and headed towards the Western States trail. My energy level remained good as I did not seem overly tired. Secretariat ran with me, and then got out in front. Periodically, I caught up to him as he was waiting for me. Just prior to the recycling center, I found him sitting at the “monument” resting comfortably. This monument was dedicated to runner Barbara Schooner who was attacked and eaten by a mountain lion years ago. Yea, there were no mountain lions today.
To be continued:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Way Too Cool 50 km,Tapering,Ride and Tie and Sleep Aids

Today is a rest day, called tapering for me.  Tomorrow, is the Way Too Cool 50 km run. I plan to drive to Cool and leave a few copies of my book with Julie Fingar the race director for awards. After, then proceed to the Auburn Running Company to pick up my race packet and Jonathan Jordan’s.  Jonathan is driving up from Southern California.  This is his fourth or fifth consecutive Way Too Cool race.  For your information, Jonathan was my race partner for the 100 mile Swanton Pacific ride and tie.
Other ride and tie competitors running tomorrow include: Jennifer Tiscornia, Susan Smythe, and Victoria Ordway, to name a few. Carrie Barrett and Secretariat are going to be Pacers.  Secretariat is planning on joining me for over two thirds of tomorrow’s run.  We plan to party afterwards.
This information was published by the Institute for Natural Resources about the major problem of sleeplessness in the United States.  The herb Valerian root, although has side effects, may reduce sleep latency and improve sleep quality.  Other considerations include: 1. Follow a regular meal schedule during the day-do not skip meals: consume three meals and two snacks during the day; consume smaller meals as the day progresses; do not go to bed hungry or full.
2.  Eat a light evening meal-this meal should be the smallest of the day; meal should be moderately low in fat, but have a good mix of protein and carbohydrate for satiety.
3. Consume a bedtime snack if needed-   one hour before bedtime, have a light snack, such as a piece of fruit, or warm beverage i.e. herbal tea.
4.  Avoid caffeine after 6 PM-drink herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee if hot beverage is desired after that time.
5.  Alcohol in moderation-alcohol may decrease sleep latency, but has negative effects in the second half of sleep.
6.  Maintain a normal body weight-obesity increases risk of sleep apnea; proper dietary practices, coupled with exercise, will reduce risk of overweight and obesity.
Consuming foods high in tryptophan-milk or turkey is a myth and does not help you fall asleep.  Although high-protein foods, which are good sources of tryptophan, do get converted into serotonin and melatonin, but are high in other amino acids that compete with tryptophan for passage across the blood brain barrier. The net result is there little evidence that consuming such foods has a soporific effect.  Sweet dreams.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Memory,Aging and Sleep Difficulties

How are you doing with your memory?  As we age, our memory does not seem to improve especially short-term memory.  For example, what you had for dinner last night might be difficult to remember, but some event that happened number of years ago might be remembered. However, recent research suggests that lifestyle also affects memory, according to an article found in the February 27, 2012, edition of Time.
This finding might surprise you?  Elderly individuals who consumed between 2143 to 6000 calories a day were twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment compared with those that ate fewer than 1526 calories per day.  How many calories are you consuming per day?  So aside from putting on weight, memory can also be affected by calories consumed.
Scientist found, in a study of people ages 45 to 80, that those who did not sleep well (waking up more than five times per hour) were more likely to exhibit deposits of amyloid proteins.  Amyloid proteins are related to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Some factors influencing sleep difficulties as we increase in age include:
 1. external-increased sensitivity to noise; decreased exposure to natural light; decreased activity; increased napping.
2. psychological-depression, anxiety, stress; bereavement
3. physiological- secondary to sleep- illness (CHD; diabetes; obesity) or pain; medications; Nocturia; menopausal night sweats.
4 .physiological-relating to sleep- advanced phase of sleep disorder; increased sleep latency; increased number of brief arousal’s; increased sleep apnea.
Also, a number of medications or drugs may decrease melatonin, and interfere with sleep.  A brief list includes but not limited to: alcohol, aspirin, Benadryl, BuSpar, caffeine, Cylert, diazepam, diltiazem, and ibuprofen, Interleukin-two, Marplan, nicotine, Prozac, Ritalin, tobacco, vitamin B12, Wellbutrin, Xanax, and Zoloft.
In essence, foods, beverages, and drugs may impair your sleep.  The following might assist in resolving sleep difficulties:
1. Melatonin may help resolve sleep difficulties .Melatonin or melatonin supplements assist in sleep by altering circadian rhythms. Melatonin is also affected by changes in body temperature, so taking a hot bath at night, may assist in falling asleep, because the hot water raises body temperature which causes the pineal gland to produce melatonin.
2. There are certain foods that contain melatonin, such as oats, sweet corn, rice, Japanese radish, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, and barley so consider these if they are not in your diet.
Additional tips for improving sleep include: comfortable mattress, pillow sheets and clothing; room temperature moderate; bedroom dark and; bedroom quiet; wear earplugs; white noise machine; unplug the telephone; remove clock from view.
Hopefully, you are not one of the 65% of people who reported in a national poll that they do not get enough sleep.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Measures of Stress, Aging and Listening to Your Body

In yesterday’s blog, the Internal Stress Index was presented.  The results are as follows:
18-26= A.O.K.
27-36=Look inside, something’s not right
37-54= Seek help for answers marked *

 On my  recent blogs, I presented an  External Stress Index and an Internal Stress Index  found in Drs. Klatz and Goldman’s “Stopping the Clock .” these two measures allow the reader to self evaluate  both internal and external issues.  It is clear that when there is too much distress, health problems follow.  And if there are too many issues going on, it is very difficult to lead a healthy and productive lifestyle.
As far as the external stress index, one can see significant life events and the values presented.  By no means are all external events presented.  Also, one might argue with the weighted values.  However, what is clear is that when negative things happen in our life distress affects the aging process.  Remember, distress refers to any situation whether it is physical, emotional or both, that requires any bodily response change from equilibrium or homeostasis.
   Today, my sister Beverly provides the example.  When talking about, one of her recent ski vacations, Beverly talked about being tense while skiing.  She indicated that when she did a difficult run, she tensed and her legs tired. Instead of going to the cause (tenseness), she treated the symptom tiredness.  She told me she now does inclines on the treadmill and that helps increase her leg strength.
 Beverly enjoys being outdoors, in the mountains and skiing, which is a good thing.  However, she is also putting herself in a negative stress situation as her legs speak to her by tiring.
  Pay attention to your activities and evaluate both the positive and the negative associated with them.  If the negative, in the activity, outweighs the positive, then a potential problem exists.  In other words, listen to your body as you perform your activities.  Your body and feelings reveal the truth.  One has to know how to listen to one’s body and label correctly the feeling.  Often our feelings are distorted by our thinking process.  That is where the defense mechanisms, like rationalization come in to play. 
Beverly received a lesson with a ski instructor.  The instructor took her on intermediate runs and said   “Follow me.”  Bev said,” I had fun, and the instructor even threw a snowball at me. “Her dilemma consists of “being competitive, and thinking she would is a wimp if she did not do the long difficult run vs. having fun and enjoying skiing.”  Hopefully, she will figure out what is best for her.  If not, she is likely to continue being unhappy, fearful of injury and might even wind up injured.
Matt Fitzgerald, in his book “Run, the Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel” said the following: “When I am running well, I am happy.  And when I am happy I run well.” Beverly, substitute the word” ski” for the word”run” and evaluate the result. Then decide what is best for you.