Archive for June, 2011


IN THE ZONE!

06.28.2011
In the Zone

New CD by Bill Head and the HeadBand

No, I’m not stuttering.  That is the title of a CD with creative ties to Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes and this blog.  Exactly how, you ask?  Well, Steve King, co-editor of Running in the Zone, is a member of the HeadBand and contributes on drums, vocals and what he calls narration.  He collaborated on writing of about half the original pieces, as the lyricist.  Bill Head (and now you see the cleverness factor in the name of the band) is the musical genius, sometimes not only writing the songs, but performing all instrumental parts.  Now that is something I would like to see, live on stage.  I guess he would really have to put his experience as a runner to good use!  Yes, Bill is also a seasoned athlete, too.

Before going on further, I should say that if you want to know a bit more about In the Zone and the HeadBand, just follow the embedded link, but don’t get lost over there at Steve’s site and forget to come back.  I’ve got more to say on the subject. 

Part of the inspiration for this project came as far back as when we were writing Running in the Zone (the book).  As I wrote the last line, I realized that after our first meeting at Steve’s place he took my down to see his new drum set.  He had returned from a band practice just before my arrival for our meeting.  Yep, the very same band!  At the end of the book’s Introduction, you will find a poem written by Steve, entitled “Running in the Zone”.  It is that poem that largely became the lyrics for the song of the same name on this new CD.  Want a preview of that, including a Video treatment?  Then follow the link to Youtube, where you can listen and watch.  Yet another runner, Dirk Handke,  provided the photo montage.  Dirk, who is an awesome photographer is often found prowling about the Interior Road Running races, many trail running events and just about anywhere out in the hills of the Okanagan.  Seems like Dirk  loves running and cycling and takes his camera wherever he goes.  See if you can spot Steve King among the photo snippets of all those people ‘running in the zone’!

What follows is a bit of an aside, but this all reminds me of how multi-faceted most ‘seasoned athletes’ actually are.  It also reminds me how often we become buddies with fellow runners, even running, training and racing with them, forming close bonds and yet not really knowing much about them otherwise.  How often do we go to some event and almost not recognize a fellow runner “with his clothes on”?  No, it isn’t what it sounds like (well unless you are into the Bare Buns kind of running and then maybe it could be just what it sounds like).  What it really means is, in regular street clothes rather than shorts or tights or tech shirts.  But, if we don’t know what our friends look like when not being runners, how often do we also lack a perspective of what they do in the non-running rest of their lives?

Here we have three different people in Bill, Steve and Dirk, all runners, but also musicians, photographers, writers and that doesn’t even begin to touch on their “day jobs”.  I could include myself in the list, because I encounter a lot of people through training clinics where I sometimes lead pace groups or organize the actual clinic, and I can tell you that most of those people only know me as the Leader or Clinic Coordinator.  I am actually having some fun these days as some of my running friends see me performing in a TV commercial, and almost all saying, “Did I see you in a commercial for big screen TV’s?”.  Yep, it was me.  And, that isn’t my day job, either!

Steve King, Race Announcer

Steve King at Scotiabank Half Marathon June 2011

Steve is probably best known as a race announcer and sport commentator these days (although he can claim some pretty fine running accomplishments as well), but none of that is related to his day job.

The last running clinic I took part in, I found out there was a student (or two), an accountant, a ‘head hunter’, a Crown prosecutor and a retired architect to mention only a few.  If you want some fun, the next time you are with a running group where you aren’t all close personal friends, see if you can find out what at least a couple of them do when they aren’t “Running in the Zone”.

And, while you are “Running in the Zone” you may just want to add that inspirational tune to your play-list.  It should keep you bouncing!  So, if you haven’t already, why not head on over to Steve’s site and look into this CD “IN THE ZONE”?

100 YEARS YOUNG THE NATURAL WAY

06.14.2011
COVER

ONE HUNDRED YEARS YOUNG THE NATURAL WAY

Many of the contributors to Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, are writers with their own publications.  One of those is Earl Fee, author of The Complete Guide to Running – How to be a Champion from 9 to 90 (© 2005, 2007 2nd Edition Meyer and Meyer Sports) and now author of the newly minted 100  Years Young The Natural Way (Trafford Publishing).

What does it take?  Earl Fee may not have ALL the answers, because really –who does?  However, he does have a lot of ideas, insights and opinions, and at 82 years of age, holds multiple age class World Records in track and field events.   So, who can argue?!?

Earl’s contribution to Running in the Zone was entitled Aging Slower Than Your Competitors.  It amounts to just a taste of what you will find in his new book.  However, it is important to note that 100 Years Young is not specifically a book for runners or athletes.  Nothing stops such folk from finding useful information between its covers, and some parts of the book are primarily of interest to athletes.  However, the information shared will be of much more general interest to people wishing to live a long, productive and happy life. Some (me) would suggest that some form of vigorous physical activity is necessarily a part of such a life and that message certainly tends to come through in this book. 

Earl tends to run the shorter, sharper distances but if the marathon is mostly a state of mind, well then the effort he has put into 100 Hundred Years Young must surely qualify as being of marathon character.  Not counting index, table of contents, etc., this book comes in at mighty 634 pages.  It seems that Earl wanted to cover his topic from stem to stern and not ask the reader to go chasing down other published work to get the details.  But, not to worry, you may not have to read every word of 100 Hundred Years Young, which is not to say you won’t want to do so.  Chapter 1 is really the condensed version of what follows, as each subsequent chapter expands on specific topics.  And, even in those more detailed chapters, Earl generally gives you the condensed version of the message supported by detail you may or may not require, depending on your perspective and how you feel about such things.  But, the material is there if you want it.

Much of the secret of such healthy longevity is common sense, yet it is always amazing how often it only registers when some authority with the credentials to speak, puts it out there for us to see.  There may be a tendency, based on Earl’s age and perspective, to think of this book as targeting older people.  That is not really the case because the point is made repeatedly that the lessons on offer are meant to shape a life-time of habit.  Almost everything proposed will help a person live longer and better, but if you only start when you are already 80, the impact may be minimal in the greater scheme of things.  That said, there are many studies that now show how octogenarians in seniors’ facilities, benefit from exercise, strength training and dietary considerations.   But, if you are wishing to add twenty years or so to your life, you may want to start a bit sooner!

Earl has divided the book into logical sections on the Body, Mind and Spirit.  The chapters further sub-divide the major topics in nutrition, physical training, prevention (illness and injury), spirituality and sex, just to name a few.  Sex?  Yes, Earl is quite candid about sex, including its place in a healthy senior life-style.

Perhaps not every chapter will demand the same depth of consideration by every reader, and while the author has done a great deal to keep topics self-contained, there are plenty of references which some may use to dig even deeper into a particular issue.  Some offerings may invite debate or controversy, but there is nothing wrong with that, especially when it causes the reader to really think about the subject.  You may not agree with the thesis, but you will be forced to consider the points raised.

Want to know about healthy habits, nutrition, exercise, spirituality – even tantric sex?  Earl has something to say.  His fundamental thesis, as interpreted by this reviewer, is that it is far more what we do (how we live) than who we are (genetics) that will determine how long we actually live.  There is some evidence of the truth of this in the way whole populations thrive and extend life enormously when given a good diet and good (basic) medicine – even our own western societies.  Just check life expectancy changes in the last 100 years.  This point is further proven when we look at the impact of bad habits and how they so effectively undo much of noted the progress.

Earl and his trophies

Earl, The Book, His Trophies

Earl does not deny the impact of good genetics (he makes full disclosure that his mother and a couple of her sisters lived past the age of 94), but even if you believe yourself pre-programmed to a certain life-span, you have the capacity through life-style decisions and practices to short-change or optimize that potential.  The whole thrust of 100 Years Young is optimization (and maybe just a little bit more)!

So there you have it!  Can you actually adjust your habits and life-style to live to be 100?  Don’t know.  Can you improve your chances of approaching 100, or of improving your quality of life?  I think so.  Earl Fee and 100 Years Young the Natural Way will be a help in achieving your greatest potential for a long and happy life.

To purchase, 100 Years Young the Natural Way simply click the link to Trafford Publishing via the embedded link here or in the first paragraph, or go to Amazon and search the title or author.  For an autographed copy, contact Earl directly via e-mail at feetness@rogers.com (cost is $33 including tax, shipping extra).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not necessarily because of  100 Years Young, but stimulated by the references to a good many studies of varying sorts, I feel compelled to offer some personal comment.  As someone trained in research and the interpretation of research, I feel it important to comment on the nature of epidemiological studies.  That is a pretty fancy word, but it boils down to the study of available observations.  There is nothing wrong with properly done studies of this nature (of which I am pretty sure Earl Fee is well aware), but the interpretation of such studies is fraught with danger and the average reader just wants to get to the proverbial “bottom line”. 

In some instances, epidemiological studies are the only kinds of studies that can be performed ethically.  For example, you can’t just feed people poison so you can find out a) when they get sick and b) when they die.  Sometimes, you can study what happens when people do consume our mythical poison by working back from observed facts – such as what happens if you smoke.  The problem that requires full vigilance is that in some instances there will be a very high statistical correlation between Fact A and Fact B, but absolutely NO cause and effect.  Good studies consider this, but a huge amount of such material out there has not been tested in so rigorous a manner, particularly that published in more popular magazines and journals.  All smokers die, so there is a perfect correlation between smoking and death!  BUT, every non-smoker dies, so there is a perfect correlation between not smoking and death.  Smoking does not cause death.  Death is natural.  Death happens.  Death is part of living.  Where the rubber hits the road in a cause and effect sort of way, is in regard to how long smokers (generally) live or what we call longevity, and maybe of which maladies they tend to die.  As an exmple of how some of this works; in my Dad’s family of 6 kids, all smoked like chimneys, four died of lung cancer, one of completely unrelated issues, and one lived to the ripe old age of 94.  Interestingly, there were three boys and three girls and two of each lost their lives to lung cancer. But, I repeat, they all smoked heavily.  The lung cancer victims all died relatively young – age of 60-70 for the most part.  And, just to take this one step further, there are some “old” genes in my family.  I have many relatives that lived into their 90’s and a few who actually did what Earl is proposing – lived to over 100 years of age.  So, it is probable if not provable, that those lung cancer victims actually short-changed themselves on their genetic potential.  Of course, this is totally anecdotal, which leads to another caution I would offer regarding certain types medical reports.

In many instances, medical reports/studies are of very small sample groups.  Often, these are based on observations of a doctor or team of doctors within a practise and are valid to publish in a learned journal meant for other practitioners who may or may not have observed similar maladies or treatments/cures.  Others in the field can sometimes use such reports to consider their own observations and build a collective information base of real importance.  Viagra is basically the offshoot of a cardio-vascular medication, which was observed to have another rather interesting effect!

The problem with these limited and more or less anecdotal reports comes when our popular media find some of these perfectly legitimate technical reports and then popularize the findings as if they had meaning far beyond the context in which they were actually reported.

I have gone on a bit about this because such information is all around us.  Earl has been pretty careful, I feel, but it is always important for the reader to consider the nature and source of the information.  Earl, unlike many writers, has taken real pains to reference his sources, so that a reader could dig deeper should she or he wish to do so.