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Benefits From Just 10 Minutes Of Exercise

Here’s an article for really busy people that promises a benefit for just one minute of all out exercise…in three bursts of 20 seconds each. Including warm up, cool down and slower in-between-the-extreme segments, it’s a total of just 10 minutes. And it needs to be done three times a week: 30 minutes total.

The comments are pretty funny…with one saying people who don’t like to exercise should learn to enjoy it…and many saying that you should take your health more seriously than just giving it 10 minutes…especially when so many folks are spending hours sitting on their couch watching “junk TV.”

Anyway, here are a few words to give you a better sense of the recommendations from this research:

“Then they asked the volunteers to complete a truly time-efficient, interval-training program using computerized stationary bicycles. Each session consisted of three 20-second “all-out” intervals, during which riders pushed the pedals absolutely as hard as they could manage, followed by two minutes of slow, easy pedaling. The riders also warmed up for two minutes and cooled down for three, for a grand total of 10 minutes of total exercise time, with one minute of that being the intense interval training.

“The volunteers completed three of these sessions per week, leading to 30 minutes of weekly exercise, for six weeks.”

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Back At Last

It’s been over a month since I last posted. I “broke the chain” of continuous writing–beginning with a trip to Japan to visit my son–and another three weeks passed as I made futile efforts to “catch up.” But here I am again.

In the interim, I completed three years of daily exercise…at least five minutes, but as much as 20. And that doesn’t count all the tennis I am playing. This week alone I am scheduled to play four straight days…and this following a day in which I played squash for an hour as well.

But I admit that I feel like I am losing muscle tone anyway, especially in my arms and upper body. A sign of aging, or doing abs exercises, or the rowing machine for my legs.

I also have aches in my joints, and I worry that I may have picked up Lyme disease from a tick I removed a couple of days before I left for the Orient. So much to deal with sometimes.

I have had lots of good stories to write about…just too lazy or distracted or jet lagged for a while. Let’s see if I can now amuse you with stimulating tales in the days ahead…

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Running The New York City Marathon At Age 60

Here is a really funny article by JERÉ LONGMAN that was in the New York Times with some photos and a video:

Wilson Kipsang of Kenya won the New York City Marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes 59 seconds — or as I like to call it at my age, a good night’s sleep.

At 60, I also ran Sunday’s race, one of about 3,000 windblown geezers among the field, expected to be 50,000.

“You need a pacemaker?” German Silva asked the other day.

“Hopefully not installed,” I said.

In 1995, before German’s second consecutive victory in New York, I joined him at 13,000 feet to train on the side of a volcano in his native Mexico. By “joined,” I mean that he ran up the volcano while I rode in a car with his coach.

A few weeks later, German finished first in New York, and, well, I finished. Actually, it was the only time I broke four hours. But that was nearly 20 years ago. Whatever speed I possessed receded with my hairline.

In April, I ran my first Boston Marathon: 5 hours 20 minutes. That is less a time for a race than a time for a crockpot recipe.

Not that 60 is a regretful age. Not at all. I’m much healthier at 60 than I was at 20. Back then I was on my way to 240 pounds. When I backed up, I beeped.

You know it is time to lose weight when you go horseback riding and the stablehand says, “Wait a minute; you’ll have to ride Big Boy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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How To Rule The World According To Amy Poehler

Comedienne Amy Poehler says this in her new book, Yes Please.

Spontaneous dance parties are important in my life. I have one in the makeup trailer almost every afternoon on “Parks and Recreation.” Dancing is the great equalizer. It gets people out of their heads and into their bodies. I think if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.

Dancing can be so much fun, and there have been times when I just put on some music and moved spontaneously. It feels so good.

I went to a charity, gala, black-tie-optional fundraiser the other day, and the group I had been invited to join danced for two hours solid. Some were in their mid-20′s and others were gray-hairs in their 80′s. Thrilling to see and be part of the constant movement to the lively music of a 10-piece band. I was exhausted, but I kept going and kept up.

Did you ever see that scene in the movie, Love Actually, when Hugh Grant as British Prime Minister, starts dancing unexpectedly and forgets how proper he is supposed to be? Hilarious…we should all do it much more often…

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Walking The Scottish Moors

the pink heather can be a foot high and springy when you walk on it

the pink heather can be a foot high and springy when you walk on it

It’s really hard to walk on the moors, and I want to show you why. I was actually nervous that I would be able to do it safely and ably. Last time I was in Scotland hunting, the gamekeeper told me about a party of five gents who were falling so often that he stopped the hunt within 30 minutes and insisted it was too dangerous for them to be falling down with loaded guns.

easiest fields to cross

easiest fields to cross

tall grasses concealing rough ground

tall grasses concealing rough ground

My anxiety was provoked by my experience in 2011, the first time I’d done it. As you can imagine from one of these photos, walking on grassy pastures is easy. But mostly you are in tall grasses or on top of heather, which is really a springy bush, much like a Christmas tree on its side. Underneath and out of sight are large rocks that can twist your ankle or streams that you can’t see or hear. I stepped in one of those the first hour almost up to my knee…soaked my boot and sock. Messy. Uncomfortable. Cold. Also you are walking sideways on hills, so you are on uneven terrain, with one foot higher or lower than the other.

When a bird flushes, you only have fractions of a second to stabilize your feet, shift your weight to the front foot, find the bird, raise your gun as you release the safety, aim, swing and shoot. Hard…unless you practice a lot, which guys like me don’t have time to do.

As I wrote yesterday, I was wondering why I do this, when it is so difficult. But that is what a challenge is all about, right? And the game tastes so good. And the dogs are so exciting to watch search for, and find, the pheasants.

Once again I made it safely through the days. I didn’t injure myself or anyone else. I was just unbelievably tired from such a push. Nevertheless, I suspect I will be back another year. The countryside and adventure is just too spectacular…

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Shooting In Scotland

tired hunter with Becky and Max

tired hunter with Becky and Max

Spent a couple of weeks in Scotland, including two days hunting for birds. I was way out of practice, so I went to a skeet range three times and a sporting clays course once before I left. I built up to 16 clay pigeons out of 25 on the skeet range. My best ever may be just 21, but 18-19 was not uncommon. The clays course was interesting, because sometimes I was hitting every “bird,” and other times I missed all 10 tries at the same station. I only ran up parts of a big hill at a home twice for physical conditioning. Then I arrived on the Scottish ground.

The description below is based on an email I sent to a few friends:

Was out on the moors for over three hours struggling to keep my balance, not fall into rivulets hidden by the tall grass and be alert for birds that the dogs would flush unexpectedly. I know you wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I subject myself to such physical hardship?

Truth is, I was thinking that myself after just one hour, thirsty and hot and forgot to bring water, and legs aching terribly. It is exhausting. Always determined not to shoot the guide in the head or kill his dogs accidentally. And I was so out of practice–too much tennis and almost no shooting in three years–that it took five shots to hit a bird. The shotgun holds just two shells, but often I miss with both barrels, so one in five was my average. More respectable is one out of three. I missed so many “easy” shots. Very disappointing and frustrating, even though I did hit some birds. Shot my first-ever duck and ate it. Delicious. Pheasant dinner another night.



In the end I am thrilled to do it, have done it, to walk the moors, feel the open spaces, hear and see the cock pheasants flying away safely, watch the dogs. Scotland is one of the few places you can do this, I believe. The northeast United States is all stocked with birds raised in pens and placed on the ground the night before the hunt. The Midwest and Dakotas have flat land and far fewer birds: two or three a day may be all you can find, I’ve been told. Where I was in Scotland, there are thousands that are put out for six months before the season…and some live on for a year or two in the wild, learning how to evade predators, be wary and quick. Very challenging. I do love it.

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How To Pick Up Girls At The Gym

There are a lot of videos giving advice about how to pick up girls–and guys–at the gym. Very useful. Check out the first minute of this video to also learn something about the Strongman competition from champion Robert Oberst. He eats six times a day to ingest 20,000 calories. He needs the fuel to lift the weight. He also travels through the supermarket emptying out parts of the meat section.

He admits others have the abs…but he has the titles.

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Dog With Abs

A dog's best friends

A dog’s best friends

Are you looking at the dog or the abs???

Rincon, a stray dog from Puerto Rico, was rescued by model Julian Schratter when he was visiting the island. Schratter brought the animal home to Brooklyn, New York, where he and his roommates, also models, decided to have a little fun with their new furry friend.

They created an Instagram account for Rincon under the handle, rincon_da_bully. The page, which features shots of the handsome pup along with his hunky friends, quickly gained popularity, and after just four months, boasts almost 19,000 followers.

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Unicycling In Caves

Once again I am awed by what people do to have fun. These guys go underground with head lights and their unicycles to make the adventure more difficult. Here are some sound bites:

There IS a level of challenge and risk. If you fall down and break your leg, there’s no way out. It’s an adrenaline rush…the achievements are that much more special, monumental…It’s very rhythmic, meditative…a way to express myself…easier than walking…

And when he is old, one cyclist wants to attach a self-balancing unicycle to himself and be a cyborg who can still ride…

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Stephen Colbert’s Real Man Workout

This is pure silliness in the midst of an ongoing feud between Sean Hannity and Stephen Colbert. Sean has lost 30 pounds and explains how he did it with a program of street martial arts, including “blade and firearms training.” Stephen makes tremendous fun of it, including an image showing how using your trigger finger can give you a six pack! Go right to 1:49 to see the mockery begin.

six pack from trigger finger workouts

six pack from trigger finger workouts

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Having Fun By Risking Your Life

Cameron Airshow 2014 from Aero Media Group on Vimeo.

I am such a wuss! So conservative. Playing it safe, when I head for the tennis court.

But there is another breed of human who relaxes(?) by doing daredevil stunts. Hopefully these athletes are professionals who are earning big dollars for risking their lives to entertain a few thousand thrill seekers.

In addition to one biplane flying so low and at such a slant that a motorcyclist can touch the wing, there is Skip Stewart who is the first pilot to fly an airplane UNDER a jumping motorcycle!

I dunno…can’t relate…can you?

If you want more details about the uniqueness of some of the stunts, check out the Cameron Airshow’s website.

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Bike Trip Robbery Video

My daughter once went on a bike trip in England, and I have been to Buenos Aires a couple of times. But this innocent bike-trip vacationer had an experience no one in my family had: he was (almost?) robbed and recorded it all on his helmet GoPro. This may not be an athletic achievement, but it is certainly a rare video of an athletic incident.

Here is the Daily Beast story:

If you travel a fair bit, you’ve probably been there. You’re cycling through an exotic locale, laughing and talking with friends when suddenly a guy on a motorbike cuts you off and starts yelling at you in the native tongue. You can’t understand him but you’re sure he’s not inviting you over for dinner.

It was a bit of a special case here for Canadian tourist Alexander Hennessey. Riding through Buenos Aires, Argentina with some travel companions, he was cut off by a local who quickly pulled a revolver out of his jeans.

Luckily for us, Mr. Hennessey had been attempting to document his bike trip with a helmet-fastened GoPro camera. The first-person perspective is chilling.

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Mind-Jarringly Memorable Unimaginable Creativity In Metal

This is a spectacular Honda commercial that involves motorcycles and cars. It is breathtakingly creative, imaginative and memorable. It has only received about 9-15,000 views, so it is little known…unless millions saw it on TV. Great things come in little packages.

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Victory In A Tennis Tournament

The B Champs with their salad bowl trophies

The B Champs with their salad bowl trophies

I admit it: Winning really feels good. On Labor Day, I was part of a doubles team that won the B Division at the tennis club I joined three years ago. How sweet it is. I really wanted it…and not for the 15-inch diameter glass engraved bowl that I can use for salad and fruit.

Two years ago my team made it to the finals, but lost. This year we played that same team in the semi-finals–although I had a different partner, Jim Wu–and we won 6-2, 6-2. I began the match believing we could win. And best of all, I was doing my best without worrying if the other team would feel badly if they lost. As my tennis therapist told me, if they can’t handle losing, it’s their problem, not yours. I still don’t have a killer instinct and can still learn to play more aggressively. But I no longer feel so much sympathy for the other side that I subconsciously create my own errors and poor shots.

The most demandinging match was in the quarter finals, where we won 7-5 and in a tiebreaker 7-5. I served at the end of both sets, and I was ecstatic that I never choked. There were around 20 people watching and cheering me on. What a difference it made to hear people applauding and encouraging me after an especially good point. One experienced friend said I was playing the best game of my life…certainly that he’d ever seen me play. He may have been right. I was in the zone, anticipating better than ever and returning many balls that seemed ungettable. Now I understand a tiny bit of what the pros like Monfils and Djokovic feel, when they motion to the thousands in the stands to clap and shout louder after a winner or a victory. It feels terrific.

But I was a bit sad to learn after that close match that one of my opponents lost on his birthday. Both guys looked very disappointed, and I was glad that my sympathy didn’t kick in until AFTER the win.

For the finals I was really concerned about one of the opposing guys…a lefty with a powerful serve and a very strong net game. He volleys incredibly frustrating drop shots too. But he was a bit off in the exhausting, low-80s heat…and we won that one 6-2, 6-3 in front of an appreciative crowd that was often focused on the A Division finals two courts over. But some watched my game and applauded our victory. Many people were happy for me when I saw them afterwards. Very satisfying…even thrilling. I definitely wanted to win this final after losing it the last time.

Who knows? Maybe some year I will enter the A Division and see if I can win a match or two. Some of those guys are like semi-pros, were on college teams and are super fast. Many are under 50 and have astonishing capabilities after years of practice.

For now I am totally pleased. I have a year to relish my success and prepare to defend my title next time against all newcomers, wannabees and guys seeking revenge. The joy of sport…the challenge of athletics. My quest to keep improving. Pretty lucky to have this passion so late in life and be able to do it…I am savoring every minute…

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Too Much Discipline Cracks Up Palace Guard On Sentry Duty

One must admire the discipline required to be a soldier marching or standing at attention in front of places like The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or Buckingham Palace. It’s amazing how a human can be so rigid, not smile as tourists taunt them, ignore the rain and snow and cold and heat, make their body perform repetitively and control their brains to not flip out. I don’t grasp it. Truthfully I would crack up within minutes. But obviously there are proud soldiers who volunteer for these honored posts.

Recently however, it appears that one guard who made the cut did have a modified breakdown on duty in England. Check out his antics worthy of a John Cleese comedy. Here are excerpts from an article that gives more details.

A source said that while the video may be entertaining, the incident is being taken ‘extremely seriously’ by army top brass. “It’s very serious,” the source said. “Those guards are there to guard the palace, not entertain tourists. I don’t want to downplay the gravitas of the situation.”

The three-minute video clip shows the soldier, wearing his his red tunic and bearskin, perform a series of stunts for onlooking tourists

The guard is first seen marching up and down the gravel forecourt, before breaking into pirouettes.

He can then seen picking up something from the floor and putting it in his pocket.

The soldier launches into a comical strut and pretends to polish his guard box with his knuckles.

Tourists can be heard laughing in the background, with one child saying: “Look at him spinning. That’s really silly. Do you think he will get told off for it by the policeman?”

His comical antics come to an end once the guard retreats to his box after giving his fellow guardsman a thumbs-up.

Orders for the duty which are read out before each two-hour shift and state: “You may not eat, sleep, smoke, stand easy, sit or lie down during your tour of duty.”

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How I Was Kidnapped For Ransom Money Because Of My One-Handed Tennis Backhand

Stan and his backhand

Stan and his backhand

I experienced a very discombobulating adventure the other day during my second visit ever to the US Open tennis tournament. I went with some tennis buddies who have gone annually for decades and knew their way around.

Prior to going, I had viewed an interactive graphic about the one-handed backhand (OHB) tennis swing that is a dying stroke. It’s what I do, although almost no one learns it anymore…the two-hander is easier to master. But world number 4, Stan Wawrinka, won the Aussie Open last year with one of the most beautiful OHB in the game. So imagine how excited I was to read that Stan was playing in Arthur Ashe stadium, and I could watch him live from my seat.

Surprise! There are maybe 18 courts at the Billie Jean Tennis Center with so much simultaneous action you are frustrated often about who to watch next. And you are right up close to the players in these outer courts and smaller stadiums, rather than practically touching clouds in the uppermost cheaper seats we had at Arthur Ashe. So my group watched Andy Murray, Jo Willie Tsonga, Juan Monaco, Angelique Kerber and many other top-ranked players everywhere except Arthur Ashe. I loved it.

But around 4:00, I left my fellow enthusiasts, said that I had to see Stan the Man and mentioned that my cell phone was running out of battery. No problem, just meet us at Parking lot “F” at 6:00. Easy.

Off I went to admire Stan’s graceful OHB and try to learn how I might do what he does. It’s so elegant and powerful. You never see it on TV the way you can live. A real highlight of the day. At 5:30 I headed alone to the parking lot, following a map and guidance from a policeman and many US Open staff members. Still no problem…until I didn’t remember all the grass and trees when I was walking that morning from Lot “F” to the tennis courts. Nor did I recognize the lot when I was taken there by the shuttle bus. It was totally under the highway, rather than open to the sky as I remembered. Sim the driver drove me all around it. But nothing looked familiar.

Was I in a dream? Had I lost my mind? Intense disorientation. With my phone dead by now, I asked the bus driver if he would call my buddy on his mobile. Sure, but Sim only reached voice mail. A second call to a different friend resulted in the driver being told that he had the wrong number. Very strange, because Sim said he dialed the number I gave him. When I dialed the second number, I reached my friend and told him I was “lost.” I’d gone to the lot, been looking for almost half an hour, but still couldn’t find him. Where was he?

Only when I handed the phone back to Sim did he realize that my friends were parked in a DIFFERENT Lot “F”!!! There are two of them, and my buddies never realized that during 25 years of attending the Open: I was directed to the lot that caters to the tennis center. They always parked in another lot nearby that serves Citi-Field, the home of the New York Mets baseball team. As Clint Eastwood’s character responded in one of his films, “What a clusterfuck!”

When I finally headed back to the US Open exit/entrance and walked a bit to the left out the gate instead of a partial right, I found my mates, and heard their version of what happened. My first friend Phil hadn’t recognized Sim’s phone number, so he didn’t take the call. My second friend Y heard the strange message and ethnic accent, so he thought it was a wrong number. Then the first said he heard the message and became very concerned and nervous. Here is what he heard: “Hello Phil, this is Sim, and I have Ira here in the car. We are driving around, and he wants to talk to you.” Phil thought I had been kidnapped, and when he spoke to Y, they were both disturbed by this total stranger with a foreign accent using their names and stating that “Ira” was in his car. My buddies were sure Sim was going to ask for a ransom!

When I asked them how much they thought the ransom would be, I imagined they’d say $5-10,000. But no such luck, they figured my life was only worth $200. That gave us another laugh. Phil said with a dying phone, I should have stuck to the group “like Velcro.” Friend Y never realized that I would go to the wrong Lot “F,” because he didn’t know it existed. So he never mentioned Citi-Field.

And that is how my desire to improve my OHB caused my friends to decide that I was kidnapped for a ransom.

An unexpected conclusion to a great day of tennis. And an hour later Sim called to make sure I’d found my friends. Unforgettably nice guy. I hope he never finds this story and learns how misunderstood he was and how confused some Connecticut tennis players can be, when they make it to Queens in New York…

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Daredevil Speeds Over 200 And Steers With His Feet

VD with one of his superfast motorcycles

VD with one of his superfast motorcycles

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 3.07.43 PM

Here are two unedited emails: first from me to a friend whom I have known for maybe 15 years; second is his response. Do notice that in one of the photos, VD is steering with his feet!!!

saw a guy on a motorcycle doing 75 yesterday and wondered what your usual speed is? and what is the fastest you ever went?

did I see pictures recently of you on a bike that I thought you crashed/totaled? did you replace it with a similar one?

fun speed for this daredevil

fun speed for this daredevil

Hi Ira. I love getting these randomly staggered emails from you! Not to be too tumultuous with my experience, but I am very good at being dangerous! I usually average 110-140 mph to get just to work. When having fun, I will push my bike to 170 and still have room to play. I had recently opened a suzuki Hayabusa (look that bike up) and was able to reach an even further top speed of what it is intended to reach because of the intense modifications it had such as but not limited too, turbos, nitrous, extended swim arm, fat tire, dyno jet quick shifter and a bored motor. I reached a top speed and could no longer accelerate at 218 mph. It was the single most mesmerizing experience next to love and being born that I will ever have.

feet steering

feet steering

And yes, I was in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another woman cutting me off. Her insurance company is taking over and paying for everything, even my physical therapy. I decided to no longer ride on the streets of LA. Mainly because I am too dangerous to myself. I am a passive rider but aggressive with my speed.

I had a brand new Ducati 848 evo. That was the bike in the accident. Beautiful bike in all white with mainly carbon fiber body parts!
I hope that this was a reasonably fulfilling response ;)

Miss you guys!


VD on another fast bike

VD on another fast bike

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Experienced Rock Climber Proposes To Girl Friend And Then Falls Hours Later

Why can’t I grasp how some people think? Maybe I have to be a rock climber, stuntman or other daredevil. The idea of asking someone to marry me and being accepted and then going off alone to risk my life seems incomprehensible. Can someone explain some part of this to me?

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a veteran rock climber died in a fall while climbing alone in Yosemite National Park — just hours after proposing to his girlfriend during an earlier climb.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat says Brad Parker’s girlfriend, Jainee Dial, had accepted his marriage proposal after the pair completed a climb of Cathedral Peak Saturday. Parker’s father Bill says his son told him it was the happiest day of his life.

Later in the day, Brad Parker headed off by himself to climb nearby Matthes Crest.

Park Ranger Kari Cobb says the Sebastopol resident was climbing without ropes on an established route when he fell. The fall was witnessed by other climbers.

Parker appeared on the cover of California Climber magazine in 2012. He worked as a yoga instructor.

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40 And Mom Of Two Jo Pavey Finally Wins International Gold Medal

Here is a thrilling race and achievement by a mother of two who never quit, kept on trying and reached her dream goal after tireless effort. Not everyone is so fortunate, but her victory is quite inspiring.

Jo Pavey is 40 years old. She’s been running professionally for almost half her life, but she’s never won an international gold medal. That is, until now.

On August 12, 2014, Pavey, who’s from the U.K., won the 10,000m race at the European Athletics Championships, becoming the oldest woman ever to clinch a gold medal at the competition. But not only did Pavey win, the tenacious mom of two did it with a thrilling performance. As she started her final lap, she whizzed past France’s Clemence Calvin, who the BBC notes is 16 years Pavey’s junior.

“I’ve been trying for years to win this and never managed it. It seems funny to do it at the age of 40 now I’m a mother with two young children,” Pavey said after her win, per The Guardian. “I’m so happy in my personal life. I train really hard but don’t get stressed about it.”

She also told the news outlet that her victorious performance at the European Championships, as well as her bronze-medal winning 5,000m run at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, has invigorated her.

“I wasn’t thinking of retiring but the last couple of weeks have given me hope that I will continue to [the 2016 Rio Olympics] and a couple of years after that,” said Pavey, a four-time Olympian. “I’m definitely still enjoying it and I feel renewed and motivated.”

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1000 Consecutive Days!!

Last night at midnight, after playing tennis for two hours until 8:15 pm, eating, driving home and digesting my meal, I did 12 1/2 minutes of abs crunches. It was the 1000th day in a row that I have done some muscle-building exercise for 5-20 minutes. Tennis and squash don’t qualify. I have proven to myself and others that I CAN be disciplined enough to make myself do this. No matter if I was in a tent in Mongolia or on vacation in Europe or Japan.

I am extremely proud of the self-confidence I have acquired in the process. Yes some friends, like one who was a dancer and stretches or moves an hour a day quite often, are not impressed. But this was a supreme challenge to me for decades, because months would go by in the old days in which I did absolutely nothing.

No more. It is a regular and essential part of my life. I fantasized about stopping now that I have reached this incredible marker. But I decided that would be dumb, having made it this far. Now to think about what may be next. A tougher challenge?

Whatever takes discipline, I now know that I have quite a bit…

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Bad News For Wingsuiter

Here is an unexpected accident that resulted from a daredevil wingsuiter flyby…

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Joe Marshall Describes How To Win In Tennis

Joe Marshall posted this comment to my “Mentality” article yesterday (below). Joe was a great mentor/coach for me and wrote about 15 articles on this site about how to play tennis much much better. His strategies have helped me and many others improve their game dramatically. You can find them by searching with the keywords Joe Marshall.

Great story….Remarkable in its coincidence. Yesterday, I played a doubles match with a couple of thirty somethings on the other team, and my partner and I (ages 64 and 59) on our side…..they got off to a 3-0, 15-40 lead. My partner was solid, I was very inconsistent. Our opponents run twice as fast as us, one hits twice as hard, the other hits with twice the spin….I usually serve the best of the bunch, but yesterday, we all served about the same….serviceable…We stole that game and won the next. on serve! But they broke me for the second time to go up, 4-2. But we fought back, and won the next 4 games, fighting off break points and game points in each one….6-4 us.

In the second set, we got up 2-0 15-30, but they held, then they broke and held again. We tied it up at 3-3. They got up 5-3, but we won three games in a row, and I served for the match….they broke me for about the 5th time….I have been holding serve very well lately, but I lost all confidence, and my partner wasn’t helping me by stealing a poach here or there, or even moving to distract them or anything….in the tiebreak, we got up 3-1, but then they reeled foo 5 out of 6 points to go up 6-4. One had an easy volley at the net and tried to dropshot it…he JUST missed it, but I was running in, and would have had it if it wasn’t a very good dropper, so I think I put some pressure on him…..Then I hit two service winners, probably the only two I got all day….neither a terrific shot, but both solid first serves. When my partner served with our match point later, I poached and they hit the return in the net.

The key was experience, playing the pressure points well, but mostly strategy. The only thing I had working for me wsa my mind and my reflexes…I made several fine reflex shots to extend rallies, and some great gets….My partner was solid as a rock….They kept playing one up, and one back, with the server occasionally sneaking in. They also made some terrific poaches. My partner and I realized the only way we were going to get ahead was to lob everything, especially the return of serve. We had long rallies of our team lobbing, and their deep man running around hitting (and occasionally missing) groundies, while their net man looking for overheads, that he would occasionally hit, and about half the time, miss (or we would block it back.

In the second set, my partner lost his lob, he started hitting them all short…..I reminded him to get his weight into the shot, like any other shot, and follow through HIGH. Correcting things when they go wrong is one of the great gifts of experience.

They changed strategies in the second set when they had their run…..their deep man started hitting big high topspin shots, backing us up, and making it difficult to lob the net man (the best way to get a lob over the deep man’s head is to move up and take it early)…..Unfortunately for them, they didn’t stick with this strategy, and inexplicably, their server started to come in fast behind creampuff serves, making my return of serve lobs over the net man twice as effective….On big points, experience teaches you to follow certain mantras…..”Keep your weight going forward on return of serves”…anticipate on a certain side, On a serve, keep the toss high, let it bounce if it isn’t good, make sure you clear the net, exhale, put plenty of spin on the second serve…..and above all BE CONSISTENT, but forgive your self immediately if you miss one…Stay in the moment, the past means nothing, the future isn’t written….you might lose, you might win, but keep fighting….Now’s not the time to think about results…now is the time to hit the BALL!

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Two Drastically Different Mentalities

I recently played squash in fear and tennis with hope. The different results are stupefying, and you might guess that I lost the squash game and won the tennis contest. You are partly right. However the details are worth describing. Especially if there is a lesson here for life beyond the courts…

A month ago I had just hit squash balls with a new friend who is a serious squash player, but out of shape. We stopped after 30 minutes. It was my first time on a squash court in three years.

Then I saw a martial arts movie, The Best of the Best, in which USA coach James Earl Jones says things like: you must win all the time, not just some of the time or whenever. Winning is a life style that requires total dedication and concentration. Losers on the mat are losers in life.

The next day I played squash GAMES with my friend. I usually just hit on the court, not play games with points. But I won the first game 11-5. I noticed that when I was ahead, I was hoping the game would be over soon and that I wouldn’t blow it. I lost the next game 6-11. We took a break and talked. During the third game, I was ahead 7-2 and 9-4. But I was terrified that I was going to lose. Every time my opponent bounced the ball before serving, it was so deliberate and practiced and intense and serious, I was actually afraid. I could see that he was an experienced player. I was incredibly impatient again for the game to be over. I sure knew what it was like to have NO confidence, low self esteem, fear and self-disgust.

I remembered the words from the movie and repeated them in my head. “I want to win, you can do it.” But I was definitely scared and had no confidence that I would win…even with a five point lead. I certainly didn’t want to be a loser. But I lost anyway, 10-12…I made one more point, while the other guy made eight. It was a rout. It was ridiculous. My game was pathetic.

Later I told myself that it’s not so important, I was out of practice, I have played few games in my life, none in three years. Yatta, yatta, yatta. My rationalization included recalling that the Malaysia plane had been destroyed, there was fighting in Gaza, etc, etc. A squash game means nothing. I got over it…

Two days later I played tennis. Phil Farmer, an experienced player, had told me earlier that he always plays to win, because it’s “his game… it’s who he is.” I admired his determination to play well and not accept losing to his peers. I play my best, but when I lose, I often say that “It’s just a game.”

On the doubles court one set, I was the weakest player. As part of the round robin format that afternoon, first team to five games and ahead by two is the winner.

The first time I served in the set, we won easily. My serving has improved considerably, since I took a lesson a month ago. I also practiced serving for an hour the night before and for 15 minutes earlier the day of this match. My partner certainly deserves credit for putting away a number of the returns to my serve. At least what I sent out when serving didn’t come back as winners. To everyone’s surprise, our team took a 4-0 lead. I was giddy. Winning would be an upset. I even wanted a bagel.

Now I was serving again for the match…but we lost. Then we lost again and again and again. Score is 4-4. Tiebreak.

Our opponents took an early lead, I lost both my serves. Soon we were behind 1-5. But I have much more hope and optimism and confidence in tennis than in squash. I am known as the guy who “never gives up,” and I tell my partners that all the time. We came back to 3-6, and it was my turn to serve again. I wanted to win, though I did not believe we WOULD win. But I was going to give it all I had, do my best, make a real effort. It never even occurred to me that we were definitely going to lose or that I was afraid.

I served a fast ball (for me) right down the middle that skidded off the line for an ace. 4-6. My second serve was not returned. I think it was hit into the net. 5-6. I hadn’t choked. We were still in the game. Then we break the next point. It’s 6-6, then 6-7, 7-7, 8-7, 8-8, 9-8.

My turn to serve again. I don’t choke for the second time. My serve is not returned in the court. We win 10-8!

Who would have believed it? No one. My partner and I talked later about the changes in momentum…after all, we were ahead 4-0, then lost it to 4-4 and 1-5 in the tiebreak. Then something changed again. Why wasn’t I afraid? I don’t know. I do remember though that when I was serving at 3-6, I was unsure how to do the serving motion. It felt awkward, forced, the farthest rhythm from smooth and practiced.

But somehow it happened…even an ace down the “T.” I want to know how to do this in everyday life. How to come through when I need to. How to not be afraid or so scared that I am wishing it would end and be over, even if I am the loser, which is an awful feeling I don’t have hardly at all. I mean I lose all the time. I make mistakes every day. But the fear I felt in that squash game was painful.

During the hour of talk and drinks after the tennis match, it didn’t register emotionally. I was proud when one friend I played with earlier said he’d heard about my victory and told everyone that I had probably told my partner to “Never give up.” I like knowing that people think of me that way. It’s a good attitude, and it’s definitely one that is part of me.

A couple of hours later at home, when I was telling my wife about how my team won the set in the tiebreak, I was exuberant, excited and exhilarated. I felt happy. It was great. It didn’t matter a bit that my teams with different partners had lost three other sets that day as well.

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I Am Jealous Of Simona Halep

Simona Halep post-surgery

Simona Halep post-surgery


Simona is the #3 ranked player in the world, ahead of Sharapova (6), Azarenka (10) and Wozniacki (13), all former #1s. She was named the WTA’s most improved player of the year in 2013, after winning six WTA tournaments that year. This year she made it to the finals of the French Open and the semi finals at Wimbledon. Amazing achievements!

How did she do this? She changed the weight and balance of her body by having breast reduction surgery in 2009, when she was only 17 years old. Since then she has moved up over 450 places in the world rankings. By the end of 2009, she had risen to 166th…to 47th at the end of 2012…to 11th at the end of 2013.

At the time of her operation, Miss Halep said of her breasts: “It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play. I don’t like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman.” She also experienced back pain.

As one commentator explained: “She is more confident, more mobile and her strokes are less restricted now that those obstacles have been reduced.” Her recently appointed coach Wim Fissette said her breast reduction had been “an important part of her career.”


Because with one basic operation, she became a super star tennis player. Imagine if I could have something done in my brain to make the ball seem slower…so I could focus on it and hit it better/faster/harder. It takes half a second for the served tennis ball to reach me. What I could do with what seems like another quarter of a second! Just turn me into a tennis-playing hummingbird-humanoid.

Imagine if I could have the lower half of my body thinned out, so I could move faster. There would be so many shots hit to me that I could return if I reached the ball a fraction of a second sooner, because I was faster!

Imagine if I could go back in time to when I was younger and start playing tennis before I was 10 or 6 years old…so I would develop good habits that don’t have to be overcome or unlearned.

It doesn’t seem fair that she is able to make this physical change in one afternoon that totally ups her game! I want a bionic change like that to improve my game. Even if I don’t make it into the pro ranks and to Wimbledon.

How do you think the other pros feel about Simona’s path to greatness? Could anyone argue with what she has done? She might claim that she was genetically handicapped, and the other pros weren’t. Now everyone is on an equal playing field.

But of course that’s not true. Ivo Karlovic is 6’10″ and has hit the second fastest serve in the game (156 mph). Yet he plays Olivier Rochus, who is just 5’5″ and runs faster, but is not as powerful or difficult to lob over. Those two certainly aren’t equal.

Anyway I can dream about having a different body type…but it’s not going to happen. I just have to keep working at improving my game and stop looking for shortcuts that would eliminate that effort. I am sure Simona has put just as many practice hours into her game as the other pros and is a great talent who deserves full credit for her achievements.

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Bodybuilder Sonny Bryant: Age Gives People A Reason To Be Lazy

Josh Sobel sent me this video about Sam “Sonny” Bryant, Jr, a 70-year-old bodybuilder (when this was made last year) who started working out 27 years ago, when he was 44. He says “More peoples die retired than they do on the job working.” So he never plans to retire. But I read that he works out twice a day, so I wonder if he means he is going to keep working out as opposed to working for money.”Age gives most people a reason to be lazy,” is another view he has. So is “Your thought process is what makes you old.”

Check out this video of a competition he won for his division. Also impressive here is the one-legged bodybuilder:

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