Monday, November 24, 2008


there was a brief spotlight of sports news recently on a sport completely unrelated to triathlon or anything endurance-related, but which i see as touching on a subject that concerns all sports--or for that matter, all society.

the story dealt with an aspiring professional golfer named J.P. Hayes. to join the PGA, golfers have to get a PGA card. most golfers get this by qualifying through qualifying school and/or tournament play. J.P. Hayes was at one such tournament crucial to his chances for qualifying. however, at the end of his rounds he found a ball which he had inadvertently used on a hole. rather than concealing the fact and accepting his score (and thereby keeping himself in the race for a pro card), he reported himself and took a disqualification from the tournament--effectively destroying his chances at qualifying for the PGA.

there's a number of good links on the story of what happened (i put the full text of the 1st article at the bottom of this post):
what gets me about this story is that J.P. reported himself. golf is different from other sports in that it's self-regulating. that is, there are no referees or judges on the green monitoring penalties and infractions of athletes. as a result, players are expected to hold to a code of honesty, even if it means hurting their own competitiveness in play.

this is something that a cynical person would argue is naive at best and ludicrous at worst, since it's contrary to human nature to act out in a way that penalizes the self. particularly in sports, where the primacy is on trying to win, and the pressure is to exercise supreme pragmatism and employment of any possible option that aids achievement of a win. often, this means bending or violating the rules when given the opportunity to do so.

this attitude is so prevalent that social scientists even incorporate as an assumption in social models of human behavior--the "rational actor", where "rational" is defined as acting out of self-interest. it's as if we accept it as the norm.

but people don't always act that way. people, in fact, often act in ways that are entirely selfless, even to the point of penalizing themselves. how do you explain acts of charity? how do you explain parents forgoing personal opportunities to raise children? how do you explain soldiers on a battlefield who throw themselves on grenades to save the lives of their comrades?

people often say that these are extreme cases, and that human beings don't act that way in normal settings, particularly in settings where the pressure is for self-gain at any cost.

well, here's a situation where a human being did. and in sports, no less, where the drive is win at any cost.

there's a saying that "our character is what we do when we think no one is looking." sad to say, i think most of us would show a pretty poor character if we knew that there was no one to catch us cheating. not just athletes, but society in general.

which is why i think this story is so special. because it shows that there is still character in this world, and that it exists, even in a pressure-packed environment like sports. because it means that if a person in such a context can still retain a measure of character then the rest of us can as well.

you might say that such a lesson is still lost in this case, because character wasn't rewarded. J.P. Hayes lost his opportunity for his pro card because he turned himself in.

thing is, i'm not so sure. my father and grandfather before him always told me that a person shouldn't be rewarded for doing what they're expected to do; doing the right thing is the standard, not the exception.

but even in a world where it is not the standard, i still see the lesson here as relevant. and here's why: it means that there is still a place for things like good and decency and virtue in this world, and that these just aren't words but ideas that people live by...ideas that lift humanity out of the morass of bestiality and darkness and frees us to aspire to the greater aspects of existence. ideas that allow us to be better. ideas that allow us to become noble. ideas that allow us to truly live.

and these achievements are only possible when we act for the greater whole rather just for ourselves.

and that's the meaning of honesty.

Hayes becomes latest to cry, 'What a stupid I am.'
Canadian Press
3 days ago

The moment J.P. Hayes looked down at the golf ball on the floor in his hotel room, he knew there were only two options. Keep his mouth shut and his chances of playing full-time on the PGA Tour next season alive. Or pick up the phone and disqualify himself.

Ten days later, the only thing that seems remarkable to Hayes about that decision is the stir it created. He said he was only doing what any golfer would, although in Hayes' case, totalling up the cost probably will require six figures.

"It's blown me away," Hayes said Thursday about the reaction. "I certainly don't want to be made out as a hero. I'm just a player that did the right thing. If it's served to remind people what a good game we've got, that's great. But I've already moved on."

Hayes was on the tee at the par-3 12th hole in the first round of the PGA Tour's qualifying tournament when his caddie flipped him the fateful golf ball. He missed the green, chipped on, marked his ball and then realized it wasn't the one he'd started the day with. Hayes called over an official and took a two-shot penalty, then went back to playing his original ball on the next tee and finished the round with a 74. He shot 71 the following day, leaving him with a very good chance of moving on to final stage of Q-School, from where the top 25 finishers and ties graduate to exempt status on the PGA Tour for 2009.

Like a lot of golfers, Hayes is such an equipment freak that he goes through his golf bag every night. When he did that in his hotel room the night after the second round, he realized the ball that had already cost him two strokes was a prototype that hadn't been approved for tournament play. After he called a PGA tour official, he recalled, "I pretty much knew at that point I was done."

The last thing Hayes wants is people feeling sorry for him. He lost his tour card after slumping to 178th on the money list last season, but nearly two decades after turning pro and years of bouncing between the big tour and the minors, he's bankrolled US$7 million in career earnings.

He also knows there are worse ways to make a living than another stint on the Nationwide Tour, even at age 43. What he still doesn't understand is the fuss.

"We don't have refs on the course, so we have to call penalties on ourselves. I've done it before, dozens of guys have," Hayes said. "Just about everybody out there does, but usually we move on and nobody hears about it."

That's not entirely true. Enough stories like Hayes' have slipped out over the years to suggest that while golfers are hardly saints, they tend to do the right thing a lot more often than their counterparts in just about every other sport.

Golfers have called penalties on themselves after discovering their child's cut-down club rattling around in the bottom of the bag (too many clubs) and because a ball wobbled in stiff winds while they were getting ready to putt it. There are too many stories of players DQ'd for signing incorrect scorecards to list, but the most famous one ended with Argentine Roberto deVicenzo delivering perhaps the most-famous and least-bitter lament ever in pro sports: "What a stupid I am."

If the same thing happened in major league baseball or the NFL - where the unofficial motto is, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying" - his agent would have filed a grievance while the ink on the scorecard was still dry. For some reason, golf is different.

"It's the most honest thing anyone could do," fellow pro Rich Beem said about Hayes, who's a good friend. "This guy lost his job because of it. To me, it not only shows how much class J.P. has, but most PGA Tour pros in general. Most would do the same thing."

But Beem acknowledged a moment later, "I would like to think I would in that position, but it would be tough. I'm glad that wasn't laid on me."

As anybody who plays the game knows, golf can be cruel and nowhere is that manifest more than at Q-School, where the pressure is palpable because so many livelihoods are at stake. A golfer named Roland Thatcher came to the 18th hole at Bear Lakes in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2001 needing only a par to get his card. He bounced his approach over the green, onto a cart path and eventually onto the roof of the clubhouse. Not only was his lifelong dream scuttled, he had take a drop in a pampas bush and play his next shot from there. Thatcher made triple bogey and hasn't been heard from since.

Hayes may be much luckier. Among his calls the last few days were several from tour sponsors who might be willing to give him an exemption. Between those events and several second-tier tournaments where he's won in the past, Hayes figures he'll get a dozen starts on the big tour next season.

"A few people who've called reminded me good things can come out of tough situations," he said. "We'll see."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

videos: dynamic stretching (part 1)

ok, so my post on stretching and warm-up discussing dynamic stretching got quite a bit of attention--not just in terms of comments, but in terms of visits to the post (reference: stretching and warm-up).

a fair number of people asked me what dynamic stretching actually looks like, so i decided it'd be worthwhile to write a follow-up post with some demonstrations to help people understand how the concept of dynamic stretching is translated into application. i took some time to look for videos on Youtube, and filtered out a selection that i thought were best.

i should caution that there are different kinds of dynamic stretching exercises, geared towards preparing different parts of the body for different kinds of motions involved in different types of sports. as a result, no single video can really be taken as comprehensive or universal, and you should recognize that your sport of choice (in my case, triathlon) calls for a sport-specific set of dynamic stretching.

to some degree i already talked about dynamic stretching in my posts discussing running drills, which showed a selection of what i considered to be excellent videos on Youtube showing drills common to running in terms of warm-up and technique work. you can check them out:
but in terms of videos actually identified specifically as dynamic stretching, i also found a few more that i think demonstrate the concepts involved. most of them come from other sports (it appears mostly basketball & football), but i think they're largely applicable to triathlon since they manage to cover most of the body:
there's also a series from DRIVE Fitness focusing on basic dynamic stretching:
i'd like to try and find some dynamic stretching exercises used by triathletes--or at the very least, used by swimmers, cyclists, and runners, just to see if there's anything different between the 3 disciplines. but for now, i think these will do.

you can see what dynamic stretching actually looks like. that, and you can see how each of these reflects the principles of dynamic stretching (i.e., gradually lengthening the muscle tissue through an increasing range of motion, but doing so while increasing blood flow and elasticity while under light resistance), and so can get an idea as to why they're good for the warm-up phase preceding workouts or competition.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

teasing for fat loss (because that's what friends will do)

i came across a small feel-good story recently while randomly perusing the internet. it's heartwarming, and quite touching, in the way that every once in a too-long while little things in out-of-the-way places on quiet days often tend to be.

it's about friends. and just what friends will do for one another.

the link to the article is here:
and as always, if the link doesn't work, i've put the full text of the article at the end of this post.

i don't know who wrote the article--there's no byline given--but i'll let the story speak for itself, and skip summarizing it here. i'll just introduce it by saying that it's about 2 men, Frank Lynch and Antonio Douglas, and how Frank became concerned over his friend Antonio's obesity and managed to entice him back to a healthy weight. that's their picture at the top.

i've written about friendship before (reference: choices in friends). but this story gives a real-world illustration about just what it means to be a friend.

you see, friends--real friends--are the ones who care enough about you that they'll always keep a watch out for you. they're the ones who care enough about you that they'll do whatever it takes to help you. they're the ones who care enough about you to tell the truth, even if it hurts. and they're the ones who care enough about you that they'll do so even if it means risk to themselves or even their friendship with you.

and they'll keep caring. and watching. and doing. and telling. no matter how you change or what you do or who you become.

and it won't matter the differences in age, or race, or gender, or looks, or class, or profession, or politics, or religion, or worldview, or country of origin.

because they know, just as you know, that friendship is about just one thing, and just one thing only:

to help you become a better person.

and that's all any of us can ever really ask for in life.

A running friendship saves the life of one pal
Teasing by boss helps an obese man shed 151 pounds and get in shape
The Associated Press
Sun., Nov. 9, 2008

ATLANTA - Frank Lynch had been in Antonio Douglas' head for nearly 10 years.

The sarcastic sexagenarian seemed to revel in mocking the 5-foot-4, 330-pound Douglas, lumbering around the Cactus Car Wash lot. But of all the taunts Douglas had endured from his boss over the years, this was the one that stuck.

"I'm going to be 70 soon," Lynch boasted in his heavy Scottish burr. "And I can run twice as fast as you can."

Douglas made a decision: He would make Lynch eat those words.

A year and a half later the two friends have raced twice — each claiming a victory and winning a total of $22,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. But given their fierce competitiveness, it wouldn't be a surprise to find these two lining up for Douglas v. Lynch III: The Ultimate Revenge.

Relentless insults aside, this is a tale of an unlikely friendship that saved a life. It kept a boss from giving up — or letting up — on a man he considered not only a business investment, but a personal challenge.

Years before they met on the starting line at Grady Memorial Stadium, Douglas was hired by Lynch to supervise one of his car washes. It wasn't exactly a fast friendship.

"He was just anal," Douglas said, an observation that also translates into an unprintable seven-letter description he had for his boss. "He wanted perfection. We had growing pains."

But Douglas soon won Lynch over with his work ethic and sense of humor.

"He can do all kinds of impressions," Lynch bragged, and laughed as Douglas mocked the Glasgow native. "I felt an affinity towards him. There are other people who work here who I like, but nobody I felt that connection to."

Growing concerns
A bond developed between the black employee and his older, white boss, who became like family. Lynch was there to help Douglas through his divorce and brags about Douglas' teenage son like a proud grandfather.

Over the years, as Douglas frequented the fast food restaurants near the car wash, his waistline gradually expanded. He gorged on cheeseburgers and fries, fried chicken and burritos. "If it didn't move, I ate it. If it moved too slow, I ate it," he said.

"Antonio, you're getting bigger every time I see you!" Lynch exclaimed when he came from Charleston, S.C., to visit the franchise.

Lynch had grown fond of Douglas, and watched with concern as his friend grew heavier. By 2007, it had become a real effort for Douglas to get around the car wash, and Lynch took every opportunity to remind him of it.

"His stomach turned the corner before he did," Lynch said. "We were all getting anxious about his health."

Douglas didn't let on — Lynch was getting to him, "but it also motivated me," he said.

The old man kept wearing on him, but he was worried, too. But when humor didn't work, the boss turned to scare tactics. He knew Douglas' son had a promising future.

"I told him, 'I predict you're not going to be around that much longer,"' he said.

Lynch admits some of his motives were selfish.

"He's loyal, he's hardworking," Lynch said. "What the hell am I going to do without him if he's not here?"

When Douglas decided to have gastric bypass surgery in April 2007, he told Lynch and his wife before his own family. When he woke up from surgery, Lynch was his first visitor.

"A lot of people say they care about you, but when they show they care, that means a lot," Douglas said. "Anybody else could've said the same things and it wouldn't have meant nothing to me."

David v. Lynch
In the six months after the surgery, Douglas lost 112 pounds. And he challenged the old man to a 100-meter race.

Douglas v. Lynch was set for Oct. 28, 2007, and word spread quickly among the employees and customers as the sprint turned into a public showdown.

"I thought, there's no way that an old, kilt-wearing white man can beat me," said Douglas.

Those looking for a good cause — or maybe just a good laugh — bought tickets at $3 apiece in 10 days. More than 800 tickets were sold and more than $10,000 was raised.

At 42, Douglas post-surgery wasn't fat, but he wasn't in shape either. He thought that with so many pounds melting away it would be easy to cross the finish line ahead of Lynch. But he was no match for the spry senior — Lynch beat him by nearly 5 seconds.

"He's a freak of nature," Douglas said of his 69-year-old boss.

The younger man nearly lost his pride from the constant teasing around the car wash. A video of the race was played on a loop in the lobby for a month.

Douglas had to discipline himself, and as he did the pounds continued to fall off and he grew determined to mount a rematch. Lynch got wind of the plan and confronted his skinnier friend.

"I hear you've been shooting your mouth off," Lynch told him. "Are you serious?"

Their eyes locked. "I'm serious," Douglas said.

"I realized, he's for real," said Lynch, who had beat non-Hodgkin lymphoma and whose wife had won her battle against breast cancer.

Fitter and slimmer
In the past year, Douglas replaced eating to excess with exercise — lifting weights for half an hour, swimming for an hour and walking for 45 minutes a day on his treadmill. He hasn't had a soda since before the surgery and has traded in his bucket of fried chicken for a grilled chicken salad.

Now 43, Douglas, who has since been promoted to general manager of the car wash, is significantly fitter and slimmer, at 179 pounds. Still, he knew better than to take his 5-foot-7-inch, 158-pound boss for granted.

"I gotta be faster," he said in the days leading up to the Oct. 26 race. "I feel stronger. I feel healthier. But he's cagey."

Around the car wash, he was feeling the pressure — not just from Lynch.

"You can't let him beat you like that again," one of men said.

The statement was more than just a word of encouragement. There were side bets at the office.

And on that Sunday evening as the sun set at Grady Memorial Stadium, the men took their marks. And this time, it was the younger man who crossed the finish line first. Even though both men stumbled and fell towards the end, Douglas won by two seconds.

Which was fine with Lynch. Better to lose the race than to lose his friend.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

stretching and warm-up?

there was an interesting article in the New York Times recently dealing with stretching and warm-up routines.

the link to the article is:
if that doesn't work, i've put the full text of the article at the end of this post.

a lot of this article confirms the idea of warm-up routines, and mentions a few of the drills that are typically used in the running community. i wrote a couple of posts on these before, with some useful Youtube videos demonstrating the drills:
what got my attention in the article, however, was the commentary on the notion of stretching. the article gives the impression that stretching is of questionable value, and to some degree is actually bad, for anyone preparing to engage in athletic activity.

i've heard these comments before from various other sources, both within the larger sporting world and the smaller endurance sports community. there have even been studies showing that stretching is not effective, either for preventing injury or for improving physical performance. as a result, i've seen a growing movement arguing against stretching altogether, saying that people should stop doing it at all.

thing is, i don't know if this is really wise. it seems like people are jumping from one extreme (i.e., believing that stretching is everything) to the opposite extreme (i.e., believing that stretching is the root of all evil). i doubt that either perspective is entirely right, and i suspect the truth is something entirely different.

from a personal standpoint, i have largely been taught that the processes of stretching and warm-up are complementary, and if done correctly help each other. the key words are: if done correctly. the issue is, they rarely ever are, neither individually nor together. instead, they are frequently treated as separate, independent, mutually exclusive activities. more than that, even when used together, they are often employed using incorrect or improperly applied techniques. the end result is futility at best and injury at worst.

what i've learned is that stretching and warm-up serve several major purposes:
  • physical therapy aiding recovery of muscular, skeletal, and connective tissues;
  • physical conditioning improving flexibility and elasticity of aforementioned tissues;
  • physical development increasing power and endurance;
  • injury prevention;
  • preparation for competition.
to accomplish these purposes, however, requires that 1) correct stretching techniques and correct warm-up techniques are employed in correct ways, and 2) such ways are combined in correct combinations.

personally, i know that i've always suffered whenever i omitted stretching routines from my training regimen, and likewise whenever i omitted warm-up routines. similarly, i know i've always suffered whenever i attempted wrong routines, or did right routines in wrong ways.

through many bouts with coaches, physical therapists, sports doctors, other athletes, and personal experience, i've come to believe that your body has very clear needs in terms of improving or maintaining elasticity and flexibility, and that as a result it needs exercises that enable these things. there are specific exercises that exist that do just this--and they involve a regimen of both stretching and warm-up, but in ways that require very specific combinations of both with very strict form and a very clear understanding of just what it is that they are trying to do.

i can say that i have a stretching and warm-up regimens before and after every workout, as well as for waking up and going to bed, and that they all vary depending on the nature of the workout (which sport, what intensity, what duration, etc.) or on the day (rest day, active day, recovery day, etc.) or on the goal (physical therapy, physical development, physical conditioning, etc.). and i can say that without these, i've suffered terribly in terms of injuries and degradation.

of course, i've been able to do workouts and competitions without stretching or warmup. but i've always regretted it. and it's one thing to go without them when you're young (when i was a kid, i never did this stuff), but another thing entirely when you're older. as you age, your body doesn't adapt or recover as well, and it becomes almost imperative to stretch and warm-up. believe me, i know.

which is why i'm a little leery of what this article is saying. i wouldn't be so quick to discount stretching. it's not everything, but it's not nothing either. we need all the help we can get.

Phys Ed Stretching: The Truth
By Gretchen Reynolds
New York Times

WHEN DUANE KNUDSON, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, Chico, looks around campus at athletes warming up before practice, he sees one dangerous mistake after another. “They’re stretching, touching their toes. . . . ” He sighs. “It’s discouraging.”

If you’re like most of us, you were taught the importance of warm-up exercises back in grade school, and you’ve likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

“There is a neuromuscular inhibitory response to static stretching,” says Malachy McHugh, the director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The straining muscle becomes less responsive and stays weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching, which is not how an athlete wants to begin a workout.

THE RIGHT WARM-UP should do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body. When you’re at rest, there’s less blood flow to muscles and tendons, and they stiffen. “You need to make tissues and tendons compliant before beginning exercise,” Knudson says.

A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow. Warm muscles and dilated blood vessels pull oxygen from the bloodstream more efficiently and use stored muscle fuel more effectively. They also withstand loads better. One significant if gruesome study found that the leg-muscle tissue of laboratory rabbits could be stretched farther before ripping if it had been electronically stimulated — that is, warmed up.

To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging. Most coaches and athletes have known this for years. That’s why tennis players run around the court four or five times before a match and marathoners stride in front of the starting line. But many athletes do this portion of their warm-up too intensely or too early. A 2002 study of collegiate volleyball players found that those who’d warmed up and then sat on the bench for 30 minutes had lower backs that were stiffer than they had been before the warm-up. And a number of recent studies have demonstrated that an overly vigorous aerobic warm-up simply makes you tired. Most experts advise starting your warm-up jog at about 40 percent of your maximum heart rate (a very easy pace) and progressing to about 60 percent. The aerobic warm-up should take only 5 to 10 minutes, with a 5-minute recovery. (Sprinters require longer warm-ups, because the loads exerted on their muscles are so extreme.) Then it’s time for the most important and unorthodox part of a proper warm-up regimen, the Spider-Man and its counterparts.

“TOWARDS THE end of my playing career, in about 2000, I started seeing some of the other guys out on the court doing these strange things before a match and thinking, What in the world is that?” says Mark Merklein, 36, once a highly ranked tennis player and now a national coach for the United States Tennis Association. The players were lunging, kicking and occasionally skittering, spider-like, along the sidelines. They were early adopters of a new approach to stretching.

While static stretching is still almost universally practiced among amateur athletes — watch your child’s soccer team next weekend — it doesn’t improve the muscles’ ability to perform with more power, physiologists now agree. “You may feel as if you’re able to stretch farther after holding a stretch for 30 seconds,” McHugh says, “so you think you’ve increased that muscle’s readiness.” But typically you’ve increased only your mental tolerance for the discomfort of the stretch. The muscle is actually weaker.

Stretching muscles while moving, on the other hand, a technique known as dynamic stretching or dynamic warm-ups, increases power, flexibility and range of motion. Muscles in motion don’t experience that insidious inhibitory response. They instead get what McHugh calls “an excitatory message” to perform.

Dynamic stretching is at its most effective when it’s relatively sports specific. “You need range-of-motion exercises that activate all of the joints and connective tissue that will be needed for the task ahead,” says Terrence Mahon, a coach with Team Running USA, home to the Olympic marathoners Ryan Hall and Deena Kastor. For runners, an ideal warm-up might include squats, lunges and “form drills” like kicking your buttocks with your heels. Athletes who need to move rapidly in different directions, like soccer, tennis or basketball players, should do dynamic stretches that involve many parts of the body. “Spider-Man” is a particularly good drill: drop onto all fours and crawl the width of the court, as if you were climbing a wall. (For other dynamic stretches, see the sidebar below.)

Even golfers, notoriously nonchalant about warming up (a recent survey of 304 recreational golfers found that two-thirds seldom or never bother), would benefit from exerting themselves a bit before teeing off. In one 2004 study, golfers who did dynamic warm- up exercises and practice swings increased their clubhead speed and were projected to have dropped their handicaps by seven strokes over seven weeks.

Controversy remains about the extent to which dynamic warm-ups prevent injury. But studies have been increasingly clear that static stretching alone before exercise does little or nothing to help. The largest study has been done on military recruits; results showed that an almost equal number of subjects developed lower-limb injuries (shin splints, stress fractures, etc.), regardless of whether they had performed static stretches before training sessions. A major study published earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control, on the other hand, found that knee injuries were cut nearly in half among female collegiate soccer players who followed a warm-up program that included both dynamic warm-up exercises and static stretching. (For a sample routine, visit And in golf, new research by Andrea Fradkin, an assistant professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, suggests that those who warm up are nine times less likely to be injured.

“It was eye-opening,” says Fradkin, formerly a feckless golfer herself. “I used to not really warm up. I do now.”

You’re Getting Warmer: The Best Dynamic Stretches

These exercises- as taught by the United States Tennis Association’s player-development program – are good for many athletes, even golfers. Do them immediately after your aerobic warm-up and as soon as possible before your workout.


(for the hamstrings and gluteus muscles)

Kick one leg straight out in front of you, with your toes flexed toward the sky. Reach your opposite arm to the upturned toes. Drop the leg and repeat with the opposite limbs. Continue the sequence for at least six or seven repetitions.


(for the lower back, hip flexors and gluteus muscles)

Lie on your stomach, with your arms outstretched and your feet flexed so that only your toes are touching the ground. Kick your right foot toward your left arm, then kick your leftfoot toward your right arm. Since this is an advanced exercise, begin slowly, and repeat up to 12 times.


(for the shoulders, core muscles, and hamstrings)

Stand straight, with your legs together. Bend over until both hands are flat on the ground. “Walk” with your hands forward until your back is almost extended. Keeping your legs straight, inch your feet toward your hands, then walk your hands forward again. Repeat five or six times.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


"and although it seems heaven sent
we ain't ready, to see a black president"
-changes, tupac shakur

we tell ourselves that our life is one of opportunity. of unlimited choices and unlimited horizons stretching as far as the mind can dream. and that to reach them, all we have to do is believe and commit to working to achieve them.

but things aren't always that simple. life has a way of always proving otherwise. obstacles, hurdles, obstructions, challenges. expected and unexpected. accidental and intentional. many annoying, some frustrating, a few unyielding, and all of them all together overwhelming. or at the very least, more than enough to show us that opportunity is a myth.

and for some more so than others.

which is why it's so important to see dreams fulfilled. so important to see them manifested beyond our belief and past the efforts of our work.

because you need more than myth. you need reality.

because you have to do more than talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

because dreams are just dreams, belief is just belief, and work is all in vain, if opportunity is nothing more than a figment of the imagination. they, just like the human spirit, will starve without the sustenance of substance to nourish the hungry heart. or worse, they will implode in the self-destruction produced by the bitterness of their own resultant anguish and alienation.

which is why it's so special to see what's happened now. so special to see dreams made manifest. so special to see that the myth of opportunity is now the reality of opportunity.

and to know that it exists for everyone.

this is why it's so special that we can now wash away the bitterness, provide the sweet sustenance of nourishment, and re-write the lyrics to finally say:

"and it must be heaven sent,
we're finally ready to see a black president"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

the hour has changed

the hour has changed.

there was a time when you feared the morning alarm. the hammer that cracked the serenity of your sleep, the reality that sliced through the bliss of your dreams, with all the harshness of the morning chill and the inevitability of the gathering dawn, pulling away whatever solace there had been to comfort you.

the hour has changed.

there was a time when you would ignore the alarm and pull the blanket over your head and curl closer into your bed and bury yourself further into your sheets and dig deeper into your pillow and do anything to go back to sleep sleep sleep and to seek the comfort of warm and soft and cozy and still.

to turn away from the crispness of the rising air and to close your eyes to the glowing of the growing light, and do everything you could to just stay where you were...just away from whatever lay out there, beyond the confines of your own night.

the hour has changed.

now? now things are different.

now, you're actually awake before the alarm sounds. you actually can't wait for it to ring.

now, you rise, and throw off the blanket and step out from bed and push away the sheets and set aside the pillow and get away from sleep and seek something more than what there was before.

now, you delight in the morning. you taste the clean crispness of the chill, you smell the fresh aroma of the air, you hear the subtle sounds of rustling life, you feel the gentle gathering of early light, and you see the broad spectrum of the deep colors that come with the ascendance of the dawn.

and your senses tell you what you have come to know: it is a moment symphonic. and sacred, and holy, and profound. and it is a miracle that you are there to be a witness to it all.

and it makes you realize that you want to be be a part of everything out there, beyond the confines of your own night, in the freedom of open light. to be the miracle that is life.

in time without fear.

the hour has changed.

and so have you.