Monday, October 26, 2015

Speedgolf World Championships Update

2015 World Speedgolf Championships
I recently returned from the 2015 World Professional Speedgolf Championships where I placed 20th, matching my result from 2014. The event was a 36-hole competition at the Glen Club outside Chicago, IL. I shot 86 in 54 minutes on day 1, and 91 in 58 minutes on day 2, for a total score of 289 and a 20th placing in the pro division. The winner Rob Hogan of Ireland shot 243 (83-42;78-40) and earned $11,550 from the total purse of $40,000. 

It was not a great performance as I struggled to keep my swing under control while running full speed. My highlight was the second nine on day 1 when I shot 38, including two under for the final five holes. It tied the best score of the day for the back nine among all pros. If you're good at addition you'll realize that I shot 48 on the front nine that day with four lost balls. Everyone struggled in the 22mph wind, but gee I guess my ball ignored the wind on the back nine...

At 50, I was the second oldest in the pro field and these young guys are very fast and great players. I'm already practicing for next year. I took 20th last year as well in the pro division at Bandon Dunes, OR. Here is the Sacramento Bee article about my 2014 participation, 18 years after my last pro event.



 
36th and final hole on Tues, hence the smile..

Hanging with Olympic silver medalist 1500m runner Nick Willis of New Zealand, also a top Speedgolfer in his spare time. 

Here's the amazing Rob Hogan of Ireland, the world's top Speedgolfer. He is a full-time competitor, training like a marathon runner and a professional golfer at his home in Galway, Ireland.

More Speedgolf


Here is my viral YouTube sensation: Introduction to Speedgolf

Speedgolf revolutionizes the traditional sport by introducing the element of speed, endurance, quick reaction, and shot creativity into the slowest-paced of all sports. In Speedgolf, your score is comprised of the number of minutes spent on the course plus the number of strokes taken (similar to the winter olympic sport of biathlon - shooting and xc skiing).


History of Speedgolf
My first exposure to Speedgolf was when Olympic middle distance runner and recreational golfer Steve Scott set a Guinness World Record for playing a round of golf in 27 minutes, shooting 103 back in the early 80s. In 1985, my mother bet me $50 that I couldn't finish 9 holes in under 30 minutes. I finished the nine in 17 minutes and change and was flabbergasted to notice that I played as good or better than normal golf when I was running full speed through the course--in the zone!

Years later, endurance sports publishing guru Bob Babbitt organized a circuit of Southern California tournaments where we raced thru the course, and had caddies in golf carts providing all of our clubs on demand. I placed 8th in the 1996 World Extreme Golf Championships in San Diego, shooting 80 in 40 minutes for a 120. The sport had Red Bull sponsorship and coverage on ESPN as an attempt to become the next cool extreme sport but it kind of fizzled out.


Forwarding to 2012 or so and a group based in Oregon (Speed Golf International) brought the sport back big time! Oh man this was exciting for me because I was just returning to golf in 2013 after a 10-year run dominating youth athletes while coaching them in soccer, basketball and track (then they grew up and I was forced into the stands to cheer). I read about and watched great athletes like Christopher Smith and Rob Hogan, and practiced hard for a full year to join the elite players at the 2014 championships in Bandon Dunes. Speedgolf is a great sport because it doesn't take much time to play. I visit courses in the final hour before darkness when there are no other players out there, and zip around 9 holes in 30 or 45 minutes, then return home for dinner!


Kearns Golf
I've been golfing since age 4. My father, Dr. Walter Kearns, is the world's greatest golfer over age 90 and has had an amazing competitive career spanning eight decades, including participating in the US Amateur and US Senior amateur. Check out his website and marvel at stuff like eleven hole-in-ones, including seven accomplished in a five-year span after turning 80! My brother Wally is a top amateur player and former California State Amateur champion in his low handicap flite. My nephew Zachary Kearns plays with Capo Valley High School and does trick shots. Cousin Chris Kearns was the Wisconsin State Junior Champion and regular par player. Brother Jeff Kearns had a hole-in-one on Thanksgiving, 2014, joining a populous Kearns hole-in-one club (Marie, Gail, Wally, Walter, Jeff, and numerous cousins) that I have yet to join. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Living to 123! - YouTube Videos

I just started a new YouTube channel called Living to 123!, with good suggested workouts and inspirational athletic challenges. Here's a few:



400-meter time trial: My second attempt in September, a little slower than the first at 60.18 seconds!




Water Legs Ab Workout: This is the toughest and most effective ab workout I've discovered. A few seconds of effort on these is the same as doing 100 sit-ups!



Tony Milevsky's Fitness Playground: Living to 123! visits the amazing backyard and fitness studio filled with creative challenges. Get pumped up with this wild and crazy workout!

Doubling My Testosterone Naturally By Minimizing Workout Stress

I returned to actual endurance training in early 2015 to prepare for professional Speedgolf competition, after ~20 years of fooling around. I limited my heart rate to 145 bpm or below for my training runs, but it was still too high for an old guy and I suffered from overtraining my May.

Dr. Phil Maffetone, author of the Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing and legendary endurance coach, suggested that his MAF formula for determining the all-important maximum aerobic heart rate would deliver a more accurate value than calculating a percentage of maximum heart rate--especially for me because I have a higher than predicted max heart rate for a 50-year-old due to my athletic background.

Maffetone formula is 180-age, so I started running at 130 bpm. This is extremely slow and pretty frustrating to have to slow to a walk during an already slow run, or walk up hills instead of jog. After months of devoted effort and limiting heart rate however, my energy and general health improved greatly, as did my fitness. I filmed this video because I was particularly pleased to notice running along at a decent pace with a heart rate of only 123!



Many endurance athletes have trouble slowing down the pace of their workouts, especially to the extremely low intensity that 180-age dictates. In my case, the benefits of my aerobic base building have been validated not only by steady improvement on the trails, but in my blood values.

In April, in the midst of my chronic training patterns, my all-important testosterone values were 686 serum and 6.8 free-testosterone. 6.8 drew a low flag as clinically hypotestosteronemia! Not cool! In October, my values were 1,013 serum and 14.7 free-testosterone. For reference, during my professional triathlon career I ranged from 200-300 on serum testosterone. Even during my supposed peak hormonal years of my 20s, the extreme training and transcontinental travel suppressed my testosterone and in turn elevated stress hormones like cortisol that antagonize testosterone. Delivering a 1,000 serum level is legit for a high school dude, forget about a 50-year-old!

Bottom line: SLOWING DOWN will help you improve as an endurance athlete, it will help protect against overtraining and burnout, and it will optimize your hormones so you experience an anti-aging effect instead of accelerated aging that comes from chronic cardio training. These topics are some of the central elements of Primal Endurance, which is releasing in January to hopefully revolutionize the world of endurance training and help athletes following the conventional chronic approach embrace Primal Blueprint principles!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

How To Retire at 30

Note: Just discovered this in my archives - it's ~15 years old. I worked on it for a long time, super hard with back n forth edits - I was trying to get it into Men's Fitness where you earn a few grand for a short article, but it never made it in. So it makes the blog instead!

How To Retire At 30
By Brad Kearns

My first real job after college graduation was as a lowly staff auditor for the world’s largest accounting firm. Ten years later, I was retired. Not as a big shot CPA, but as a professional triathlete. What was it like to trade security, salary, and a business suit for a bathing suit? Well, when I went fast, it was great. I got to travel around the world and stay in beautiful resorts for free. There was substantial prize money and notoriety for winning races. Companies actually paid me to use their cool stuff. I could scoff at my miserable peers, slaving away for corporate America, making less money in a month than I made in 1 hour and 50 minutes of doing something I loved while people cheered.

Of course that was when I went fast. Sometimes I went slow. Or got disqualified from a eight hour race (that I won by 15 minutes) for running a stop sign. Or broke a pedal while leading another race. Or got sick, tired, or injured and had to watch someone else win. After nine years of piling up memories like those I realized it was time to hang it up. Of course it wasn’t that easy. I had to have the concept of the “R” word beaten into my head from all sides for me to take notice and do something about it.

Looking back, it's hard to blame myself. Winning is intoxicating; the confidence and sense of well-being I got from reaching the top of my profession clouded my view of reality. But gazing into the mirror and accepting my own athletic mortality was perhaps a more valuable lesson than anything I learned when I was victorious. When I was finally able to embrace the end of my career, I felt as ready for the real world as anyone who had slaved in it for the entire ten years I was avoiding it.

The second level of sell that kept me swimming, pedaling and running for ten years was my brief exposure to the real world after college graduation. Call me strange, but as a kid I dreamt of becoming a professional quarterback, not a Certified Public Accountant. The quarterback dream lasted until I was 12, when I got my first crack at tackle football. My 77-pound frame got crushed repeatedly in practice and rarely saw game time. My NFL dreams were soon replaced by delusions of running in the Olympics.

However deluded, I still hadn’t found anything to replace the power and allure of the career goal I’d had in some form since age seven. I decided to get my CPA, then go to law school, bribing the dream out of my consciousness with big bucks. What was I thinking? By the time I got my college diploma I had no idea. I decided to shun the CPA scene, especially after not impressing the on-campus recruiters enough to get a single job offer. I think it was those darn first impressions. I didn’t see the need to wear the strongly recommended business suit just for an interview; I’ll buy a suit after you hire me buddy!

So I sold frozen yogurt machines. More accurately, I drove for three months in heat, smog and traffic all over the Los Angeles basin trying to sell a frozen soft serve non-dairy dessert called Yodolo and the accompanying machine. Even though this was the ‘80's - the heyday of frozen yogurt - I didn’t sell a single unit. Motivation flagging, my boss set up a meeting with a star associate of his who was averaging 2.3 Yodolo sales a week. After a brilliant and inspiring pep talk, he then explained that his 2.3 sales per week at a thousand bucks a pop were barely enough to live on, due to the high cost of “babes and blow, man; the money’s gone before you know it.”

Soon after the pep talk, I bought a suit, crawled back to the accounting firms with my tail between my legs and secured the auditor position in downtown Los Angeles. I knew I was in trouble on the first day. Orientation was so boring that I could barely keep my eyes open; my fellow recruits were taking copious notes on riveting subjects like the firm’s retirement plan. Retirement plan....No, don’t go gently into that good night! I raged by getting serious with my triathlon training, waking at 5 AM to run before work and then swimming after work. As I pondered my future in gridlock traffic for two hours every day, my fantasy of a professional triathlon career appeared less and less ludicrous.

Intoxicated by 8 AM from freeway carbon monoxide, I spent workdays performing legendary tasks like photo copying for eight straight hours, double-checking a computer printout of bank account balances for 20 hours (somebody’s got to do it, he’s an auditor), and running errands for my superiors. I think the only reason that I had to wear a suit instead of a cap and overalls was that they were billing my time out at $65 per hour.

The last straw came on a Friday evening of Valentines Day. My two female superiors and I were working like crazy to finish a two-week audit job at a bank. My girlfriend arranged for a delivery of balloons to the bank, an event that distressed my bosses on seemingly too many levels. Highly motivated by sympathy, I brought them a small Valentine’s gift after lunch. One of them said, “Thanks, but bear in mind that this will have no affect whatsoever on your P-66 (employee evaluation).” The two Chips-On-Their-Shoulders and I finally finished around 9 PM. Dinner plans with my girlfriend were shot when the Chips ordered me to drop off a dozen file boxes at the firm’s downtown offices. The Chips rushed out and I was left , in the pouring rain, to stuff every inch of my car with these boxes.

The six-mile trip took 45 minutes. Our firm’s temporary parking garage was a quarter-mile away from our new offices. Each trip along the outdoor walkway to the office building left me and the cardboard boxes drenched. On my final trip, the dolly hit a bump and the boxes and contents went flying all over the puddle-filled sidewalk. Cramming everything into what was left of the rain-soaked, tattered boxes, I headed straight for the office of one of the Chips, dumped the soaking boxes and headed back out into the rain.

Monday I called my boss to give him two-weeks notice. He couldn’t schedule me for a week and a half, so when the meeting came I announced: “I’m quitting Friday.” “Friday the uh, fourth of April?” “No, Friday.”


Eight months later, as a struggling, unknown rookie pro, I upset #1-ranked duathlete (Kenny Souza) and #1 ranked triathlete in the world (Scott Molina) in the same race for my first pro victory. That and other highlights surpassed anything I had ever imagined. So did the financial, physical and emotional hardships I endured over the course of my career. Dreams may not always end up as you want them to, but that isn't the point. What’s important is to chase them with all your might.

November 1986 Desert Princess World Championship Duathlon Series race #1: No clothes, no sponsors, no competition on this particular day...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Runnin' in the 50's at 50!

You may know I turned the big 5-0 back in Feb, so I want to challenge the aging process with some track&field efforts. Placer High School just installed a brand new track, which I broke in today with a 400-meter effort in 59.8 seconds. Not an easy effort to do solo, although my dog Stu was there to trip and faceplant me at the finish line.




This YouTube is from 400m attempt #2, trying to improve my time, but landing at 60.18 instead -ouch!

** 

Back in March, I cleared 5'3" (1.60 meters) in the high jump, qualifying for USA Masters Track&Field All-American standard and (unofficially, not from a meet) matching a tie for 12th on this year's outdoor list. Here is a 5'2" clearance from March on video. Here are the 2015 USA National outdoor rankings for old guys. Next up for me is the World Speedgolf Championships in Chicago, Oct 19-20. I am looking to improve upon my 20th place finish in the pro division last year in Oregon. 





I am inspired by other longtime friends who are still performing magnificent athletic feats. Here some of them (at right in photo) are pictured after an epic pool basketball battle versus three high school varsity superstar athletes (at left in photo) from Northern California. The old guys pictured are also preparing for the annual Extreme Sports Camp, a weekend battle royale in 11 different sports to crown the best jewish or goyim athletes in west Los Angeles over age 40.


Another guy who is defying the laws of aging and gravity in assorted water sports, from competitive curling, to skeleton to wake surfing is Ray "Big George" Sidney, Prime Minister of Lake Tahoe. He makes the very difficult sport of wakesurfing to look easy, even with a dog involved, on this video: Big George Wakesurf's Lake Tahoe


Hopefully those of you in the advancing age groups are starting to think more and more about delaying the aging process and reducing disease risk factors that have become all too common in modern society. Check out this post, Brad's Primal Style Anti-Aging Tips, for an overview of the primal philosophy and a detailed discussion of my diet, exercise and lifestyle routines. 




Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle Tips For Longevity and Peak Performance



Following are details of my personal diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits, and an overview of the principles of the Primal Blueprint and the evolutionary health movement. In 2008, I started working on The Primal Blueprint book and movement with Mark Sisson. I immediately transitioned away from the Standard American Diet (SAD) high in complex carbs to a Primal eating pattern that is comparatively very low carb and high in healthy fats. Emphasis is on natural, wholesome plant and animal foods that fueled human evolution: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Concurrently, I ditched my lifelong emphasis on endurance training to pursue more broad and health-promoting fitness activities, featuring more intense, explosive workouts that optimize hormones and delay aging. 

OVERVIEW of primal lifestyle tips (details follow)
  1. Eat Primally: Ditch processed grains and sugars in favor of nutritious primal foods, especially healthy, natural fats.
  2. Go Keto: The ultimate sophistication of low-carb dietary practices is the recently popular ketogenic eating strategy. Great for fat reduction and disease protection. 
  3. Move Frequently: Walk around more (especially taking breaks from prolonged sitting), try a standup desk, and do structured cardio workouts at a very comfortable pace of 180-minus-age in heart beats per minute (e.g. 180-50 year old = 130 maximum heart rate for an aerobic session.)
  4. Go Hard: Include regular brief, high-intensity strength and sprint workouts. Helps preserve muscle mass, optimize hormone function, reduce body fat, and delay aging.
  5. Sleep/Relax: Minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark--disrupts healthy hormone function. Prioritize adequate sleep and awaken full of energy. Nap whenever you need to. Discipline yourself to take downtime from constant digital stimulation and hyper-connectivity.
DIET
  1. Ditch grains and sugars: Nutrient-deficient that accelerate aging and promote fat storage and disease. Sugar and grains are cultural mainstays but science now validates that this stuff will kill ya. 
  2. Ditch refined vegetable oils and processed boxed/packaged/frozen foods: Pro-inflammatory, causing free radical reactions, accelerated aging, and cancer. Canola oil and other vegetable oils (and processed foods made with them) could be the worst thing you eat!
  3. Emphasize primal foods: Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds. Very low carb (no sugars or grains) and high in healthy fats by comparison to Standard American Diet (SAD).
  4. Flexible: When you become good at fat burning instead of dependent upon regular high carb meals as your main source of energy, your meal habits can become more sporadic. Intermittent Fasting optimizes fat metabolism, enhances cellular repair, and delays aging. 

The Primal Blueprint philosophy counters the "diet" concept of prescribed meals, calorie counting, and a regimented schedule. Caloric intake and meal choices can vary wildly each day, and you become expert at burning stored body fat. Meals are predominantly fat and stimulate minimal insulin response, keeping energy, blood sugar, and appetite stable all day, even when meals are skipped/missed.

My eating routine: I either fast until 12 noon or later per ketogenic eating strategy, or prepare a macronutrient-balanced super nutrition green smoothie w/full fat coconut or almond milk, Primal Fuel powder, avocado, assorted pre-frozen greens (spinach, kale, celery, beets, chard), a bit of frozen berries, and assorted supplements for athletic performance and recovery including MCT oil, creatine, L-carnitine, sea salt, and probiotics. Check out my smoothie video and get it going!

Sometimes I'll have a late breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and walnuts and Primal Kitchen mayo or just some 80-90% dark chocolate busted out around midday. Afternoon or evening features large salads with vegetables, meat, nuts and olive or avocado oil dressing, giant stir fry's with assorted organic leafy greens and other vegetables, and the highest quality grassfed meats or wild-caught fish, such as Lone Mountain Wagyu beef. Total elimination of all grains (wheat, rice, pasta, corn, and all derivatives), sugars/sweets and sweetened beverages. Okay, a little leaking here and there with occasional popcorn or corn tortilla fish tacos. If I want extra carbs I make these fabulous sweet potato discs. Beverage of choice is water or homemade kombucha. Snacks of assorted nut butters, and lots of 80-90% dark chocolate. Read about how I choose only the highest quality bean-to-bar dark chocolate.

My estimated macronutrient profile:

~66% fat: Naturally raised meat/fish/fowl/eggs, coconut products, avocados, nuts, seeds and their derivative butters, oils of avocado, olive, and coconut, and high cacao percentage dark chocolate)
~20% protein: 0.7g/lb of lean body mass is the goal. Easily accomplished from eating primal style. 
~14% carb: Under 150 grams/600 calories per day is the critical Primal goal, while under 50 grams per day is the critical keto goal. The 150g standard is easily accomplished when all grains and sugars are eliminated. Keto entails getting your carbs from veggies and putting aside fruit, sweet potatoes, and the like during those focused periods. I estimate my daily carb intake ranges from 20 grams to 150 grams with no specific pattern except for naturally increased carb intake in and around strenuous workouts. 

If you wonder if you are eating too many carbs, chart what you eat on a notepad for a day or two, trying to measure or estimate quantities as best you can, then visit myfitnesspal.com and input your data. It will generate a nice report with macronutrient and caloric breakdowns. 

Re - the Keto Reset: There are outstanding health, disease protection, and fat reduction benefits to be had from becoming highly fat adapted through frequent fasting and adherence to a very low carb intake standard with meals. Personally, I have no desire to adhere to strict keto guidelines every day, but many days I do by default, and believe it's a good practice to complete an occasional focused period of ketogenic eating lasting for six weeks. Mark and I reached New York Times #4 ranked bestseller with our 2017 book, The Keto Reset Diet. We also offer a comprehensive online course to learn how to go keto the right way. 

EXERCISE
For the past 10 years, I have modified my fitness regimen away from years of narrow focus on endurance, especially the extremely health-destructive chronic cardio training regimen that I followed as an elite triathlete for 15 years. Today I have a more balanced, far less time consuming regimen featuring comfortable aerobic workouts (i.e., slow jogging in the morning or evening on golf course), regular brief, high intensity strength training sessions at home with bodyweight, heavy weight, or resistance cords, and a high intensity sprint workout once every 7-10 days.

My routine:


  1. Morning Routine in bed every single day: This is the only thing I do every day no matter what. I launch from this baseline and it has really helped with injury prevention at my intense workouts. 
  2. Morning Cold Plunge: Three-minutes at 33F in a chest freezer filled with water. This has recently become a fantastic inclusion of my morning routine! Cold therapy delivers an assortment of hormonal, cognitive, and cardiovascular benefits. It's the best way to start an energizing day. I also plunge for a few minutes right before bed to lower body temp and facilitate a good night's sleep. After the morning session I'll do a set or two of hex-bar deadlifts and maybe some pull-ups to help rewarm. Read about the comprehensive benefits of cold therapy. {Link to MDA "Definitive Guide to Cold Therapy"}. 
  3. Jogging: Either a short morning jog of 20 min or evening golf course jog for Speedgolf practice. The critical component is the heart rate is at or below 130 beats per minute (180-age formula). This means a very slow (over 9 min/mile pace), very comfortable exercise session that doesn't stress me. I can easily run faster with minimal strain, but getting into a pattern of medium-to-difficult paced runs, instead of truly easy runs, can lead to fatigue, burnout and hormonal imbalances. Read how I doubled my testosterone from clinically low (after months of too much running at slightly excessive heart rates), to the 99th percentile for males 50+ and 95th percentile for males in their 20s!
  4. Strength Training: These brief, high intensity sessions last 10-20 minutes and happen 2-3 days/week. In my advanced age, I've drifted away from formal workouts that last too long and making me too tired in the days afterward. Instead, almost every day I do a bit of strength-related efforts, whether its 100 decline Spiderman pushups and a set of deep squats and deadlifts (maybe 10 min total time requirement). A couple days a week I'll do a more ambitious workout such as I do 200 Spidermans along with a few sets of deadlifts, squats, stretch cordz, pullups, or ankle band work. Everything is at home within easy reach so it's no trouble to get a little work in. The longest I'll be in an actual workout mode is only 20 minutes. Go hard and get it done before you overstimulate stress hormones. In contrast, being in the gym doing machine circuits for an hour is too stressful, making you tired and craving sugar in the aftermath.
  5. Sprinting: Sessions ~3x/month, consisting of warmup, 10 minutes quite challenging technique drills that elevate heart rate, and main session of 1 x 400m, 2 x 200m, and 4 x 100 meters at the running track. Sometimes I'll combine (fewer) sprints with high jump practice of 20 x explosive high jumps, or a golf course practice session where I'm running 3 x 500 yard hole all-out while playing (training for Guinness World Record attempt, practice going great right now!), or do my drills and then an all-out one-mile effort instead of the shorter sprints. Some rare sprinting footage.

LIFESTYLE
Sleep and sufficient rest, recovery and downtime from the hectic pace of modern life could be the number one priority for health and longevity. Research shows that if you are sleep deprived it compromises your ability to burn fat, essentially negating your diligent dietary transformation efforts and fitness accomplishments. 

The number-one priority in this area is to avoid excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. Get your screen work and entertainment done early in the evening, and reserve the last hours before bed for winding down in a dark, quiet, mellow setting - socialize, take an evening stroll, read a book, take a cold plunge! Download f.lux if you insist on working on computer after dark. Wear yellow lens sunglasses and use orange "bug light" bulbs to minimize indoor light after dark. Minimizing light exposure will trigger Dim Light Melatonin Onset, a genetically programmed response where we become sleepy soon after dark in alignment with our circadian rhythms and prep ourselves for a good night's sleep. 

Introducing excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark suppresses melatonin, elevates stress hormones, increases sugar cravings, and compromises optimal cycling through all phases of sleep. This in turn compromises immune function (healthy intestinal flora flourishes at night, while you sleep; as does cell repair and recovery from stress of daily life). Lights Out - Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, a fantastic book on the subject, recommends we all sleep 9.5 hours per night in the winter, and can get away with 8 hours per night in the summer. If you like catching up on email or Netflix at night, remind yourself that excess evening light and digital stimulation = stress hormone spike = sugar cravings = fat storage. 

I'll also take an afternoon nap of around 20 minutes any time I feel my energy and cognitive performance flagging. I wake up feeling refreshed and focused for resuming work. I guarantee any heavy hitter out there that my down time is more than made up for with improved productivity for the rest of the work day. 

My goal in sharing this information is to garner awe from my fan base as well as inspire and hopefully assist you with achieving personal health and fitness goals. Please contact me if you have any questions or further interest!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Doping Speculations Never Seem to Go Away

When I see an "unbelievable" athletic performance, I never, ever like to engage in doping speculations because it's not fair to the athlete. It's also extremely likely that an athlete breaking a record or winning a medal is competing on a level playing field with his/her opponents. So if today's Tour de France winner is doping, you can easily conclude that 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th are as well.

I'm making a bit of an exception to speculate about the astonishing new women's 1500m world record achieved by Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba in mid-July at the Monaco Diamond League meet. She ran 1500 meters in 3:50.07 (converts to about a 4:07 mile). She broke the existing record by a few tenths that was held by a Chinese runner for 22 years. Dibaba just won the World Championships at 1500m also. After a slow early pace, she finished the final 800m of the race in 1:56. This is fast enough to win most every Olympics and World Championships at 800m!

The old 1500 meter record of Yunxia Qu record is widely regarded to be one of the most suspect performances in history, and possibly unbreakable due to the more pervasive doping of the past era and better testing of the modern era. Similarly, no one has come anywhere near FloJo's world records of 10.49 for 100 meters and 21.34 for 200 meters, which now stand for 27 years. This includes great runners and confirmed dopers like Marion Jones (10.65 and 21.62 personal bests.).

Yunxia Qu and her coach Ma Junren were widely regarded to be the most suspicious characters in the history of track and field. Ma and a small group of elite Chinese female appeared on the world scene from total obscurity and started obliterating world records left and right. You may recall that when Ma faced scrutiny about doping, he crowed about the women's intense training camps running a ridiculous 175 miles a week, and also how they drank turtle blood for strength. When six runners from Ma's camp failed doping tests before the Sydney Olympics, they vanished from the planet and we have seen extremely minimal representation from Chinese female runners in the elite ranks in the ensuing years.

If you look at the women's all-time 1500 meter performance list, it's pretty much a joke. The top 15 performances (ranging from 3:50 up to a more reasonable 3:55) are populated by the Chinese athletes from the mysterious Ma era, as well as Eastern bloc athletes during the era which has now been confirmed to be absolutely laden with doped athletes, especially female. The record Yunxia Qu broke had itself lasted 13 years, set by a Russian athlete Tatyana Kazankina, affectionately nicknamed "Ted" by cynics of the time.

Dibaba smokes the best women in the world, and then seems barely tired at the finish line? It's almost unbelievable to watch. She credited training with world class men and obtaining excellent coaching from former elite runner Jama Aden for her success. In contrast Shannon Rowbury, who took third in the race in a new American record of 3:56, has worked hard for 7 years to improve her best time from 4:00 in 2008, which marked her initial arrival on the world class scene. She recently took 6th at the World Championships.

The general sense from anti-doping experts and athletes alike is that we are steadily marching toward cleaner sports, more efficient testing methods, more justice for violators as well as those unfairly accused. Even MMA is trying to get cleaned up, with the recent hiring of Jeff Nowitsky to oversee anti-doping, he of BALCO and Lance Armstrong fame. However, with the stakes escalating higher and higher in elite sports, and the sophistication of pharmaceuticals and genetic engineering escalating as well, we will likely be facing these same problems and corresponding suspicious for many years to come.



Hypocrisy and Injustice in High School Athlete Transfer Rules

High school sports gone bad again. This stuff has been going on since my days in Los Angeles in the early 80s. Ridiculous! Let the kids play - grownups quit interfering. Amazing the same governing body trashes this one kid's career, while blatant stuff like this is going on at Calabasas High in LA area - 30 football players transfer over the past couple years.

Here is my letter published in Aug 23 Auburn Journal:

Reader input: CIF goes too far — again




I was extremely disturbed to read of the ineligibility ruling of Colfax High School athlete Justus Spillner. Heads up, I don’t know him, nor am I a supporter of Colfax football. However, the CIF has once again become carried away with the importance of high school sports, enough to irreparably harm the life of a young student-athlete by stealing something that can never be regained: his senior season.

Uprooting from a familiar environment and transferring high schools is never an easy or fun decision for an athlete or family. The CIF ruling that a transfer is “athletically motivated” is a random judgment that could apply to any transfer candidate who participates in sports. What if an ace reporter on the school newspaper transfers to a new school — will she be deemed “journalistically motivated” and forced to sit out a few issues?

Besides, who cares if a transfer is athletically motivated? Our local high school athletes do not have NFL career prospects predicated on achieving competitive balance in their high school leagues.

Furthermore, the CIF’s heavy-handed selective denying of transfer eligibility is comically dwarfed by the reality that we have geographically constrained public schools competing against private schools that are totally unencumbered: they can recruit aggressively, offer tuition scholarships, and draw from all over the metro area.

Theoretically, every member of the Jesuit soccer team attending that school could be “athletically motivated” and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. In recent years, we’ve seen the CIF-SJS shut down Placer football playoffs on a paperwork technicality with a foster youth (thankfully, a judge intervened); we’ve seen elite international youth basketball player Remi Barry banished to the Del Oro sidelines (denying all local players an opportunity to broaden their competitive experience by playing with a top level talent), and now we are sticking it to another kid who followed all the rules but offended someone’s shortsighted and distorted view of competitive fairness. Hey Justus, maybe Jesuit needs a quarterback?

Brad Kearns, Auburn

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Brad's Sports Comments, Edition #3, Jan 2014

Thoroughbreds or Mules? Saw the recent rumors about Steve Nash facing retirement decisions because of nagging injuries. It seems to me that the professional leagues are incredibly stupid in caring for their players - treating them like mules instead of the thoroughbreds that they are. In Nash's case, he broke his leg early last season and then reappeared on court late season complaining of nerve issues in his back and leg. He reportedly got repeated injections to deal with the pain and try to play. Russell Westbrook was knocked out last season with meniscus surgery, came back to start this season, and is now out again with more surgery on the same knee. 

If an elite professional athlete has pain beyond the typical aches and transient pains and bumps and bruises of intense competition, they should rest instead of play, period. Any elite athlete knows the difference too. Instead, these players and teams disregard the future and rush the natural process of healing with objectionable results. It was great to see Derrick Rose take his time recovering from knee surgery, miss the entire 2012 season and return to the court on his own timetable. Alas, his return was perhaps still too hasty (either that or his diet is pro-inflammatory) and he tore the meniscus in his other knee and will likely miss another season.

Lindsey Vonn, in a desperate attempt to get right for the Sochi Olympics after major reconstructive knee surgery, entered a World Cup event and re-aggravated the knee, knocking her out of the Olympics. Might she have been better off just waiting until the Olympics and trying her luck there?

It seems that players in individual sports such as triathlon, golf, track and field and other sports where compensation is largely prize money and performance incentives do a better job respecting pain, injury, rehabilitation and recovery than the athletes who are property of their teams. An individual sport athlete who overrides common sense quickly finds themselves facing a reality where they can't compete, nor eat.

Finally, is a hobbled star player thrust back into action too early really going to perform that much better than a fresh, healthy bench player? In case no one has noticed, the guys on the bench in the major pro leagues are pretty good!


**

Re: Football Imploding: Speaking of my commentary last month about the sport of football possibly going away in the near future due to head injury issue, it's apparent with the implementation of the new "safety rules" what kind of no-win situation football faces. These severe game penalties and subsequent fines for targeting seem to me to be more PR-related than anything. Very, very few players at any level head out to the field looking to intentionally harm an opponent. When you are playing a high speed collision sport, many of the collisions will inevitably end up hitting the wrong surfaces - helmet to helmet or whatever.

What's happening now is that players get penalized, or even ejected and fined for a hit that was perfectly well intentioned and sportsmanlike, but became a penalty due to the randomness of two opposing forces. Continued attempts to "clean up" the game will get more and more random and ridiculous. Consequently, fans, players and teams will become more and more irritated. Perhaps with enough critical mass we will be compelled to move to Plan B, which is flag football or passing league style play.

***

Mike Pigg Flashback
In Mark Allen's book Total Triathlete, he wrote about mindset and training, how important it is to have a brave and fearless mindset. He wrote how on Saturday mornings in Boulder the top triathletes would gather to do a 20-mile Switzerland trail run that is really hilly and challenging. One time Allen relates that he was nervous because he didn't sleep well before and wondered if he could perform to par. He drives to the trailhead in the morning and Pigg is parked there - crashed out in his truck and trailer, having driven all day and all night 1,350 miles from his home in Arcata, CA to Boulder to train for the summer. Pigg grabbed a quick nap in the parking lot and hit it hard with the big boys on the Switzerland trail. Allen related that seeing Pigg take on the challenge despite his difficult circumstances put him into a different mindset.

Pigg and I were both sponsored by Hind Sportswear one year we had a race in Orange County Sunday and then a Tuesday morning sunrise photo shoot on the beach in San Luis Obispo. Pigg was a disappointing 3rd or 4th (sic) at the race. So on Monday afternoon he got dropped off in Malibu, CA and rode about 14 hours to San Luis Obispo via inland route, a distance of 230 miles. He arrived at hotel at 4am and was in the lobby at 5am for the departure to the sunrise shoot.

I had some extra pizza from the night before and offered him some cold pizza slices and he was overjoyed. The shoot took hours of tedious clothing changes and shooting same scenes over and over. He was jumping off sand dunes and having a ball the whole time. There were and are a good number of superhuman physical talents populating the triathlon circuit, but they can't compare to an athlete with a superhuman mindset like Pigg.

PS - his only hitch on the trip was his bike light ran low on batteries so he rode in the pitch dark till he saw vehicle headlights, switched the light on briefly, and then back into pitch dark. 


Incredible High School Basketball Steals and Dunks
This kid Sam Kobrine at Corona Del Mar is only a sophomore and already a far better player than any of his uncles were at the same age...Look at these incredible steals and slam dunks!: