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50 Interviews with 50 Athletes — Just another WordPress weblog

Major Revelation!

by Don on October 4, 2009

In the process of interviewing the athletes over 50 that I’ve spoken to, I have come to the conclusion that they lead lives that they love, and a major reason for this is that they have found a sport of physical activity that they LOVE. While interviewing Gene Wilken, an 81 year old tennis player, Gene asked me why we love our sports so much. At the time, I had no answer. I went back and polled the athletes that I had already interviewed and got lots of great responses. I did my best to take those responses and categorize them, resulting in 17 categories. These categories were:

feeling of lightness

feeling of freedom

physical challenge

mental challenge

social interaction

competition

exciting ride

feeling of accomplishment

feeling of peace

physical benefits

rythm

physical sensation

endorphin rush

simplicity

reconnection to youth

satisfaction

feeling of focus and absorption

I found that of these, the ones that occurred in the responses the most were those that we don’t tend to get from other sources. The highest rated reasons were:

physical challenge – 32%

competition – 32%

exciting ride – 28%

physical benefits – 28%

physical sensation – 32%

This was interesting, but I was not satisfied that I understood why we love our sports so much. It seems the responses were so varied, I wasn’t satisfied.

Last Thursday I went to a talk by John Ratey, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University. Dr. Ratey was talking about his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. I went to this talk because it is something I know very little about and I thought maybe Dr. Ratey could shed some light on the question of Why.

Among other things, Dr. Ratey talked about how we come from a lineage of hunter-gatherers and endurance predators. He said that 10,000 years ago, our ancestors would travel on average about 14 miles a day. Since then, we have created technology at an amazing pace through our ability to reason, and have eliminated the need for such physical activity for our survival.

Dr. Ratey explained that our genes have not changed much in the last 10,000 years, and we still carry with us many instincts from the millions of years of evolution that brought us to where we are today.

Dr. Ratey went on to explain that play is one of those instincts, and that it is an essential nutrient for our survival. All animals play, and this is well documented. This instinct to play has a crucial role in preparing the participant for the unpredictable and ambiguous challenges that survival throws our way.

Bingo! That is it….That is why we love our sports. The instinct to play is a deeply ingrained instinct! I now believe that the athletes I’ve interviewed have harness the primal gift of the instinct to play. The reasons that they love to play is very complex because our bodies response to play is very complex. Play is supposed to be complex in order to prepare us for the . This is a major revelation for me. I believe that I now understand Why.

Like anyone who has a Ph.D., now that I understand why we love our sports, I have to ask why we all don’t have the same level of love for physical activity as the athletes over 50 that I interviewed. Now my quest for the answer to that question begins, and I think I have some ideas already. I want to find some scientific data to back up or refute my ideas, so I will be working on that next. I would love to hear what you think about my latest revelation, whether you agree or disagree, and whatever else you have for me as feedback. Again, I see this as a major personal revelation, one that will probably influence my book significantly.

Thanks Dr. Ratey!

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The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full interview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the status of the book, use the widget at the bottom right of this page to subscribe.

Gerard Moreno Geared Up

Gerard Moreno Geared Up

Gerard Going For It!

Gerard Going For It!

Gerard Moreno is a 52 year old Paralympian who lives in Los Angeles, California, where he operates his own accounting business. Gerard played many sports while growing up including football, track and field, skiing, and fencing. At the age of 18, he suffered a gunshot injury, which left him partially paralyzed. After about six months, Gerard ventured out and tried playing wheelchair basketball with a team at the hospital he went to. Gerard enjoyed seeing that he could enjoy sports again, despite his injury, and went on to take up snow skiing, water skiing, tennis, downhill off-road wheelchair racing, scuba diving, and fencing. Doing these sports grew Gerard’s self-confidence, and has led to a life full of fun and adventure. These days his focus is on basketball, off-road racing, and fencing. Gerard has been on the United States Paralympic fencing team three times, and won numerous national championships. I found my interview with Gerard to be very inspiring because Gerard not only has an extremely positive attitude, but he also has made it his purpose to give back to the newly injured who are transitioning into their new lives. Gerard has learned how to adapt to new situations, considers this one of his strengths, and works to pass this lesson on. Gerard feels truly blessed to be part of a national team and the Paralympics’ team, and finds joy in other people and being on this earth.

I heard back from Jack Lalanne, and due to an exclusive agreement Jack has with a publisher, he cannot contribute to my book. Hey, I tried – “Dream Big” you know. OK, so onward and upward.

I’m excited about a talk I’m going to tonight by Dr. John Ratey called, “Exercise and the Brain – a crucial connection.” I’ll post about it next week, so stay tuned.

I’m also very excited about a multi-media video I’m putting together that features some of the athletes I’ve interviewed. It will premier on 10/24 at a book release and 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge launch event I’m holding in Fort Collins, Colorado. I can’t wait, although there is a lot to do between now and 10/24.

Last night I spoke to Murray Hornick from Murrells Inlet, SC because he won a drawing I held for people who joined the 50-k Challenge on 50-k.net before 9/21. He won a copy o fmy book and a 50-k T-shirt. You can get the book on this site, and the T-shirt at 50-k.net if you’re interested. Murray’s goal is to run 50 marathon in 50 different US states. Wow! He told me of a mentor he has in his home town who is a dentist and still practices dentistry full-time at age 84. Besides that, he has run 120 marathons, one of them last year. Thanks Murray, and all of you who keep me inspired. Dream Big!

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50 interviews completed, and by the way, does anyone know Jack Lalanne?

September 28, 2009

On Friday September 25th at noon, I interviewed Suzy Devers who is an in-line and ice speed-skater. Suzy is the 50th athlete over 50 that I have interviewed, and this is a major milestone for me and this project. My first interview took place on May 26th with Carl Bamforth, also an in-line skater interestingly enough. [...]

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Don McGrath – Surfing Serendipity’s Waves

September 23, 2009

Since I just got back from vacation, I thought I’d take a detour away from writing about athletes over 50, and focus this post on a topic that I am the world expert on – ME! Most of you who read this blog, haven’t met me in person, although maybe we’ve talked on the phone.  I hope [...]

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Dave Dyc – a.k.a. Lucky, feels lucky to live on the ocean

September 21, 2009

The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full interview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the [...]

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Bruce Runnels – Cycling for health, fitness, and enjoyment

September 17, 2009

The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full interview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the [...]

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Diane Jones-Bolton – Taking the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge

September 13, 2009

This past week I hit a couple major milestones in this project. The 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge passed the 100 member mark. I want to that all of you who have joined and helped spread the word. Please keep it up.
I also launched the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge website – www.50-k.net. The objective of the site is [...]

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Don Sherrill – Good old fashion hard work

September 10, 2009

The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full intreview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the [...]

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Robbi Young – Why can’t I?

September 8, 2009

The following is a brief profile of one of the interviewees in the upcoming book, Dream It, Live It, Love It. The full intreview and insights gained by the author will be shared in the book to be published at a future date. To see future interviewee profiles via email and to stay updated on the [...]

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Linda Quirk – Dream Big!

September 3, 2009

I’m excited that my first book, featuring 10 interviews with athletes over 50, is finished and available. I might have been voted amongst the least likely to write  a book in my high school class, but so far the feedback I’ve received from people who’ve read it has been fantastic! You can order it as e-book or [...]

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