“Thanks for thinking”

July 7, 2008 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Teton Mountains

I just returned home after a week of high-altitude livin’ in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Two great runs bookended my trip: On day one of my vacation in Jackson, I went for a light and easy morning jog to stretch my legs. Twenty minutes into my jaunt through the neighboring community of Wilson (population: 1,300; elevation: 6,100 feet), I looked up at Teton Pass, the mountain road that climbs 2,200 vertical feet at grades of up to 10 percent and cuts through the rugged range that divides the Equality State from the Gem State, and was overwhelmed with a curiosity to run to the top. (In summers past I have busted my quads riding my bike to the summit, but this was my first attempt to run it.) A breathtaking view of the valley floor from an elevation of 8,400 feet was my reward. Incredible.

This run was just a warm-up for when I would play King of the Mountain(s) at the end of my vacation. Starting from Teton Village (elevation: 6,300 feet) at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, I darted up a trail that wraps its way to the top of Apres Vous Mountain (8,500 feet), then crossed over and trekked up to the tippity snow-capped top of Rendezvous Mountain (10,500 feet), and then descended just a wee-bit to Gondola Summit (9,000 feet). This epic trail run sometimes seemed like a Sisyphian challenge (especially the trudge up the steep, slippery, and bowl-shaped Sublette chutte), but was ultimately — because of the difficulty of the trek, the views afforded from the mountain peaks, the wildlife that I found myself surrounded by, and the quiet solitude of such an adventure  — the highlight of my trip.

Having just returned home, I want to share some noteworthy news items from the past week that I am just now having a chance to catch-up on:

** Philosophy Talk, one of my favorite local radio programs, gets some much deserved recognition, courtesy of the L.A. Times article, Yeah, these philosophy professors will give it some thought. “Thank you for thinking.”

** Gretchen Reynolds of the NYT highlights an important and oft overlooked concern about the health of endurance athletes: The sometimes obsessive weight iusses of male and female athletes:

In [a] study published earlier this year in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 223 Swedish Olympians (125 men and 98 women) were weighed, measured and asked about their eating habits. The thinner athletes, many of them from endurance sports, reported more episodes of wild weight swings and eating disorders than other athletes. Even more startling was that the eating and weight problems were most common among the thin male athletes. The women didn’t worry about their weight nearly as much. In fact, according to Dr. Hagmar Magnus, a physician at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm and the study’s lead author, “the female Olympians ate a lot and planned meals well. The men didn’t.”

Magnus says the lessons of the study are broad. For one, “we’ve all been paying a great deal of attention to female athletes, trying to help them avoid eating disorders,” he says. “We need to start doing that for men.”

In addition, “the best female athletes in Sweden eat quite well, which suggests that good eating is a real competitive advantage,” Magnus says. “As a physician, I see many female athletes, not quite so elite, who have eating problems. That may be what has kept them from the top ranks. I’d love to get the message to them, you can eat your way to greatness.”

** Walking book clubs?! Exercise the mind and the body to maximize cognitive and bodily health, says Dr. Arthur Kramer, Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois, in this interview with Alvaro Fernandez of SharpBrains.

** And follow-this up with another fascinating AF/SharpBrains discussion about why and how smart people do really dumb things, like the Harvard students who paid $204 for a $20 bill. Wha?! Ori Brafman, co-author of Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, explains “the different hidden forces” and “psychological undercurrents” of our decision making processes here.

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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