Coaching Excellence Personified

Sid Otton, Tumwater High School, Tumwater, Washington.

49th and final year. 384 wins and counting. 82 more than the second most winning coach in Washington State. More important than the wins, are the lives he has changed by doing it differently than most everyone else.

As Lauren Smith puts it:

“. . . he doesn’t yell, or swear, but consistently works with players on maximizing potential.”

And Paul Alexander:

“He always worked on clarifying just exactly what they needed to do versus what they’d just done — run the play again, let’s keep working on that.”

And Pat Alexander:

“The players’ job is to love each other, and the coaches’ job is to love the players.”

And Matt Hinkle:

“He gives kids a sense of self-worth. He has that ability to pour into you the feeling that you’re the most important piece of what they’re trying to accomplish. And he does that for every kid. There’s tremendous buy-in because of that — you don’t want to disappoint him.”


Photo by Tony Overman.

How To Avoid Weight Gain In Later Life

This post was inspired by reading a forum thread on the subject. Here are two contributions that stood out to me:

The first.

I’m 6’1″ and ran competitively until my early 30’s. You can see what scaling back the running and getting older does.

Age 18: 117
Age 25: 140
Age 35: 160
Age 45 (now): 190

Know what happens between age 35 and 45 when you pretty much quit running? 30 pounds. That’s what happens. Fortunately I have plateaued at right around 190 for the past few years. Not surprisingly people tell me I look better than I did when I was 120lbs and looked “sickly.”

As you get older it is easier to put the weight on, and significantly harder to lose it. I now sport a ‘Dad Bod’ like many guys my age. I’m not an obese slob but I could certainly stand to drop 20 pounds.

The second.

The margin of error disappears after 40. In my 30s, I could pig out now and then without any consequences. Since turning 40, one big desert or dinner and I will gain a pound or two on an otherwise light 5’8″/135-40 lb frame. When i am injured or just lazy, I will very quickly gain weight and level off just below 150. It then takes about 1 month to lose 2 lbs by watching diet and running 50-70 mpw.

As mentioned previously, there is a self regulating aspect to getting old. If I eat a sugary desert and drink a lot of booze at dinner, I will wake up around 3 am feeling like I just drank 3 cups of coffee due to all the sugars suddenly metabolizing. The result is that I rarely have deserts and have cut back a lot on booze.

Three suggestions.

1. Most importantly, decide if it matters. Unless you have a compelling reason or two to not be overweight in later life, you will be, because as the LetsRunners make clear, overtime metabolism slows and self discipline erodes. A double whammy.

I suspect I’m unique in this respect. It’s nice that the Good Wife digs my slender self, but truth be told, my main motivation is running and cycling well. By which I mean maintaining some sort of rhythm running and cycling longish distances with others who still run and cycle pretty damn fast. Even more specifically, I enjoy running and cycling uphill which is hard enough without an extra 5 or 10 lb. pound spare tire.

For most the question is whether a general appreciation for better mobility and physical and mental health is sufficient motivation. Based upon my people watching, it doesn’t appear to be. If you can’t write down a specific and compelling reason or two to avoid weight gain in later life, you may as well skip the rest of this post and enjoy a Big Tom’s milkshake or giant snack of your choice.

2A. Don’t buy your favorite processed sugary snacks and alcohol unless your young adult children are visiting. Also, “they” are right to recommend eating before grocery shopping. “They” are also right to say always use a list.

But even in later life, everything in moderation. I enjoy a beer, or chocolate covered raisins, a piece (or two) of cheesecake, a bowl of ice-cream, but only on days when I’ve burned quite a few more cals than normal. Typically, weekend afternoons after a long or especially hard run or ride. I’ll deny it if you tell her I told you, but the always slender and sexy Gal Pal has a soft spot for Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.

2B. Eat on the road and in restaurants in moderation. Take charge of your food purchasing and prep.

3. Switch your dishes out. I’ve learned the only way I can control my portions is to use smaller bowls. Now it’s to the point where I have winter bowls and summer bowls. Two winter bowls = one summer bowl. In the summer, I cycle further with much greater intensity. Last night, for example, I burned 3K calories on my 54+ mile team ride. I weighed 169 pre-ride, 164 post. This morning’s bowl looked like a replica of Mount Rainier, Raisin Bran, Honey Bunches of Oats, raw oats, washed down with a large smoothie. In a few minutes, pistachios, banana with pb, huge serving of pasta. On the way home from work, pretzels, Cliff Bar, and then I’ll graze before dinner.

It’s painful switching to the winter bowls, which I should probably do a month from now. You would chuckle if you could see me try to max that baby bowl out without having the contents overflow the sides. Like playing Operation, the key is the first, delicate spoonful. Winter also means next to no desserts, very little beer, no joy in Mudville. And I still gain a little weight.


RIO 16—Ignorance Is Bliss

Watching the Olympics is great fun if you can. . .

• block out that NPR report on how violence has spiked in Rio’s favelas since the Games began

• block out how little ordinary Brazilians will benefit from hosting the games

• block out how crazy the idea is that because someone happens to live within the same political borders as a medal winner they feel much better about themself

• record the 100m final and watch it in slow mo

• trust everyone will forget Hope-less Solo’s post game comments

• pretend everyone is succeeding purely based upon intense training, lots of sleep, and fruits and veggies

• block out the inevitable future drug test results and associated medal swapping

• watch a Canadian channel, and see what it’s like to appreciate, not take for granted, athletic excellence (for U.S. readers to get a feel for this, imagine if your state was a country)

• forgive the Canadian swimming analyst for thinking Ryan Lochte was in the lead for 190 meters of the 200IM

• time it so that you’re home alone with the labradude and can freely marvel at the diversity of bodies, like Olga Rypakova’s (6’0″ 137lb triple jumper) and Sarah Robles’s (5’10”, 273lb weightlifter)





If You’re Not Happy, And You Know It

Long before the Republican nominee for President entered politics, he was the public figure I disliked the most. Visceral antipathy for a self-centered man who embodies the worst excesses of U.S. popular culture. Exactly what we don’t need in a candidate for any sort of office, let alone the Presidency. His wealth doesn’t impress me. I wouldn’t want to play golf with him, work for him, or have him represent me on Olympia’s city council.

Believe it or not, there are sane Republicans in our midst, so how does one make sense of the Republican Party nominating him? Historically, the R’s have emphasized personal responsibility (too often at the exclusion of institutional racism and other limiters, but I digress). Most R’s believe their life circumstances are largely determined by daily decisions to get a quality education, develop marketable skills, respect the laws of the land, and out work others. That’s John Kasich Republicanism.

And yet 14 million R’s fell for a counter explanation for why they’re not prospering. The Republican nominee for President substituted the dire threats posed by illegal immigrants and Muslims for personal responsibility for economic advancement and public safety and tens of millions mindlessly abandoned their party’s core values. Possibly the quickest, most radical, and disheartening political transformation of a major party in our nation’s history.

In the past week, as a blessed respite from this dystopian novel of an election, the polls and associated headlines finally show slippage in support for arrogance and divisiveness.

And yet, I can’t celebrate this positive turn of events because even if the Republican candidate for President withdraws today or tomorrow, he will have accomplished more than I thought possible. In fact, so much that it leaves me questioning whether my fellow citizens are as rationale, welcoming, and hopeful as I always assumed. When he withdraws (power of positive thinking) or loses, I will not be joining in the racuous celebrations that will spontaneously erupt across the fruited plains. I’ll be too busy rethinking what I thought to be true about my fellow citizens.

A Long Way to Go

Despite the demagogues rhetoric, the U.S. is becoming more inclusive. In part because of changing demograpics. Nearly eight years ago, we elected our first African American President. Then we re-elected him.

Odds are we’re going to elect our first female President this November. When though, will we elect our second female President? Our second African American? Our first Latino or Latina? Second Latino or Latina?

A conservative friend writes me and says this election shouldn’t have anything to do with gender. Only excellence. I guess I’m supposed to believe it’s a crazy coincidence that forty four times in a row a man has been most excellent just as one could flip a coin forty four times and have it come up heads everytime. Sure, that’s plausible.

Only when we join the following list will candidates’ gender start to fade in importance.

Countries that have had more than one female leader (includes acting, interim leaders etc)^

Switzerland (6) Six presidents*
Sri Lanka (3) One president, two prime ministers
Haiti (3) One president, two prime ministers
Finland (3) One president, two prime ministers
South Korea (3) Two prime ministers, one president
Lithuania (3) One president, two prime ministers
Argentina (2) Two presidents
Bangledesh (2) Two prime ministers
Central African Republic (2) One president, one prime minister
Guyana (2) One president, one prime minister*
Iceland (2) One president, one prime minister
India (2) One president, one prime minister
Ireland (2) Two presidents
Israel (2) One president, one prime minister
Liberia (2) Two presidents
Philippines (2) Two presidents
New Zealand (2) Two prime ministers
São Tomé and Príncipe (2) Two prime ministers
Sengal (2) Two prime ministers

*Switzerland has seen six female presidential terms, though two of those were held by the same woman. Guyana’s tally is also debatable, since their female prime minister and female president were the same person.

^ Source