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Something to Cheer About While the Economy and Nearly Everything Else Tanks: A Superb New Book

June 28, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 155

The news is really grim these days. No, not "very large meteor heading this way" kind of grim or "Al-Qaeda terrorist group gets nuclear weapons supergrim" or, worst imaginable scenario of doom but still quite grim. Grimness includes Bernanke going Greek tragedy on us, forecasting anemic growth, hiring approaching Depression-era levels, Congressional budget talks going nowhere, politicians sending body part pics to strangers, debt ceiling immovable with attendant default fears, housing in the dumps, flooding here, volcanoes, fires, drought and tsunamis there and so on. What's next - the Rapture?

Fortunately, all this is offset to a considerable extent by the publication of Dr. Steven Jonas' latest book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Healthy Learning/ Coaches Choice, Monterrey, CA., 118 pages, $19.95). This is the much-anticipated sequel to the landmark work "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals." The latter led thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of novice athletes into the sport of triathlon, rendering the experience both enjoyable as well as successful.

In 101 Ideas, Dr. Jonas serves up comprehensive guidance with factual information and insights based on his extensive involvement with triathlon and its little sister sport, duathlon. (The latter, in case you didn't know, consists of a run, bike and run. I don't care for the name so much. Since the swim is missing, I favor "dryathlon." However, nobody listens to me so duathlon it is.) The nine chapters address motivation (i.e., why exercise, race and "tri the tri and du?"), getting started, variety of race options, training, equipment, race day details and strategies, nutrition, injury prevention and management and staying with it. Each chapter has from five to twenty sub-chapters pertinent to the featured topics. If you have a question about how to prepare for a triathlon or duathlon that Dr. Jones has not addressed, you are probably worrying too much. Read 101 Ideas and you can safety, assuredly and productively be happy with no worry in either or both of these two exciting sporting events.

While every page has tidbits and, as often as not, big chunks of material attractive for the experienced as well as the novice multi-sport participant, all readers will have their own favorite sections. Among mine were the following:

* The discussion about getting started. Everyone, without exception, was a novice at one time. In fact, one of the most popular (i.e., most participant) categories in recent years has been the exclusive, much cheered novice category. Unfortunately for those who have a wonderful experience racing their first tri or du in the novice division, you can only be part of this elite group one time. Choose your event wisely - in some races, the management makes first timers feel like rock stars.

* The principles for training. Dr. Jonas offers eight of them, all broad and common sense in nature (e.g., regular rest is key) but easily neglected.

* Detailed training programs for varied distance multi-sport events. Many beginning and even experienced athletes just make up their own routines or go along with others. Ad hoc routines are seldom as efficient or effective as evidence-based regiments such as Dr. Jonas offers for all level participants.

* A sense for the costs of being a triathlete and/or duathlete. These costs, estimated in the range of $1400 to $2500, will vary enormously in accord with one's budget and ambitions. This range, however, is fair enough for the entry-level participant for whom the book is primarily intended.

* The occasional special treat. There are many throughout the work, but my favorite came on idea number 77 wherein Dr. Jonas describes the fascinating happenings known only to those like him at the back of the pack. The last point made says it all: "Finally, it's so much better to be at the back of the pack than to not be in the race at all." Even my wellness hero Robert Green Ingersoll would have been challenged to say it better.

* Idea number 73. Dr. Jonas describes his experience in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2009 at the National Sprint Triathlon Championship. As long as there are triathlons, this race will be recalled for the infamous "uphill swim" all participants had to endure. Not the strongest or fastest swimmer in the world, Dr. Jonas entertainingly describes his two-hour-plus ordeal fighting a current of Biblical proportion, so to speak. I was in that race, and had quite a struggle with the current (caused by the opening of a dam upriver), but not quite so much as the good doctor. When I entered the transition area after the bike ride, he was entering after the swim! Yet, here what I most vividly recall: Though I was about half a morning ahead of him, Dr. Jonas was having a great time, smiling and being all cheerful whereas I was breathing heavily, stressed and in a foul mood! And he had the nerve to try to cheer me up! And he did! After the race and ever since, it's clear to me who between the two of us has more fun doing triathlons. He does. Recalling that occasion, however, I have worked on lightening up.

Finally, mention should be made of the personal nature of how information is conveyed in 101 Ideas. Dr. Jonas has so much experience - he has completed over 200 races. In a tri and du career that began in 1983 at Sag Harbor, NY in an event called "The Mighty Hamptons Triathlon" (sounds a bit intimidating to me), he has come to know nearly all the main characters that have shaped multi-sport. This knowledge shows on every page, in anecdotes and illustrations and, most enjoyably, in countless asides of personal perspective. Dr. Jonas does not regret or shy from the fact that he is not the world record-setting type; au contraire, he revels in it. By the end of the book, readers might think to themselves, "Hey, if this old guy can do triathlons and duathlons and enjoy the two sports so much, I think I can do OK at this, too," or thoughts along those lines.

If that's what readers think, nobody will be happier about it than Dr. Jonas.

Publisher of the ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT (AWR) - a weekly electronic newsletter devoted to commentaries on current issues that affect personal and social well being from a quality of life perspective. The emphasis is on REAL wellness, which is also the topic of Don's latest 12 minute video interview on YouTube - The "REAL" acronym reflects key issues embraced and advanced in Don's philosophy, namely, Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism and Liberty. Sample copy of Don's latest edition by request. If you like it, you can sign up - the price is right - free. Contact Don at

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