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Fred & The Anti-Stress

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Randy Wilson


It’s June.  Most of the tv addled golfers have forgotten April, thanks to a severely damaged attention span, one of the gifts of the modern technocracy.  But the stress merely continues to build through June and then the heat of July.  Some areas will suffer from freight-train rain, while others endure a seemingly endless hot, dry bubble of desert air.   Add in a few members just back from a member-guest with all sorts of ideas they picked up in an entirely different budget climate--or my favorite, the member on a campaign to bring in “new blood”. 

Stress rises when your spousal unit announces the kids don’t recognize you anymore and have grown weary of the excessive hours and vacations in the winter.  Especially vacations shortened because some of the time off has to be sacrificed on the altar of The Big Show.  There is only one way to combat this stress and it’s not beer. It’s fitness. 

Our topic today is fitness for the GCS and the rest of the turf industry professionals.  The GCS comes first in this subject as they often get more than their share of the stress, but there is plenty to go around.  Now I know there are folks who say there is much more stress in other fields, like law enforcement, medicine and the military, but some of those areas have a built in stress relief factor, like great big bursts of adrenaline, flash-bangs, helicopters and running and jumping.  

Turf does not have adrenal bursts—unless you count unannounced, unsanctioned visits by consultants with a column of former assistants in tow, all looking for a GCS job.

that hilarious side effect where you wake up in the middle of the night and discover you're robbing a grocery store.

So let’s toughen up and prepare to deal with stress in a healthy manner, rather than beer, likker or Big Pharma.  Your brain can generate it’s own Big Pharma and it’s unlikely to kill you, destabilize your family or impart that hilarious side effect where you wake up in the middle of the night and discover you’re robbing a grocery store.  Let’s talk fitness and training.  *Note:  The following pseudo-science comes straight from Sgt. Rock Bottum and his years of training in multiple sports, both as an athlete and a coach.  (Sgt. Rock’s credentials will be revealed in a later article.)

 When choosing a sport or activity for stress relief there are several factors to consider.  An important factor is Sustainability.  I know you’ve heard that word before, but in this context, it’s easy to define:  It means a sport or training activity that you can keep going over the long term.  While the 90 day wonder-workout may provide a great “jump-start” into a training lifestyle, it can come with injuries and that day when you realize you just don’t want to go “do it” anymore.

Next, it is important to select a sport you like and train for an event, a race, a contest, or just an adventure.  This “adventure” could entail hiking a section of a long trail or maybe an epic ski trip.   Often, we choose a sport, get comfortable with it, progress to the level of obsession and then burn out like a sparkler sizzling at both ends.  It’s important to consider more than one obsession, in case of injury or mental fatigue from the level of dedication required.

Endorphins are critical.  Endorphins are opiates produced by your brain after around 30 minutes of activity where your heart rate is elevated.  The resultant “high” from an endorphin kick has the ability to blow out the stress of the day and make you forget whatever it was you were worried about.  Some sports, like cycling, running, swimming and others of the aerobic type, come with huge doses of endorphin blasts to the brain.  You must be careful with these brain opiates.

My brother Mike, a former Army Ranger, was given to huge endorphin surges, after long road bike rides and his wife took advantage of the situation.  Mike once woke up, after a fearsome bike ride of 60 miles, to find himself shopping for shoes with Teresa, and holding not only her purse, but those of other spousal units who recognized Mike’s condition.  (Goofy smile, relaxed demeanor and unfocused eyes.)

Load bearing vs non-load bearing sports. 

Load bearing activities would include running, hiking, weight lifting and the like.  Non-load bearing would mean cycling, swimming, rowing and things where you aren’t supporting your own weight.  This is critical, especially as you age.  Why?  Because of bone density.  With brittle bones, you can become like the old folks who fall down and break hips and femurs.  A few years back, there was a medical study on the bone density of Tour de France riders.  Samples taken before and after the race revealed a massive loss of bone density, in some cases almost a 50% loss.  This does not happen with long distance runners, although they have their own difficulties, usually due to overuse injuries.

Aerobic (which is some foreign language that means “with oxygen” and Anaerobic, “without oxygen”) are two important factors.  Aerobic could mean an activity like slow jogging, cycling at a speed where you can still talk, or rowing for an hour at a pace where your heart isn’t trying to explode out of your chest.  Anaerobic is high heart rate, short term burst activity like sprinting or high rep lifting with no breaks.  Sometimes referred to as “interval” training, this type of work can be very beneficial, if carefully mixed with aerobic training and common sense.  (I had none of that last one.) 

Check with your doctor before you go anaerobic, or if you’re like most of us since the unaffordable care act, make sure your affairs are in order.

Here at The Rock, we have always used a seasonal approach, changing sports as the weather changes.  Blending walking with cycling and hiking and running and gym time--when it’s really hot or doing that endless monsoon thing--has worked for us.  You can also walk the course in the morning before the crew gets out, combining the walk with your morning scout.  Wear a daypack and walk fast if you want some endorphins, because normal walking, while healthy, will not endow you with much in the brain opiate area.

don't take your skinny-tired road bike out on the cart path unless you're in the mood to grow some new skin.

If you run the course, stay off the hard surfaces, as the pounding from that activity—unless you are a nearly perfect mid or forefoot striker—can lead to ankle, knee and back pain.  Running your turf is  great training and less impact than trail running.  It’s possible to ride your mountain bike on the paths early, without seeing golfers, but don’t take your skinny-tired road bike out there on the cart path unless you're in the mood to grow some new skin.

Which sport or training activity is right for you, the high tech GCS?  I don’t know, try several and find out which one rings your bell.  I’ll be showing you some training methods as the 100 days go by.  Here’s one featuring Fred Gehrisch, CGCS, a regular cast member of Rockbottum CC, and an avid martial artist.  Fred trains at Your Time Fitness in Clayton, Georgia and allowed us to film his Anti-Stress Method.

Fred trains solo for an hour and then teaches a fun, lighthearted but tough kick-boxing class.  We slipped in during a holiday period, when the class numbers are usually down, and shot this film on GCS Anti-Stress.


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