Stay focused, stay alive!

By Cathleen London, M.D., P.C.
Board Certified Family Medicine Physician

Runners, bicyclists and even walkers who let their minds wander may put themselves in harm’s way.

When we run or bicycle for any length of time, it is easy for our minds to wander. If we are out on the streets in the early morning, we may be tempted to mentally prepare for the rest of our day. If we are exercising after work, we may be re-playing a stressful incident. While letting our thoughts drift as we run or bicycle may seem like a healthy way to reduce stress, it is important to remember that the roads can be hazardous. Too often, drivers and others are not as focused as they should be. So while we may strive to be in the ”zone”, we also have to concentrate on our bodies and surroundings, and not allow our minds to become foggy as we exercise.

As a triathlon participant, I understand that a distracted runner or bicyclist is a danger to herself and those around her. If she gets so engrossed in her thoughts that she stumbles and possibly causes others to fall, or she fails to hear an approaching vehicle, it can be disastrous. Common injuries of runners hit by cars include injuries to the spinal cord and brain, as well as broken bones.

When you share the road with other athletes and/or vehicles, your complete focus should be in the present. Although listening to music while exercising can be motivational and help to ease the monotony, be sure that the volume is set to a level that enables you to remain conscious of your environment, other runners, bicyclists and drivers.

Additionally, there is data that supplementation with the pure form of L-theanine, called Suntheanine, can help. It helps you to relax and to stay focused. If you are working out to relieve stress (a practice that I highly recommend), start with 200 mgs of L-theanine every four hours to see how it helps you maintain your focus and attention while easing your tension or anxiety levels. Additional information about the benefits can be found at www.nostress.com.

Remaining alert will do more than keep you safe. It will help you pay closer attention to your form so that you get the most benefit from each workout or training session. Better training will give you better results, which can motivate and inspire you to go back out and do it again the next day.

Biography — Dr. Cathleen London

Cathleen London, M.D., is a board certified family medicine physician. As such, her practice encompasses the entire family, including all ages, both sexes, and any health problems that may arise. Family Medicine is the first specialty that requires board recertification by written exam every 7 years. As a result, many believe that family physicians are best qualified to serve as each patient’s advocate in all health-related matters, including use of consultants, health services, and community resources.

Dr. London believes in an integrative, holistic approach to healthcare which utilizes a combination of western, allopathic medicine, diet and lifestyle modification, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines when appropriate.

She earned her medical degree from Yale University and completed her residency in family medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. Her pre-medical requirements were completed at Stanford University.

Dr. London began her career as an actress and model after receiving her undergraduate degree in theater arts and computer science from Brown University.

”The one constant,” she says, ”was interest in the human body.”

In 2007, at age 45, Dr. London decided to become more serious about her own fitness. Having achieved the goal of returning to her pre-childbearing body, she decided to train for and start competing in triathlons. Dr. London chose triathlon as a sport due to its being well-rounded: swim, bike and run. Though a competitive college athlete, her prior sports were skiing and fencing — none of the three involved in triathlon. Her decision to ramp up to a new fitness level was both for herself and as an example to others. Given that her training regimen is 10-15 hours per week (on top of a full time practice and motherhood) it is hard for others to tell her they do not have 3 hours to go to the gym etc.

Dr. London completed her first triathlon season in 2008, competing in sprint and Olympic distance races. She has also volunteered for several races, during which she learns about the effects that these events have on the human body. For 2010 she has 2 Olympic distance and 2 half iron distance races planned thus far. Her 2008 race participation included:

  1. Hangover Classic, Salisbury, MA
  2. Wildman Triathlon, Orlando, FL
  3. Boston Marathon, Boston, MA (volunteer)
  4. Mooseman Triathlon, Hanover, NH (completed half marathon)
  5. Cohasset Sprint, Cohasset, MA
  6. Sobe Mossman Sprint, Norwalk, CT
  7. SheRoxTri, Philadelphia, PA
  8. Accenture Olympic, Chicago, IL

Her 2009 race schedule included:

  1. Indoor Bike Trial Series: February 1, February 8, March 1, March 22
  2. Super Sunday 5k/10k
  3. Boston Marathon, Boston, MA (volunteer)
  4. St. Anthony’s (Olympic distance)
  5. Mooseman Triathlon, Hanover, NH (Olympic)
  6. Patriot Half Iron
  7. Swim Across America
  8. Gloucester Sprint
  9. Timberman 70.3
  10. Duxbury Sprint

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