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September 18, 2014

“The difference between try and triumph is a little UMPH.” – @Sports_Greats

Below is a summary of Parsha (Torah Portion) Nitzavim-Vayelech from

The Parshah of Nitzavim includes some of the most fundamental principles of the Jewish faith:

The unity of Israel: “You stand today, all of you, before the L‑rd your G‑d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and every Israelite man; your young ones, your wives, the stranger in your gate; from your wood-hewer to your water-drawer.”

The future redemption: Moses warns of the exile and desolation of the Land that will result if Israel abandons G‑d’s laws, but then he prophesies that in the end, “You will return to the L‑rd your G‑d . . . If your outcasts shall be at the ends of the heavens, from there will the L‑rd your G‑d gather you . . . and bring you into the Land which your fathers have possessed.”

The practicality of Torah: “For the mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

Freedom of choice: “I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil: in that I command you this day to love G‑d, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments . . . Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life.”

The Parshah of Vayelech (“And He Went”) recounts the events of Moses’ last day of earthly life. “I am one hundred and twenty years old today,” he says to the people, “and I can no longer go forth and come in.” He transfers the leadership to Joshua, and writes (or concludes writing) the Torah in a scroll which he entrusts to the Levites for safekeeping in the Ark of the Covenant.

The mitzvah of hak’hel (“gather”) is given: every seven years, during the festival of Sukkot of the first year of the shemittah cycle, the entire people of Israel—men, women and children—should gather at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where the king should read to them from the Torah.

Vayelech concludes with the prediction that the people of Israel will turn away from their covenant with G‑d, causing Him to hide His face from them, but also with the promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants.”

I am not sure where this Blog is going to go, but I do have an idea of the message, now I need to try getting it across to all my readers.

I will start with a few scenarios/ stories:

  1. Running last week I passed 2 ladies dressed in the latest Lulu Lemon gear walking at a snail pace and drinking coffee. I think one was talking on her phone.
  2. Doing a FARTLEK (Interval training session) last week, I think I may have pushed a bit hard at the beginning. I still had one interval to do and was thinking to myself should I try push myself to do the interval or just coast home?
  3. Reading the race wrap of triathlete Tim Reed from the Ironman 70.3 Word Champs. Tim mentioned that due to a poor transition he was behind the main group on his bike. He was trying to decide that if he ups his power on the bike, how this will impact his run as he knew his optimum wattage (power usage) to do a good run.
  4. Reading an article on a presentation by Dr Tim Noakes on fatigue. Two points he raised:
    1. Why do champion athletes win by milliseconds?; and
    2. How does an athlete like e.g. Haile Gebrasalesie who has pushed the limits in a 10km race and is fatigued, run the fastest time for the final kilometre?

In this week’s Parsha Moshe says, “You are standing today, all of you….”

This week I may go overboard with quotes, but enjoy…

African Proverb: “You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you” – Rwanda

After doing some research on what Dr Tim Noakes says on Fatigue. I will try explaining and quoting some of what I have read.

Conventional wisdom has told us that fatigue from prolonged exertion comes about through depletion of some sort – depletion of oxygen, depletion of carbohydrates – or a buildup of lactic acid. However, if this were true, distance runners should collapse at the end of a long distance if their stores of oxygen or fuel were depleted. In fact, if they were to run long enough, they should just drop dead. While there have been a few rare instances of that happening, they are very, very rare. Many runners, in spite of their fatigue, will experience a surge of energy as they near the finish line. If their fatigue were due to depletion, they should not be able to have such a surge. In addition, the tendency to feel fatigue commonly occurs no matter what the length of the race. Those who run 10K feel it near the end of their run; those who run marathons feel it near the end of their run. No matter the distance, the sensation of fatigue is common near the end of a run as is the surge of energy when the finish line is in sight. How can this be explained if the sensation of fatigue comes from depletion?

Dr. Noakes proposes that rather than depletion, the feeling of fatigue is generated by the brain as a protective mechanism. He reasons that if the brain allowed the body to push itself to depletion, we would die or come close to dying when we exerted ourselves. This would work against our survival. He believes that the brain creates the sensation of fatigue long before depletion in order to protect the body and that understanding this can help a runner overcome fatigue and improve their performance. This he call the Central Governor Theory[1].

This is Mind over Matter? The Central Governor Theory Explained – the brain may play a more important role in race potential than athletes have typically considered. Noakes’s hypothesis suggests that the brain acts as a central governor when racing, limiting our ability to push beyond perceived fatigue to ensure self-preservation[2].

“Willpower is known as the queen of all virtues.” ~ @_Brian_Johnson

“The great barrier is the mental hurdle.” –Roger Bannister

As this week’s Parsha Moshe speaks to each of us individuals. Each of us as Rabbi Chanan says have our own HEART, HEAD AND CHARACTER TRAITS. We all have differing abilities and resolve to push ourselves in all that we do. Some of us just want to get out and do exercise, but not really push ourselves, other like me want to get through our workouts to the best of our abilities (and try not to give up or get dropped) and others like Champion athletes Tim Reed and Haile Gebrasalesie are competing to go as fast as possible and win races or set world marks. Their abilities and will power (Heart & Mind of a Champion) allow them to push themselves harder than most for the run in a triathlon or the last km in a 10km race.

“Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision” – Muhammad Ali

"Shut Up Legs" - Jens VoigtTo end I have just read an article on the Cyclist Jens Voigt. Jens has ridden 17 Tour De Frances and is 42 years old. He is aiming later this week to try setting a new hour record on his bike. Jens has been made famous by his signature phrase or battle cry – “Shut Up Legs”. His message is always the same: “Keep attacking, keep going, keep hurting for the win — no matter the pain”. His style and attitude has inspired so many to love him and make him a true cycling original. As Jens plans his retirement post attempting this record he said – “Me, the Track, my Bike and my old friend” Pain” we gonna battle it out tomorrow for one last time.”[3]

As Rosh Hashanah approaches we all need that extra UMPH we all need that “Shut up Legs” attitude of not giving up. I think this is one of the messages of the Shofar. Rabbi Sacks puts it so well – “When we cry from the heart, G-d listens. That’s the shofar’s message on RH. #Thoughts4Elul”. The Shofar gives EACH of us the UMPH of a Champion, the UMPH to up the tempo, the UMPH to finish strong and the UMPH to change.

Wishing all my readers a Ktiva V’Chatima Tova (May you be inscribed for a good year). May the sound of the Shofar welcome a new year of peace, prosperity, health, happiness, laughter and love.




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