Sunday, December 30, 2012

On Resolutions and Bucket Lists

A friend recently posted on Facebook: "My Bucket List excludes any activity that might result in the premature kicking of said bucket." His examples of excluded activities included bungee jumping, skydiving, and running with the bulls.

"He's such a tease," says Virginia, "saying what he's excluding. What's left?"

May I suggest:

1. Run a marathon. Oops. A recent study suggests that folks who run more than 25 miles per week risk cardiac abnormalities that shorten lifespans. Check out:

2. Run a 6-minute (or 5-minute) mile. Whoa. Another recent study mentioned in the same Wall Street Journal article indicates that runners who move faster than 8 miles per hour also risk shorter lifespans. Bummer.

3. Travel the world. Gosh, I don't know. Airplanes crash, so do bicycles and cars. Consider the risks to the general population -- motor vehicles, 1 in 7700; bicycles 1 in 410,000; and airplanes, 1 in 206,900. Of course, that's not me, I'm not the "general population." OK, think risk based on exposure -- motor vehicles, 1.3 deaths per 100,000,000 vehicle miles; airplanes, 1.9 deaths per 100,000,000 aircraft miles; bicycles, unavailable but anecdotal evidence suggests if you bike regularly you'll have an accident. (See

4. Walk every day. Heck, sometime that every day may bring icy sidewalks, lurking muggers, unseen pothole ankle-twisters.

5. Read the best 100 novels of all time. How dangerous could that be? I suppose it could depend on your state of mind. The Stranger by Camus might persuade certain people to murder. Les Miserables might suggest it's commendable to filch a loaf of bread.

I could go on, but by now you probably get the picture. What's on your bucket list, my friend?

A year ago I set a goal of running 40 miles per week for 2012. In early December, when I read that Wall Street Journal article about cardiac risks, I had to face the music -- live or die. I continued toward my goal. Every single week of 2012 I ran at least 40 miles, for a grand total of 2214 as of this morning (with one day to go)...BUT....

For 2013, I choose life (I think), cutting back to no more than 25 running miles per week and no faster than 8 miles per hour. Problem is, when do I become eligible for the lower risk, right away or does it take awhile?

"Come on now," says Virginia. "You've read Freakonomics. Don't confuse correlation with cause and effect."



  1. mary pannabecker steinerDecember 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Hahahaha...I've been thinking along the same lines...working on my own NY blog.

  2. Very good, James! But I'd suggest you look for positive, rather than scary, goals! Your many, many fans look for you to live for 200 years (if you want to) and are happy CAUSE you are moderating, even if your goals are still bodacious. Reading anything and everything has the EFFECT that you'll be stretching your mind while resting your body. We approve! Kick that bucket on down the road! But not right away. Linda & Dave

  3. No point in being alive if you're not living! Also, counter-anecdotally I have been biking many many miles and have yet to have a vehicle-bike accident...probably just jinxed myself. Better stay indoors this year...