Journalist, physician, humanitarian, philanthropist, and multi-sport athlete
To delve further on the topic of longevity, stamina, and true endurance, this interview shines the spotlight on Dr. Bob Arnot. It was an honor to speak with such an accomplished person; award winning journalist, physician, humanitarian, philanthropist, and multi-sport athlete. Dr. Arnot made time for me in between training sessions, preparing for his sixth Molokai to Oahu (M2O) channel crossing. As an accomplished rough water paddler, Dr. Arnot regularly races the Graveyard Challenge and the Carolina Cup where it is messy and choppy. He competed in the Maui SUP Cup in July with 17 foot swells. However, M2O is a different ball game.
Although it will be his sixth time competing, the M2O race is still the only thing that scares him. “You can die. It’s windy and unpredictable. The mixed swell tosses you like a washing machine. The ocean is ominous, deep and dark with waves taller than you. It is the ultimate waterman challenge,” he said. Dr. Arnot has had teeth knocked out, dislocated his shoulder, AND there are sharks. It is a constant learning process and experience where tenacity of spirit, grit, determination, and really listening to and taking care of your body all come into play.
Changes in training
“The most impactful change with age is the loss of stimulus. Do not slow down,” he explained. Dr. Arnot started working with Larry Cain, five years ago. Since then, each year he has improved. He is 70 years old and has never felt better. Dr. Arnot trains like a professional athlete, really challenging his body. He paddles 60-70 miles each week which includes 8 x 5 minute sprints for anaerobic threshold training, races on Saturdays, short intervals of 15 x 30 seconds and one minute rest, and long slow distance paddles. Every other day is recovery.
Dr. Arnot recommends topical pain relievers for athletes as ibuprofen increases risk of gastritis. As a physician he recommends Salonpas pain relief patches with lidocaine. He stated that 45% of people on opiods for pain management can get off with the right topical therapy. He uses the Lidocaine Plus pain patch for competition, placing one on his lower back and one on his right elbow. “The lidocaine patch was amazing. Never had a tinge of back or elbow pain for the whole 32 miles of the World Championships,” he exclaimed.
When training for best performance, athletes are always on the threshold. You have to train smart. Dr. Arnot is very conscious of his nutrition and consumes a high polyphenol diet with green tea and high polyphenol fruits and vegetables. His books the Aztec Diet and the Coffee Lover’s Bible explains more (look for this book review in our column soon).
Paddling as a metaphor for life
When you start paddling you have terrible technique, you fall off the board, make mistakes with nutrition, but you keep learning, improve, and eventually you become a pro.The paddling community is amazing. You are not judged, instead you are welcomed. Everyone helps each other out. This is the way life should be.
To be your best, learn from the best. Dr. Arnot has taken clinics with Tommy Buday, Dave Kalama, Conner Baxter, Jeremy Riggs, Jaecee Suda, Mike Eisert, Jeff Change, Travis Grant, Larry Cain, and April Zilg. He absolutely loves the paddling community. For example at the Maui SUP Cup, Conner Baxter and Kai Lenny stopped by to talk and took pictures together. World champion Sonni Hoenscheid also took time to speak with him. They all love the sport. “There are daunting challenges in M2O. The storms and waves prepare you for life’s challenges with family and career. You learn to never give up and never surrender,” said Dr. Arnot.
On finding balance
“You can do it all. You just can’t do it all at the same time,” is Dr. Arnot’s slogan. He was in Maui training and racing for a week while his wonderful fiance was home holding down the fort. They have a five year old child together, each work, take their child to daycare, and each day they both get in their own training. Dr. Arnot gets up on East Coast time even when traveling. He works eight to fourteen hours and trains. He supports his fiance for her races and training. You can do it all because you work steadily, make time for work, training, and family. He calls it “Burst Theory” where you work hard and steadily and then all of a sudden it bursts.
The greatest gift Dr. Arnot has is time to think and create. Paddling is part of his career portfolio and keeps him engaged. One hundred percent of his workday is effective and he loves what he does. Each day he asks himself what he can do to make people’s lives better. He loves helping people. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” is an inspirational quote for Dr. Arnot. He is inspired to get up and give back by his family, God, and religion. He is grateful because he has been given amazing gifts in life. Being grateful and having a great attitude will make you a winner not only with paddling, but also with life.