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WHAT'S UP? DOC.
Dan Levin
October 19, 1981
Dr. Robert Arnot sleeps three hours a night to have time to board-sail, speed-skate, run, bicycle, doctor, dance, romance and play the trumpet
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October 19, 1981

What's Up? Doc.

Dr. Robert Arnot sleeps three hours a night to have time to board-sail, speed-skate, run, bicycle, doctor, dance, romance and play the trumpet

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He was asked, "Isn't the 32 miles of roller skating affecting your performance?"

"A little," he said. "I was practicing sprint starts out there this morning, on hills, but basically I'm not very fast."

That evening, at dinner with Cooper, Arnot was talking about his tastes in sports. He had always been terrible at games such as baseball, football and basketball, he said, and he might have wound up fat and out of shape at 33 but for a conversation with a physiologist at summer camp when he was 15. The physiologist suggested that he might be better suited for endurance sports, which Arnot had never thought of trying. Soon he was swimming a mile a day and running three or four. "I was amazed that I could do it," he said.

Cooper seemed fascinated. So did their waitress, though it may have had something to do with Arnot's dramatic blue eyes, strong jaw, impish grin and narrow—the word may be "chiseled"—slightly turned-up nose. As he left the restaurant she sent a co-worker after him with a note. It read: "Tomorrow is my day off," and included her telephone number.

After dinner, back at the high school, Arnot delivered a lecture to 30 New Hampshire athletic directors and coaches, a basic introduction to sports science. He told them that the heart and lungs develop mainly in the teen years, which was when coaches could make the most important contribution. He said that many kids don't begin to mature physically until 14 or 15, but that many of them have big hearts and lungs even then. "I did," he said, "and I was a total loss at games. Then I met a doctor who told me I'd do well in endurance sports, and I was off. So you may have kids who could be great marathon runners. They should be encouraged."

At the end of the lecture, a reporter from TV Channel 31 in Hanover came over with a camera and asked Arnot, "What's your basic message to coaches?"

"That there's a perfect, or near perfect, sport for everyone," he said, "based on heart, lung and frame size, muscle-fiber type and what kind of motor skills you have."

"And what is your advice for high school kids, with the Connecticut Valley Championships coming up?"

"Well," Arnot deadpanned, "what I always advocate is sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll."

He didn't confide that 13 years ago, in Morocco, on spring vacation from the University of Innsbruck, he had taken a puff from a hashish cigarette and promptly fallen asleep. That is still his only experience with drugs, unless one wants to count the prodigious quantities of adrenaline that undoubtedly course through his veins.

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