Joe DeCapua

My Voice of America colleague Joe DeCapua is one of the most hardworking guys I’ve ever met, but trust me, sports fans, Joe knows how to relax and he does have a softer side.

Over the years, Joe has given me some great tips about broadcast journalism as well as maintaining and improving your health.

A fourth degree black belt and instructor in Aikido, Joe recently wrote an article for Be Well World titled, “Mind & Body in Harmony.”

While Joe wrote it with Aikido in mind, I’ve applied this passage recently to my running:


Joe with some of his Aikido students

“Some liken it to an athlete ‘in the zone,’ a state of flow. Intuition and action happen simultaneously. However, our natural state is often under attack in the modern world by stress, technology, responsibility, etc.”

“We strive to be in that natural state as we practice and as we live each day. Tension originates in the mind. To help cope with this, think of two words: ‘relax’ and ‘softer.'”

For a runner who aims for that “zone” or “state of flow,” a tightening of the legs or upper body usually spells trouble. So in addition to a series of daily stretches, I’ve added Joe’s “relax” and “softer” mantra during especially challenging sections of my runs.

NIH LogoThis morning’s skullcap 8-miler in freezing temperatures found me running up Cedar Lane by the National Institutes of Health.

It’s a long, gradual hill and I’ve struggled on it in the past. But I kept repeating those magical words, “Relax. Softer. Relax. Softer. Relax. Softer,” trying to keep them in sync with my arm swing. It worked. I didn’t lock up and I finished strongly.

Now my wife, Suzanne, wants me to start saying “relax” and “softer” more around the house. I will, and I’m also starting to say it more and more at my VOA cubicle: “Relax. Softer. Relax. Softer.” I know if I lock up in the office, Joe will be there with the key.