Generosity Of Spirit Is Important For The Endurance Athlete And For A Happy Life


Hi folks,

Chez Ollie Notice carefully that in order to reduce his motion towards his left as he takes a right-hand turn the skier leans his head and shoulders towards the left, moving his hips to his right, resulting in his feet going to his right, resulting in the right-hand edge of his skis biting into the snow, preventing slippage to his left (he leans left to go right!).

The biggest enemy of charity or generosity is fear – someone famous said something like that, but I don’t remember who (or is it whom?). I most certainly consider this statement to be true. Think about it! If you become short on money, are you more or less likely to give money away? Generally not, but this is a big mistake as a general rule. Remember the old Widow’s Mite story in the Bible¬†– I consider this book to be a¬†somewhat confusing and recent rendition of human wisdom. FitOldDog is no different when money or other resources are scarce, but I try to fight my inner tendency to keep what is mine to me. The best analogy I know of for the value of fighting this self-defensive reaction comes from downhill skiing. Just explore the adjacent figure, and then examine the same movements standing or even sitting in a chair.

Years ago a friend said to me, “Kevin, you have a poverty complex.” This statement was one of the greatest gifts – I pictured my attitude to life as an overcooked lump of meat, sitting there, inflexible, uneatable, indigestible, and basically not a good thing. So I started to work on my attitude, even though at that time I did not have a lot of money. And lo and behold, as soon as I started to give more away the Universe started to give more back. It didn’t always come as money, though sometimes it did, more often being in the form of good feelings and contentment on my part. For instance, here is but one of many experiences of spontaneous giving that have rewarded my life:

RDU airport concourse, FitOldDog's generosity experience,‘Several years ago I was in a restroom at the RDU airport, returning from a work trip, harassed and tired, and a little stressed, and it was late at night. I had a lot on my mind but as I entered the busy restroom I noticed that the custodian was even more stressed than I was, as he tried to clean up for the night, whilst frustrated clients worked around him to mess it up again. I suspect that this guy was just holding it together, and he was probably running late for his second job. So, I remembered what that friend had said, and reached into my wallet, took out $20 (which I really could not afford at the time), and asked the guy if he accepted tips. He looked confused, and I suspect that he was suspicious of my motives. I then said, “Well I hope that you do, because I really appreciate coming to this clean restroom after these late-night work flights before going home. This is just a gesture of thanks.” And I handed him the $20. You never saw such a change in a human being – his face lit up, he smiled and said a very confused “Thanks” – he came alive, his shoulders ‘unslumped’ and his life was now full of light. It wasn’t the $20, though that helped, it was the sense of appreciation that turned his evening around.’

We all need appreciation from time to time.

It was life lessons such as these that gave me the ‘fiscal courage’ to use some of my retirement savings (not that I believe in the whole idea of retirement) for a local business venture, Johnny’s Gone Fishing, which is now providing employment for local people and businesses. I may never see my money back, but I have received many other rewards that are enriching my life.

What has that to do with endurance training and safe exercise for better health? Everything! You have to learn to be generous to your body, with either a big helping of exercise or lots of sleep and rest. The very best thing that you can do in this regard is to learn to tell which is needed and when, irrespective of your coach’s instructions (though keep him/her in the loop).

Experience is the only way I know to achieve this happy balance in your life and training.

-k @FitOldDog

PS Thinking of generosity, I would like to thank Chez Ollie for giving me a copy of Runner’s World with an article on the value of eggs to runners. I have two eggs (over easy!) for breakfast almost every day, on whole-wheat toast, and have for over 50 years. They just seem to work for me, and apparently I am not alone. Thanks, Brad!



  1. In economic theory from the time of Jevons we are said to seek to maximise our UTILITY. Not greed, not profit, not wages, not rents, no, we seek this thing called “utility”.
    What is utility? It is that from which we derive ….

  2. Lots of things to think about here, and much of it is human projection. -k

  3. No problem on the magazine. Glad to dig through the recycling bin for you. I also got a book for you that looked pretty good and left it at Johnny’s with Duncan. Here is the link to the book if you haven’t gotten it yet.
    If you’ve read it or are not interested, pass it forward. Either way, Happy Birthday!


  4. What a great message Kevin, thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    When I was in corporate America it was always great when you’re given a raise but for the most part, you never got what you were worth. I always found that I was much happier when my boss told me that he appreciated me and that I had done a great job. That made my day and I would make sure that I worked even harder. I wish people understood that more.

    Your kind gesture made that person’s day I’m sure. Just knowing that you recognized they had done a good job because for the most part they feel invisible. Not having the best job to begin with just makes it that much worse.

    We have a maintenance guy around our property and I go out of my way to let him know that I appreciate what he’s done and the hard work he’s put in. No one ever tells him that but this way he wants to do a great job. It’s just nice to be noticed.

    Wonderful message Kevin and again, thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    You enjoy your week now.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.