A Full Life Includes Experiences That May Require Your Trained Attention To Enjoy


FitOldDog feeding his granddaughter, Celia, at his son's graduation. A fond memory.

FitOldDog feeding his granddaughter at his son's graduation. What better experience?

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Tao te Ching, translation by Steven Mitchell.

Hi folks,

The other day I was returning from a short training ride and there was a fluttering off to my right. Glancing across I espied a barn owl, which was landing on an adjacent lawn whilst calmly observing me on my strange traveling machine. This avian predator was a beautiful sight! Another time I was sitting in my car, recovering from a long workout. The full moon was directly ahead of me, when I noticed a black ‘dot’ in its center, and the dot was expanding, growing rapidly. Before I knew it, the ‘dot’ had entirely blotted out the moon, then a large owl (the black dot) swooped overhead, just missing my windscreen. Another wonderful visual experience, which I would have missed had I not been sitting calmly, too tired to move. Yet another time, I was riding my bike way out of town in the early morning mist, and there, only about 30 feet away, stood a lovely red fox with a bird in its mouth. Nature at work. These memories persist. I think that such experiences and the memories they leave are what much of my inner life is about. The beauty of Ironman training is that it gets you out there in three different ways or viewpoints (swim, bike, run), exposing your senses to events and locations that you would otherwise never enjoy, like my encounter with Dolphins in Hawaii.

Myles and Nick, two of my supporters, before the Lake Placid Ironman Race

Myles and Nick, two of my supporters, before the Lake Placid Ironman Race

In spite of the constant activity, endurance sports are somewhat meditative, as you spend a great deal of time exercising alone. In fact, I consider meditation to be a crucial component of my Ironman training. It is when you are not thinking or doing that things really happen. I like to meditate on the lakeside before each Ironman race to calm my mind and prepare myself to enjoy what is a very long day. I think that this works so well because of my regular meditation sessions. Each morning, until recently with my lovely cat, Alobar, I sit quietly in bed with a cup of tea for an hour or more, while everyone else is still asleep. Just sitting. Not thinking. If my mind intrudes I just watch the chatter, and it soon quietens down again. One thing I have discovered during this quiet sitting is that the real value of life lies in experiences and other people, not accumulated possessions, though I would hate to lose my racing bikes!

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Re your granddaughter, breast is best.

  2. Yeah I agree with endurance sports being meditative. I know whenever I am on my bike I get lost in the rhythm of the cadence I am setting. What was supposed to be short ride turns out to be long. There is just something about being outdoors and hearing and feeling the wind as you pedal on.

  3. Hi Paul, yep, you have to be there to appreciate it. One of my favorite things to do is run on my own in a heavy rain storm. Just makes me feel really alive. -kevin aka FitOldDog

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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.