Training too much?

It has been a while since I posted an athletic specific post. I was told the other day that I have a problem, that I am orthoexic. Orthoexia nervosa is a proposed eating disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with healthy living and food. I won’t go into the diagnositic criteria, but I can assure you, this is not me.

Most research places an individuals physiological peak capacity in the mid thirties. I have been a long distant athlete since 2010, completing runs from the 5k – 100k distance, bike rides from 12 miles to 330 miles, fast packs from 12 miles to 50 miles and Rucks from 8 hours to 23 hours.

In 2014, I would run my fist sub 8 hour 50k in 7:50. I ran my best 50k in 2016, the Buzzard Day 50k in 6 hours and 50 minutes, my first (and only)sub seven hour 50k. For the next 4 years, 38- 42, I would PR several races in the 50k distance. Again, the research shows that decline begins to show in the mid thirties, a linear decline of 1% – 1.5% per year until the mid 60’s. In 2020, the world would experience the Covid pandemic and my academic career tanked for a year. I would complete a couple of events that year. My 2020 nine month season turned out to be 7 weeks with four races from 25 miles – 50k and 1 GORUCK event (23 hours). Covid knocked out some of my endurance.

Following 2020, the burn out was real and my mind began to shift away from the long stuff, finding that as I enjoy middle age and children who began to enjoy outdoor pursuits as much as I did, time needed to be shifted to these pursuits.

So why all the time spent training and eating healthy? Simply, because I enjoy doing hard things. A key component of my training is listening to my body. What most people don’t see when they criticize my exercise routine and eating habits are all the times I eat like shit and enjoy myself and all the workouts I miss and don’t care.

The reality of my volume is that I am doing different things these days. 10 years ago, I was just a runner. Now, I am a cyclist and sometime Rucker. It is my intention to phase out long distance running simply because I do not enjoy it as much. A 25k – a 25 miler is just more fun than a 50k or 50 mile. Cycling is less forgiving than a long run from my experience, especially the dirt road gravel stuff.

So I will eat what I want and train when I want, or not. Chart your own health. You born weak and defenseless and you will die weak and defenseless. The time in between is up to you.


“When we wonder, we touch God”, Nontando Hadebe

What was your why today? What motivates you or guides your steps each day? What are you focusing on?

The Buddha once said that “all that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage”

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him”.

It is easy these days to blame, to put people in boxes and cast aspersions based on our superstitions, fears or in many cases, ignorance.

Maybe instead, lean into the roots of your spiritual tradition. In first century Palestine, Jesus engaged in right intention when looking at his cultural landscape, he saw the many injustices cast by both his religious authorities and government. Rather than allowing his personal thoughts and biases to get in the way, he instead leaned into his Jewish traditions and confronted the powers to bring light to the poor. For Jesus, his right intention was insisting on the horizontal relationships so crucial for Jewish spirituality.

Perhaps, we too can return to this notion of strengthening our horizontal relationships with others. Making the intention of love in our daily lives rather than spending our time pushing a vertical relationship with the divine, we engage in the universal love that the Divine has with all creation, thus creating an interconnectedness that reduces hate and self centeredness.

When we are so consumed with ourselves or our personal relationship with the divine, we can cultivate an attitude of indifference, a sense of duality. Indifference is the contrast of wonder. Wonder cultivates an adoration of the Divine. When we begin to wonder about the stranger in our midst, and we can do this in an attitude of love, we begin to see the Divine’s love in all creation, we move out of a sense of binary/duality and move into the realm of non duality. We then cease to see Greek or Jew, Slave or Free, Male or Female and we simply see God’s universal love and the Christ nature in all beings.

Goodbye Old Friend – A Reflection of Gratitude

Today, I said goodbye to an old friend, someone who has been in my life for 15 years and has walked with me through my transition from the pulpit to the outpatient offiice. My friend was my biggest cheerleader other than my wife. When he first met me and asked me which church I had served and I told him, he rolled his eyes and asked me why they sent me there. In these words, he echoed what other pastors said about that appointment. I knew I found someone special in the way he handled that first conversation.

The spiritual practice of gratitude is a state of mind and a way of life. In the Christian New Testament, in the book of James, you can find these thoughts regarding gratitude: “every good give and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with which whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”(James 1:17, ESV). “The generosity of God in sharing the goodness of creation with us can eliscit only one possible response – that of gratitude”(Esther De Waal quoted in To Everything a Season by Bonnie Thurston). In the ancient world, whether it is from the Abrahamic religions or the Indic Religions or even some of the different native tradtions around the globe, gratefulness is often seen as a core tenet of worship/spiritual practices.

As I compose this blog this afternoon, I am grateful for all my friend taught me and his grace that he offered in letting me explore my faith and my teaching abilities in his Sunday morning classes. When I was still preaching and doing the few funerals that I was part of, I used to talk about death being the end of new meaning. Meaning then was created only when you created a connection with someone. The connection with my friend was one of mutuality and respect, but for me anyways, as a student.

Cultivating a practice of gratitude will change the way you orient yourself to the world. I am reminded of course of Thomas Mertons mystical expereince in St. Louis when he realized the interconnectednes he had with all the people around him. I had a similar experience many years ago when I started my own practice of gratitude.

It was a long Friday, I had seen 8 or 9 clients and I was tired. I had to go grocery shopping and the shopping list was not as prepared as I would have liked. I was annoyed. As I was pushing cart along the meat aisle, little boy ran in front of my cart and I almost hit him. His mother scooped him up and apologized. In this moment, instead of irritation, I just saw a little boy doing what little kids do, and I smiled, I found myself grateful for a distraction from my own inner world of weariness and irritation. From this point on, I would make a conscious effort to offer a blessing or a bow of compassion when leaving someone, whether it be a client, my kids or the cashier at the grocery store. In doing so, I found the interconnectedness that Merton was talking about.

Practicing gratitude works:


1. Shifts perspective

2. Allows us to focus on what is right instead of what is wrong.

Gratitude is the state of mind of thankfulness. God speed, Ted.

Theodore G. “Ted” Cole, age 79, of Mill Village, passed away on Sunday, January 15, 2023. He was born June 19, 1943, to the late Lawrence and Adda Cole.

Attention as a Spiritual Practice

My cell phone sits just a few inches away from me as I write this blog this morning, beckoning me, enticing me, begging for my attention. As I drove into work this morning, I drove down our shopping mall corridor with all its bright shiny signs. Billboards displayed ads for things we really do not need, vape shops that sell us products that that industry is trying to make us think is cool, it reminds me of being a kid in the 80’s with all the cool Joe Camel and Marlboro Man ads in the newspapers, magazines, and televisions.  

Where has your attention been this week? Your bills? Your weekend? Your kids? You? Epictetus tells us that you become what you give your attention to. Attention in my field of work is only a problem when you are struggling with it. But I feel that there is a larger problem a foot… we have forgotten how to pay attention.  

In a world where we are so connected, so aware, so “woke,” are we really paying attention? I often offer to my couples specifically, that they may do an excellent job hearing what each other is saying, however, they are not really listening. Listening, you see, is a full body experience, it happens through what we see and what we feel from the other person when they are talking to us. Do we see the tension in their face? The practice of mindful awareness is observed in many of the world’s religions. Most notably, the Indic religions are full of attention and awareness practices and my own religion of Christianity has many references to paying attention in its sacred scriptures and practices of attention and awareness borrowed from the Indic religions.  

Right attention allows us to be mindful or aware of critical moments of our spiritual life. It awakens us to the moments of grace, opportunities for gratitude, our connections with others and if your religious tradition includes it, moments where the (Holy)Spirit moves in and through us.  

In Buddhism, there are three types of right attention: 

  • The intention of renunciation, which counters the intention of desire. 
  • The intention of goodwill, which counters the intention of ill will. 
  • The intention of harmlessness, which counters the intention of harmfulness. 


There are many ways to practice attention depending on your spiritual tradition. Jesus tells us to keep our lamps burning and stay awake. One could interpret this in these modern times as minimizing your distractions and focus instead on acknowledging those who serve you. This means striking up a conversation with the barista, the employee at the checkout counter, the delivery person who comes to your office each day. Right attention can spread into all aspects of your life, I tend to use my time in the gym, running or riding my bike as times to focus on myself, clear my mind of any worries of for the coming day or the day that is leaving and prepare my head and heart for the challenges ahead.  

As you think of the next week and your engagement with the world, I would like to challenge you to change your relationship to what you give your attention to.  

  • The chime of your incoming text message or phone call is a cue to stop, focus and mindfully consider how you respond to that text or phone call.  
  • Stopping at the stop light, pause and look at the other drivers around you and consider your interconnectedness with those around you.  
  • The request for attention from your spouse, partner or child is a moment of connection that brings you intimately closer to that connection in your life. Missing this is a regrettable moment that you will never get back.  



Goodbye 2022

I heard a quote the other day by the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. He says that “forgiveness is about giving up all hope of a better past. As we close out 2022, we are reminded of another year gone by, things undone, laughter, heartache, and tears.  

I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 and the idea that there is a time. Ahead of us, we have 365 days. Behind us, we have 365 days and depending on your age, a lot of days. We cannot go back; we must not go back. When I was in the church, and the few funerals I was able to be part of, I used to say that death is the end of new memories. Existence is something one creates by one’s being.  

Today, tonight, 2022 breathes it’s last sighs and 2023 breathes it’s first. Hope is the “basic ingredient in optimism, a tendency to dwell on the best possibilities. It is a frequent companion of another spiritual practice – enthusiasm”(Brussat 2022). Both are energizing forces that can propel us into the void of the unknow, strengthen us with confidence that our next steps will be brighter, bolder, life giving.  

Jesus was asked one time how many times one should forgive. He said something preposterous in reply, 70x 7. Who gave you static last year? What fell through last year? Who stabbed you in the back? Or who hurt you in the past? Who abandoned you? Betrayed you? In thinking about hope, where does your hope lie? For a better past? Or for a better future? You cannot go back.  

Go forward, or not. Here is now and, in a few minutes, here will be then. Whenever we meet someone on the road ahead and they are thrashing about in gloom and doom, let us vow to hold up the banner of hope. In cultivating forgiveness, we are cultivating acceptance. We are learning to see that there are no differences between ourselves and those around us, truly, we all want the same thing, love. Around the next corner is a person hoping for a better past. You can be the one who perhaps is the one who shows that person that there is a brighter hope for a brighter future.  

Goodbye 2022, welcome 2023. May all we do this next year flow from the deep connection we have with each other and the oneness we share with the divine. May we create communities of love where hate cannot conquer our walls of love. May we see the beauty in the hearts of those around us. May there not be cruelty, hatred, greed or war within ourselves, our families, our communities, our world.  




Hope as a Spiritual Practice | Spirituality & Practice. (n.d.).