This is Why I Train

Sunday morning my friends Eric and Brandon joined me for a standup paddle workout off the Malibu coastline. It was an unusually warm day for mid-winter and we set out for a short jaunt to the pier at Paradise Cove, a little over a mile up the beach. We were cruising along at a good clip, and almost there, when a pod of 12 dolphins surprised us by surfacing near us heading in the opposite direction. And when I say near, I mean some of them were within a few feet – maybe inches – of our boards. Eric suggested we turn around and try to catch them. I was skeptical that we could go fast enough, seeing how quickly they had passed us, but after watching for a minute or so and seeing that they had slowed, we gave chase. Within a few more minutes we had caught up with them, almost as if they had been waiting for us, and we proceeded to paddle slowly with them for the next mile or so. It was incredible to see 12 of these magnificent creatures surface and dive – and expel their loud breaths – within just a few feet of us for so long. I’m sure they were having as much fun as we were. The water was fairly clear, so we could see them down to about 12 feet below us as they looked for food. A few were quite young, but several must have weighed 500-600 pounds. The three of us were in awe of how lucky we were to have hit upon just the right conditions. As we cruised south along the coastline in this motley little parade, many of the beach residents started gathering on their porches to check out the action. We drew quite a crowd.

Ever the diligent photographer, Eric decided to paddle ahead to his beach house and get his camera to try to capture the moment. Brandon and I slowed down as much as we could without losing the dolphins while Eric raced in and set up his camera on his balcony. I have attached a few of the shots he was able to get as we passed by his house. It was truly a magical day (ending with a two-hour Ultimate Frisbee match, of course).

This is why I train…to play.

Here are a few more pics. (You may need to scroll down the page a bit to view the enlarged versions after clicking the thumbnails.)

Paddle Surfing with Dolphins Paddle Surfing with Dolphins

Paddle Surfing with Dolphins Paddle Surfing with Dolphins

Paddle Surfing with Dolphins Paddle Surfing with Dolphins

Photos courtesy of Eric Cotsen

Further Reading:

Getting Back to Nature

Is Living Primal Good for the Environment?

Seedlings and the “Need” for Nature

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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22 thoughts on “This is Why I Train”

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  1. Absolutely incredible.

    It’s always an incredible experience to be able to play with the natives in mother natures’ playground.

  2. That’s awsome, I’ve had close encounters with various animals in my area as well. One of the coolest was while mountain biking I had a little red fox trot along side me for about a mile.

    Really cool pics!!

  3. How incredible! Even better that Eric could capture it on film. I had a similar experience while kayaking in Monterey – but it was with a baby seal. She just swam along side for a good hour or so, until she finally got tired and took a nap on the front end of the kayak. How beautiful are nature’s creatures!?

  4. That’s so awesome! Thanks too for sharing the pics and the experience. Sweet.

  5. That’s just good karma coming back to you, Mark. Think about all the people you’ve touched and helped live healthier lives. The universe is thanking you!

  6. WOW, Good for you Mark, Eric, and Brandon, you guys had a blast. Thanks for sharing your story and pic.’s. This is so cool!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing a beautiful moment of joyful interaction with the most playful creatures in the kingdom of Poseidon.

  8. That is so magical! It’s a great reminder of the joy that getting out and getting active can bring through those unexpected encounters! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Absolutely awesome Mark. You are so lucky to be living in Malibu…..I could only ever dream of doing this stuff on holiday, gotta figure out a way to get my career somewhere more sunny and near the ocean!!

  10. Wow, that is simply awesome. I have seen dolphins playing on the shore at the North Carolina beach we go to. Sometimes, it seems to me, monkeys and dophins have something to tell us. 🙂

  11. Very cool! Living by the ocean does have it’s perks. I’ve seen all types of sea life while surfing off the coast of FL. But Reagan, you are the winner, an hour with a seal then it hops up on your kayak….how awesome is that!

  12. Outstanding! I’ve seen dolphins off the coast of Wales, but I never saw whales off the coast of anywhere never got close as I was on top of a cliff at the time, but I’d like to meet one

  13. Mark,

    I am jealous of where you live, buddy. What an amazing “life experience”. Seriously…it are these little surprises that you remember for the rest of your life.

    You post reminds me that I need to train and do fun activities outside more than I currently do. The most exciting thing to me that happens on a treadmill is that the TV in the gym is NOT playing Oprah or Dr. Phil (I believe that both lower my testosterone levels).

    Incredible pictures as well…very cool!


  14. Mark –

    That had to have been an amazing experience. Congrats again.

  15. I was paddle boarding a couple weekends ago, and in the distance some pelicans were hunting.

    I was paddling out, setting up for a downwind run back in, and a grinning pelican came flying over me. He grunted at me, and I grunted back waving my paddle towards him. Then he dove down and began surfing the ground effect about 6″ above the swells.


  16. Absolutely incredible! My husband and I tryed Paddle boarding this summer and are getting our own soon.