Alone together on a Sunday morning, the track and the runner form a unique relationship, one where they are simultaneously king and subject. At that moment the track exists for him. As the sun rises and the dew glistens in the grass he determines what the workout will be. Will it be a long slow run that he’s done countless times before? Will he run sprints? Or, will he glide along at a brisk pace that leaves him pleasantly winded — the kind of breathing that really lets him know he’s alive without overly taxing his body.

Any king worth his salt will always find ways to humble himself. He needs to know that there are forces out there that can bring him to his knees. He needs to know that life is temporary, and that one day he will die. The humbled man allows respect to flow through his veins, which often carries with it things like kindness and discipline, foresight and a sense of purpose.

And so, knowing this, the Runner King will often submit himself to a workout that leaves every ounce of his body screaming for mercy. The lessons he learns by testing his limits are taught to him by the track, thereby establishing it as his master. It would be easier to “jog” around the course, smile with and pride think about how much “better” he is than those still sleeping in, tucked in all snug in their beds — dreaming of doing. But the Runner King knows the he is not better than anyone else, and he reminds himself of this by running faster and faster and faster, until the burn in his bones and his heart and his lungs melts his smug sense of superiority away. Then, when it’s gone, in its place is a little diamond of thought: You came from dust, and to dust you will return.

Upon leaving, the Runner King is thankful. He is thankful for the track. He is thankful for his health. He is thankful he is alive. He is tired, but he is invigorated. And most of all, he is inspired to share the lessons he’s learned with his friends, his enemies, and the ones he loves.

Related: Why we run

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

4 comments

  1. Well that was very poetic, artistic and valuable. Although I can’t remember what Thor said exactly, were you inspired to write this because of Thor’s speech about true kingship to Loki?

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