Posted by: thefitacademic | October 8, 2011

A Running Parable

Parable:  A succinct story which illustrates one or more principles or lessons (from Wikipedia)



The other day I was walking across campus between meetings and I noticed all the ROTC people out running. There were 2 different running “groups” separated by about half a football field in length.

The running drill was something I’d seen before. Everyone runs in a straight line so the person in front is blocking the wind for the entire group. Then, about every 5-10 seconds, the person from the very back of the line would sprint up to the front, relieving that person of their wind-breaking duty, and the whole group continued cycling through this pattern.

As I continued walking, I noticed the back group steadily closing the gap between themselves and the front group. They were catching up. From my position I was walking toward both groups, so the first group I passed was the group that was in the lead. They were full of bravado. Each time the person from the back of the line sprinted to the front they would scream at the top of their lungs. Some screamed words like “AMERICA!!!!!” or “FREEDOM!!!” and some would simply scream “’AHHHHH!!!!!!” as they sprinted to the front of the line.

Then, I came upon the second group…the group that was rapidly catching up and about to overtake the front group. This group is practicing the exact same running drill: Straight line of people running at the same pace, then the back person sprints to the front of the line, etc. They were clearly moving at a faster pace than the front group, and they were noticeably more pained-looking and tired. Then I hear someone remark in response to the front groups’ screams: “If they can scream like that, then they aren’t running hard enough.”

I chuckled to myself as I had to turn off the path into a building. “So very true.” I’ll carry that lesson with me. If you’re really pushing yourself to the max, then you should not have the energy to exert yourself in other ways simultaneously. Or another way to think about it: Do 1 thing at a time, but do it 100%. Don’t try to divide your energetic resources. Focus on running. JUST running. And when you’re done you can focus 100% on the next item on your To-Do List.

We all need little reminders like this sometimes.

What’s a good lesson you have learned lately?



  1. Ive heard something similar in response to 5Ks and people “sprinting” at the end.. I always hear others say that if they had that much energy at the end then they did not push themselves hard enough.. So recently when a friend who has been running low 10s and high 9s ran a PR mile of 7:something and said he even had enough energy to sprint at the end I instantly thought something similar.. “If you had enough energy to sprint at the end then you didnt push yourself hard enough” sometimes though I dont think its always about pushing yourself..

  2. […] #split {}#single {}#splitalign {margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;}#singlealign {margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;}#splittitlebox {text-align: center;}#singletitlebox {text-align: center;}.linkboxtext {line-height: 1.4em;}.linkboxcontainer {padding: 7px 7px 7px 7px;background-color:#FFFFFF;border-color:#FFFFFF;border-width:0px; border-style:solid;}.linkboxdisplay {padding: 7px 7px 7px 7px;}.linkboxdisplay td {text-align: center;}.linkboxdisplay a:link {text-decoration: none;}.linkboxdisplay a:hover {text-decoration: underline;} function opensingledropdown() { document.getElementById('singletablelinks').style.display = ''; document.getElementById('singlemouse').style.display = 'none'; } function closesingledropdown() { document.getElementById('singletablelinks').style.display = 'none'; document.getElementById('singlemouse').style.display = ''; } A Running Parable […]

  3. But screaming’s kind of fun sometimes, isn’t it? I agree with doing things 100% most of the time…but there’s nothing wrong with throwing a little bit of silly in now and then. That said, while the screaming might have been fun for the group doing the screaming…it must have been ANNOYING for people around them. Ha!

  4. I still need to learn the focus your energies and efforts on one thing at a time lesson!

  5. I give you a lot of credit for being able to focus your energies on one thing only. It’s not always easy to do this, at work or in any other part of life. I aspire to it.

  6. That lesson was put so well! I have been thinking about how it’s hard to get 100% out of myself since I’m interested in so many things (I won’t bore you with the list). The important thing is that I have to keep in mind that the results are much better when I am focused on the task at hand.
    BTW, I passed along the 7×7 Link Award to you. Check it out and pass it along if you can!

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