Distance running made more sense. It was harder and took more effort and training, but I found that it got easier the more I worked at it. I was determined to be good at whatever I did. So as in all the other events in which I had participated I concentrated on being the best. I was sure the coach would be pleased.
And so I trained hard and ran long. I raced to win and I won. I ran longer and longer races and became a champion. Naturally the spectators noticed me and I was proud of being noticed. I ran harder and longer to be noticed again and again. The more I ran, the more notice I received and I was pleased with my performance and I was pleased with myself. At last I was a runner.
A real runner. A distance runner. Around and around the track I ran. Almost daily I would run, growing accustomed to the field and the acclaim. But, then it hit me.
I was running for the sake of running. I was running to please myself, to please the crowds. I was a runner all right, but I wasn't a runner in the sense that the runner who knocked me over on the road was a runner. No, sir. He was out there running where runners need to be, while I was still performing. I was running, but I was running around in circles, getting nowhere. Regardless of how far I ran, I ended up in the same place. It didn't matter how many laps I ran, I was still in the stadium performing. And I had grown to like my own performance. That was wrong.
As I paced the ground and pondered these things I noticed the coach standing beside me. "You have learned much," he said.
"Yes, I have learned that there's more to running than just running."
"Have you?" he said. "Have you really learned?"
"Oh, yes, I'm sure of it. Why, I've been running in circles and getting nowhere. I have been performing to please myself and to please others. And I've been pleased to please others and to hear their praise. But that is not what I came here to do. I came to be a runner, an out there type runner. A runner who runs with the news."
"Yes, my son. That is why you have come. That is why I called you. You have realized the folly of performing and know that you must run. But have you really learned? Do you really know what running is all about?"
"Yes, I know. I'm sure I know. And I want to run. I really do."
"Then run, my son. Run the race. Finish the course." And run I did.