Thus Spake, Ran, Drank Zarathustra

By: Zane Shetler


When Zarathustra was thirty-some years old, he underwent a crisis and he left behind the comfort of his living room and went running forth into his neighborhood and the adjoining parks and trails. There he jogged and he did not tire of his solitude nor his running mix for many months. But at last his heart turned and he muttered to his playlist:

Great song selections, what would your happiness be if you had not these ears for your sick beats to entertain? Would you not grow weary if it weren’t for your being heard?

Behold! I am likewise weary of my wisdom. My cup overfloweth with the science of running and the nuances of trail etiquette. I am like a pair of shorts that has gathered too much sweat and mildew. I need hands outstretched to take them and wring them out.

I should like to give this knowledge away, and Zarathustra wants to be man again. Thus Zarathustra went to a pub run.


Zarathustra stood among the runners gathered in front of the brewery. They were eager to exercise as one and then enjoy a post-run beer and socializing. Just like the others, he mingled awkwardly and jockeyed for position to be nearer the graduate student females stretching on the sidewalk. They did not look at him when he spoke, but he knew he would soon have disciples among a crowd so clearly desperate with spiritual yearning:

I wish to speak to the despisers of the body, those who hide their true selves under reflective gear, specialized running caps, and wrap-around sunglasses. “I am a runner, body and soul” — so he speaks. And why should a gear-wearer not speak such?

But the enlightened man shows up gearless and says — “I need not your rigmarole — special dry fits and light-up vests, watches and GPS. I fear not that I shall get lost and perish from dehydration on tonight’s three-mile loop!”

This is the man we should yearn to be. We should aspire to be he who’s Self says to the Ego: “Feel thirsty!” as he forsakes his bandoleer of two-ounce water bottles and runs proudly into the night with little more than the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet.

Such a man is our hero. He would also rise to any challenge — every possible impending 5K!


The crowd was silent, somewhat stunned. One man asked if he had an upcoming race he was trying to announce. Zarathustra waved him off like a fly and continued:

Of course, there are important events on the horizon. But there are changes that must occur first to cause a man to seek out a pub run such as this — I dare you tell me it is not so. Indeed, he must undergo three metamorphoses that lead him to this point. I will describe them:

First, as a boy, he must wrap himself in the sweet warmth of identity that is high school athletics, despite the fact that he is a verily un-vital factor to that same team’s success.

Next, he must leave behind the world of youthful competition to be borne aloft on the wings of his first job, second job, third job, during which a once laughably easy Turkey Trot comes to pose a daunting challenge. He must rise to the task with equal parts confidence and shame.

Then the third metamorphoses. The most important! There must be a catalyst: a tremendous break-up, a psychosexual upheaval that occurs when his running career is at its all-time low, thus resulting in his rededication to running, a forgoing of Netflix, and swift action upon that hitherto unquenched desire to garner greater friendships and meet more potential love interests.

Then, and only then, does a man attend a pub run.


After speaking thus, Zarathustra began to weep. A young woman asked him if he’d been drinking already. Another asked if he was going to make an announcement or not, because they’d like to get started already. Zarathustra turned to them and yelled:

There are always those who go against us. There will be those who say, “Why must you clog our thoroughfares?” There will always be those men who ride along upon motorized wheels, who honk and flail their limbs, chastising us for daring to cross roads the way we see fit. And to these beasts, our laughter rules supreme. We giggle and we flit around the bend.

But alas, there are enemies we cannot easily escape. They are the naysayers among us. They claim to pledge allegiance to the brotherhood of the light feet, but their hearts — and feet! — are in fact heavy with despair. Flee from their sly vengeance. Flee these apostates!

Avoid he who runs far ahead, so seemingly fast and stolid in nature, to all eyes giving forth the intention of going the distance — Yet no! The pack watches in horror as he slows up, massages a cramp in his side, stumbles behind a bush and presumes to vomit.

Flee too the man that wears headphones and says unto himself, “I shall run together and apart at the same time” — for he cuts himself off from the lively flock and in doing so undermines the foundation of our sacred bond.

If you meet these apostates, look them in the eye and profess that lesser acts of treachery have felled empires. And if you, yourself, are the men I decry, run quickly away and don’t stop till you’ve run full away from yourself!


In the meanwhile, evening had come and the impatient runners were talking over him, for even curiosity and disgust grow tired, and Zarathustra realized that his teachings had fallen on deaf ears.

“They are sleeping and running, their dreams are reality to them. Yet the ears that listen to me do not heed my lovely truths.” Zarathustra said this to his heart.

“My suffering and my pity — who cares about them! This is my night, my time to shine: rise up now, rise up, great noontide!

In a last effort to save face, Zarathustra leapt onto the picnic table and clapped his hands together before announcing:

Hark! Um, guys? I guess what I’m getting at in a roundabout way is that there is a fantastic 5K Fun Run downtown next Saturday. It’s supposed to be really great weather. Just a five-dollar entry fee and all proceeds help fund my trip to Nietzsche’s tomb in partial completion of my philosophy PhD. I hope to see you there!



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