The IF Project – Day 15: The Unforgiving Minute

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…”

And here we are, day 15 of 15! To the readers who have stuck with me through these three weeks, thank you so very much! I am planning an “Epilogue” to be published on Monday, so stay tuned for that. I’m also looking through my work, planning a bonus post later today. More than likely something different, a piece of poetry or a small flash fiction piece, perhaps. So, stay tuned for that as well. And now, without further ado…

Let’s dive in!


A few years ago, I used to finish my gym session with a mile run around the indoor track.

5 laps.

I’d take it easy the first three, pacing myself, focusing on my breathing and cadence while listening to my workout mix. On lap 4, I’d queue up the same track, Han Zimmer’s, “Flight”, from the Man of Steel soundtrack (this is where Superman is learning to fly in the movie – context is everything). It’s a four minute track and I’d always sprint in the last 74 seconds of the song. It’s the crescendo and Superman is finally getting the hang of it. I always geeked out with this track and it feels pretty cool running to this track in your head. Seriously… do it and tell me you don’t feel like you’re flying.


That last minute fourteen seconds was always hell; I was already tired from whatever lifting session I had done that day. To fill that sixty seconds plus with a sprint was always a challenge. My body wanted to revolt against me, slow me down, muscles burning and fatigued.

Since then, I’ve learned and changed up my workouts but I still find myself at a wall with 60 seconds to go. Whether it is on an Air Bike, Rower or SkiErg doing HIIT intervals or whether I am in the sauna after 29-39min of time in (temp depending), or I’m rolling in BJJ: I come to that mental wall and there is still at least 60 seconds on the clock.

Fatigue can make quitters and cowards of us all.

It always comes down to the Will set deep within my heart and mind, that is always the determining factor on whether or not I finish. It’s a constant battle, finding that “quitter” inside and pushing him further and further down the path.

Fugit Irreparabile Tempus

Irretrievable time flees.

The unforgiving minute… and it is unforgiving. Why do you think Kipling titles it, “unforgiving”? A rhetorical question, perhaps.

Deep down, beyond cliché and motivational videos. We understand that we are mortal. Further, we understand that we can not get a single minute back once it has been spent. Time not only flees irretrievably, irreparably, but it also approaches without relent and without mercy. Depending on the season in your life and your mindset, this can feel like a gift or curse.

Kipling it seems strikes hard at all of this at once, using the physical to reveal something deeper on the mental and, I dare say, spiritual level. I dig this, because I use the physical all the time to help me get clarity and peace on deeper levels.

“Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth…”

Like anything worthwhile, “going the distance” like this takes dedication and practice.

What would happen if we were to consciously practice this in every facet of our lives?

In your relationship with your love, your children, your friends and coworkers/subordinates?

In your profession, hobbies and interests?

Even in your leisure?

The minute is unforgiving, so why should we try and show it any mercy? Improving upon this every day, without relent, trying to fill those unforgiving minutes, we come to the final piece in Kipling’s poem:

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

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