Running and Being: The Total Experience

ISBN: 0446970905
ISBN 13: 9780446970907
By: George Sheehan

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Reader's Thoughts


This book has a few nice quotes (most of which are not even the author's, just some famous philosophers) for which I give it one star... This book's author has a tone of arrogance the whole way through and frequently refers back to his staunch notion that one must have a specific body type to run, and if you don't, you need to do something else. He gets so detailed with these ideals of physiological perfection it kind of reminds me of Hitler's obsession with ideal Aryan measurements. Also, I am apparently doomed and should just give up tomorrow because my second toe is slightly longer than my great toe. Worst of all, Sheehan tries to temper his huge egotism with fake humility which I just can't tolerate. Mixed in with the lofty and scattered philosophizing was a bunch of seventies-era goofiness. Just horrible. As a side-note, the second I found out Sheehan was a cardiologist, I thought "oh, well no wonder he is so pompous".

Christopher Kijowski

I have read this book so many times over the years my 20-year-old paperback looks like it's been to Hell and back. This book is a favorite for so many reasons. When I was younger and trying to find myself, Doc Sheehan understood me. As I reread the dog eared pages I see myself happy and content. I find company and solace in its pages. I've read reviews by people who have said, "Not enough about running" in this book. You've missed the point. Doc Sheehan's life was about running, any runner will tell you that.

Lenny Husen

I read this in the 1980's, my aunt Mary Jo gave it to me when I was 16. I loved it and loved George Sheehan's style enough to subscribe to Runner's World magazine for a couple of years, just because of his column. For him, running was meditation, a triumph of the human spirit, and a religion. The way surfing is for some people. He was unique and a special guy. Every time I see someone running and looking happy about it instead of miserable, I think of this book.


I won't lie- this book is dated and the author is so pretentious it borders on comical. However, if you manage to swim through the sea of narcisism Sheehan does have moments of beautiful clarity and prose. He describes the spiritual aspect of running well, though he tends to go far overboard. (He compares himself to everyone from Moses to Thoreau.) All that being said it is a nice read if you don't take it too seriously.


The more enjoyable your new fitness routine, the more likely you are to stick with it (through February, at least). Dr. Sheehan’s bestselling classic has inspired millions to find the fun in running. Read this on the elliptical, and then ditch the machines for the great outdoors.image


The philosophy of running. A classic running book from the '70's. This was my Running Bible when I started running.


When I first started this book I thought it was really lame. He talks about himself a lot in a self-deprecating-yet-egotistical way, like he is so proud of being a loner. I kept thinking, "Man, get over yourself." He also has a lot of bogus ideas about ecto/endo/mesomorphs and how that determines your personality. I kept thinking he must really be a loner and not know anyone because I can think of a zillion individuals whose body types do not match the personalities he related to them. The first 15% of the book is filled with that, and it crops up again briefly several times later in the book.For some reason I kept reading, and I am so glad I did. There are some amazingly inspiring essays. Reading this book will really make you want to find an activity you are good at and like doing, and do it with your whole heart and soul. It helps you find meaning in your life in the daily activities.The core of his message is that play is meaningful.He shares some really cool stories about some races he has been in, especially ones where he had a spiritual or emotional experience during the race. He also tells about some daily training sessions and how he feels about running in general. There is also some practical advice for runners which now is kind of outdated, like "Wear cushioned shoes" and "Land on your heel". On the other hand, you got to trust him on some stuff, because he is the world record holder for the over-50 2 mile, with a time of 10:53. Yeah. I bet less than 5% of the population of America can run that fast for even twenty yards. I could probably run that fast for only 800 m.Despite the lame-brain self-absorption scattered through the book, it's definitely worth reading because it has so many nuggets of wisdom and inspiring stories. There are some really good life lessons.


The best book for anyone wanting to start running. Written with longevity in mind.

Martin Amy

many interesting quotes and thought provoking comments. Though lots of wishywashiness too... worth the read? just

Ross Leblanc

Along the lines of Dale Carnegie's "How to win Friends and Influence People" et al., great wisdom and stories in this book but not something that has to necessarily be read sequentially in long sittings. I've marked the book as 'Read' but in reality will continue to pick up and read a random chapter at times. So much meandering wisdom with a plethora of references to historical figures. His random thinking sits well with me. Love this book and look forward to finding more Mr. Sheehan's work in the future.


I expected to like this book better than I did. I think it was Sheehan's writing style. I know he's accomplished a lot and has been an inspiration to many people and this book has also been a best seller and perhaps is even considered a running classic. But it seems as if everything is black and white to Sheeham. No gray areas. He's found what works for him and assumes the same is true for everyone else. His hard hitting information and jack hammer way of delivering it is not very appetizing. If he were telling you this verbally, I think you would get tired of it very quick. That doesn't mean the information or his experience is of no value. Perhaps a less didactice delivery would be more enjoyable. If you want to read a really good book on running, I recommend "Born to Run" or "Eat and Run," not this title.

Jeremy Preacher

This was a hilarious book. Crazy over-the-top paeans to physical fitness as the ultimate virtue, wild claims about spirituality and its connection to running, and an insistence that every long-distance runner shares the same totally Asperger's traits as the author. I giggled all the way through.That said, the sections that are actual memoirs of races or discussions of the nuts-and-bolts of running are solid - among other things, the author gives a dead-on description of hypercorticism while pointing out that there was no current science to explain "staleness" resulting from overtraining.It's not a book I'd recommend - it's way too scattered, hyperbolic, and dated to really hang together - but it was a funny read.


It was great to read a book about running that wasn't how-to. Sheehan emphasizes the necessity of play in our daily lives, and also how running for some people can serve as a way to connect with the self, and also the wider world. In general, this book was thoughtful, well-written, and unique.However, one thing kept really bugging me about this book. Sheehan likes to write phrases in a sentence, put words together in various ways, combine ideas and thoughts in several versions, and then rather than picking the one that worked best for getting across what he is trying to communicate, what he really wants most to say, what the real thrust of his argument is, he leaves them all in the sentence.See what I did there?

Pat Burke

This man explains what drives runners to run using philosophers, theologians, poets, psychologists, Christianity, Buddhism, et al. Because he is an accomplished runner, he is able to use his own anecdotes to paint the words of these others into an experience with which all road runners will relate.His thesis is that we find meaning in play, not in work. Athletics, dance, golf and other endeavors that require focus and discipline allow participants to live in the moment where time stands still. Freed from time eternal values are palpable and wisdom gained.

Laura Hoffman Brauman

I really, really wanted to love this book -- so much so, that I kept reading when normally I would have put the book down and moved on to something else. I've seen a lot of Sheehan's quotes in other articles and always found them very relevant, meaningful, etc. -- But when I read his essays as a whole, there was more that I really disagreed with than resonated with me. That being said -- his essays are about his experience as a runner, and his experiences are his alone. What I did like was the idea of running as play and the importance of play to identity, happiness, fulfillment.

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