Running & Being: The Total Experience

ISBN: 0966631803
ISBN 13: 9780966631807
By: George Sheehan

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Reader's Thoughts


The runners out there already will know of George Sheehan, perhaps the sport's first philosopher. His quotes appear all over our motivational materials, and this book was reissued last year. As I trained for last week's Chicago Marathon, I read it slowly over several weeks, and I loved it. Sheehan is a little too fond of his own shortcomings, a little too proud of being somewhat antisocial, and his emphasis on the ectomorph/mesomorph/endomorph body-type stuff as being indicative of personality and ability is just....wrong. But nobody's perfect. There are passages of true beauty and clarity in this book that perfectly capture the running experience for me, with the chapters of losing, winning and "seeing" really standing out. I read the last section last night. It left me with the sensation of being launched into my sport, myself and my world as a person still incomplete, but more complete than I was before. I will refer to this book again and again.


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.

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.


My favorite book on running: "At five, I had the intuitive, instinctive faith that my cosmos, my family and the world were true and good and beautiful. That somehow I had always been and always would be. And I knew in a way of a five-year-old that I had worth and dignity and individuality. Later, when I read Nietzsche's statement that these are not given to us by nature but are tasks that we must somehow solve, I knew him to be wrong. We all had them once. We lost them when we substituted watching for doing. When we saw the lack of perfection as a reason not to participate. When we became specialists and learned to ignore what was the province of other people. For me, this meant no further interest in how things worked, in construction and making things, in crafts of any kind. I lost control of my life and in time became helpless in front of any malfunctioning machine. Now, if left to my own devices, I could not house or feed or clothe myself. Were I a castaway on a desert island, I would not know how to apply the efforts of all the scientists since the time of Archimedes. I would have to live as if they never existed. As if their talent and the products of their intense encounter with the world had never occurred."


I read this book years ago in my running phase, and decided to dip into it again before I got rid of it. Dr. George Sheehan was an older runner, having found this outlet later in his life. He became a top runner, competing in many early Boston Marathons and numerous other races each year. But, more than being a runner, he was a philosopher. He utilized running to become a whole person, to play (which all people need to do to be joyful, to be content), to challenge himself and push into pain for the satisfaction of meeting a challenge and overcoming it. His essays are sometimes hymns of love and encouragement, and, occasionally, faith (although not a church-goer) as the meditation of a run breaks into revelation to the soul. I ended up reading it all, and appreciating that my simple and slow efforts to be an athlete, as much as I can be, is a valid drive, a worthwhile part of my being a human being seeking health, happiness, satisfaction, and grace.


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?


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

Heather Cervas

This was a very enjoyable book, but I like existential writing and identified with the author. One slightly detracting element of the format was that each chapter was divided into smaller chunks, which resembled possible columns or articles he previously wrote. There was a lot of repetition in each chapter trying to drive home the same point, which towards the end of the book began to bug me. This is not a manual on running, but rather insight into the mind of a runner, and highly charged with the author's own experience; kind of like creative memoir writing. There were some dated references to the lack of research on what our dietary intake should be as well. I do think I will still recommend this to my friends.


I read this back in the height of my active running days while living in Eugene, Oregon. I loved this book because it spoke to me with great passion and meaning about one of the main sports I enjoyed participating in, along with advice about running, writing, philosophy, and life. Some where over the years I lost the book and found that it was now out of print. But I was able to find a good quality copy that was available used. The book was a great inspiration to me in terms of simple motivation and findng meaning in my running. I highly recommend it.

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.

Dani Turner

Redundant and a little out there but I feel like I've finally encountered another person who thinks and feels the way I do. Too bad he is dead.

Martin Amy

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

Jessica Peshek Alleyne

Not my favorite book on running. I actually got more into his philosophical waning more than anything else. I think if I was just like him - a slender built, born to run long-distance runner, runner - then I would have gotten more out of it. Like - "wow, that's just like me!" Wasn't the most engaging read otherwise.

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