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Running & Being: The Total Experience
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Running & Being: The Total Experience

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  538 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A New York Times bestseller for 14 weeks in 1978, Running and Being became known as the philosophical bible for runners around the world. More than thirty years after its initial publication, it remains every bit as relevant today.

Written by the late, beloved Dr. George Sheehan, Running and Being tells of the author’s midlife return to the world of exercise, play and compe
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Rodale Books (first published December 1978)
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A Recommended to me by another Buddhist running writing librarian, this book really speaks to me about what it truly means to be a runner; Sheehan has a terrific sense of humour, but also understands the spiritual side of running. While certain elements might be slightly dated, this book is a MUST for all runners!
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jim Brennan
n my June 23, 2011 blog The Thinking Man’s Runner, I wrote about several of Dr. George Sheehan’s inspiring observations about distance running. In that blog I cited one of Dr. Sheehan’s memorable quotes, “But then my fitness program was never a fitness program. It was a campaign, a revolution, a conversion. I was determined to find myself. And, in the process, found my body and the soul that went with it.” It is one of many astute observations in his book, but one that resonated with the runner ...more
I got about 20 pages into this before I bailed. I think it was somewhere around the part where Sheehan proclaimed that "Religion will always push irreligion to the wall." Sorry, no thank you. Keep your God talk away from my favorite pastime.
Laura Turbe
Twenty five years ago when I started running, George Sheehan was a great inspiration and still is. Sheehan died in 1993 but his writings have lived on. This collection of essays is classic Sheehan - highly introspective, occasionally crabby, and brutally honest. While much of this work is timeless with highlighter-worthy one-liners, I found others to be of a specific time and place, particularly his insistence of the runner as the misunderstood loner. While this may still be the case, and was pr ...more
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 ...more
I picked up this book after seeing it repeatedly advertised in Runners Worlds. I am a dedicated distance runner myself as well as a cross country and track coach..needless to say I have a true obsession with the spore. This book however in no way inspired me. Like others have stated few words in this book are actually of the author himself. The pages consist of quotations of other philosophers, theologians, and athletes. Nothing that profound is ever stated and when the author writes that he is ...more
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 poin
I am two minds about this book. In small, infrequent doses, this book often provides inspiration and insights better than most of the chronicles of running and athleticism. Its unique premise -- running as a form of organic move within one's being -- stands out among shelves of running books mainly on techniques, Marathon lore, and biographic writings on sports professionals. It intends to be a philosophic rumination of both running and being. This is vastly different from running as a performan ...more
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 t ...more
Mike Salamida
The runner-philosopher. This book reads as if Sheehan wrote the whole thing while on a runner's high. Besides Born to Run, this is the highlight of my running-book collection.
Katie Dubik Schwarz
I really, really wanted to love this book. And I definitely did love some of the essays in it--particularly Understanding, Playing, Losing, Suffering and Growing. Hmm. Maybe that says something about me... Anyway, there were so many wonderful quotations in the book; I understand how Doc Sheehan was so popular decades ago in the running boom.

I loved how he talked about running--and/or another sport--is like play. Should be approached like child's play. Do it because you love it, not because you
GS was truly the first runner philosopher of our modern era. Some of my favorites from the book:

Page 11 I look for answers on the roads. I take my tools of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and intellect and run with it. I discover a total Universe, a world that begins and ends sweat and exhaustion.

Page 35 for the runner, less is better. Life that is his work of art is understated. His needs and wants are few; he can be captured in a few strokes. One friend, a few clothes, a meal now and then
Sep 16, 2012 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
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 watchi
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 a ...more
Hs Tan
I think runners can relate to this more than non-runners. Pulls a chord when he relates running to being on meditative state, where the mind focuses on the body in motion and nothing else. For that hour or two, when i am on the road chalking up the Ks, it's just me and nothing else. Recommended read especially for those who runs and for those who doesn't, it offers them an insight to those who does.
In the Enneagram, Sheehan is probably a five, "the thinker." He was also a very skinny man. Consequently I didn't relate to his need to be alone to think or to his discussions of his thin body type. Still, the book moved me. It's not so much a book about running as it is a compilation of the essays of a philosopher. And, it's the first book I liked so well that upon finishing, I turned back to the beginning and began again. I'm not entirely certain why that was. I'll probably edit this review af ...more
Runners World had high praise for this book and a recent article in RW had me really into his writing; I was looking forward to the book. I was VERY disappointed that it was a very tedious book (switching between religious and philosophical/literary analogies) and it really lacked in its ability to re-infusing my enthusiasm for running. I decided to stop disappointing myself and quit reading 50% of the way through the book. Perhaps its because when I read "What I Talk About when I Talk About Run ...more
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 ...more
This book grew on me. Frankly, it took determination to get past the first 3rd, the middle section lacked magic, but the last 1rd wasn't so much about running as - as the title says - running and being, what we become from our efforts, how we become more (but never quite enough, thankfully) from exertion and drive and success and failure. I'm so pleased I made it to the end, it was worth the annoying and dull bits.
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.
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 i ...more
Steve Haley
Reading any Sheehan book is akin to reading what José Ortega y Gassett and Heraclitus might have collaboratively written had they been running buddies. Essentially Sheehan espouses the philosophy that running is equal parts existential discovery and vital physical activity; that by doing the work of running as play we allow ourselves to realize more of our potential as both athletes and intellectual beings. Definitely give yourself time to reread the more conceptual parts of his books.
Colin Cameron
This is the running book. Why it doesn't have 5 stars across the board is beyond me. Maybe because it is the book that turned me on to running books that weren't strictly how to train and run faster. I still pick up cheap copies from thrift stores to give to friends interested in running.
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
Brian Walker
Running parts were good, Being parts not so much. Sheehan attempts to be a philosopher by quoting hundreds of other writers, leading thinkers, and halfway philosophers. His racing stories are interesting and inspiring, just leave out the pseudo philosophy. At times I felt like it was "Deep thoughts with Jack Handey." His medical running advice was obviously outdated for a 35 year old book. I didn't like that he would quote Scripture and talk about God in his philosophizing, and then turn around ...more
Ed Stephenson
You don't have to run as well as Sheehan did to enjoy this book. His ability was definitely disheartening to me as I will never run as well as he did (even when he was older) but the thoughts and ideas in this book helped me through many runs and also helped me believe running is worthwhile for its own sake.
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 t
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.
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Dr. George A. Sheehan is best known for his books and writings about the sport of running. His book, Running & Being: The Total Experience, became a New York Times best seller. He was a track star in college, and later became a cardiologist like his father. He served as a doctor in the United States Navy in the South Pacific during World War II on the destroyer USS Daly (DD-519). He married Ma ...more
More about George Sheehan...
Going the Distance:: One Man's Journey to the End of His Life Dr. Sheehan On Running The Essential Sheehan: A Lifetime of Running Wisdom from the Legendary Dr. George Sheehan Running to Win: How to Achieve the Physical, Mental and Spiritual Victories of Running This Running Life

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“The distance runner is mysteriously reconciling the separations of body and mind, of pain and pleasure, of the conscious and the unconscious. He is repairing the rent, and healing the wound in his divided self. He has found a way to make the ordinary extraordinary; the commonplace unique; the everyday eternal.” 9 likes
“Disease, then, is one of those bad experiences that turns information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. The bad experiences that make you love yourself and your body and the world. And make you know that you are in a game that has to have a happy ending.” 3 likes
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