Saturday, March 6, 2010

Homage to Dr. George Sheehan (Part 2 of 3)

This is the 2nd of 3 posts. Part 1 is here. I'll repeat the intro here:

Back in my road racing days, before I saw the light and embraced UltraRunning, the poet-philosopher of the running boom was Dr. George Sheehan. This post is in his honor.

He was a prolific author of running books, focusing on the mental aspects of running, and was a regular contributor to Runner's World. I had several of his books and would reread them frequently, especially prior to a marathon, as the message never seemed to get old. Here are some of my all-time favorite quotes, excerpted from Running and Being--the Total Experience, by Dr. George Sheehan. These are timeless and equally apply to a 50 miler as to a road race.

I'll limit the quotes to 5, a short manageable number, and divvy up the list into 3 posts, on March 4th, 6th and 8th:

6. “Ted Williams,” wrote John Updike, “is the classic player on a hot August weekday when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill. Because he was one of those who always cared, who care about themselves and their art.”

7. Being an athlete introduces another decisive element. The runner-doctor knows that health has nothing to do with disease. Health has to do with functioning and wholeness and reaching your level of excellence. My health has to do with my life style, with moderation of my soul and the body. It is a matter of discipline of my total person. And my health can be maximized even when disease is present. There is, I find, a healthy way to live your disease. Disease may change or modify my excellence, but it does not remove excellence as a possibility.

8. “There are thresholds which thought alone can never permit us to cross,” wrote Gabriel Marcel. “An experience is needed.”

9. I suddenly found what must be the essence of running. I would, I said to myself, just concentrate on finding the perfect running form. I would find the pace at which I could run forever. Then let my inner body take over.

10. And in this perfection, this ease of movement, this harmony, this rhythmic breathing of life into life, I am able to let my mind wander. I absent myself from road and wind and the warm sun. I am free to meditate, to measure the importance of things.

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