Running and Being : A Book Review

I just finished reading my favorite running book of all time, Dr. George Sheehan’s masterpiece Running and Being.  You can already see my bias coming into the review, but here goes…

This book was written in 1978, a time when running (or jogging as many referred to it back then) was starting to explode, but the book itself is timeless.

Dr. Sheehan was a philosopher, a doctor, and a runner.  He was a track star in college, but got away from running in his adult life as he practiced cardiology.  It wasn’t until he was 45 that he renewed his old love for running and began running in his yard (26 loops to a mile).  At that time, he was overweight and out of shape.  5 years later, at the age of 50, he ran the worlds first sub-5 mile by a 50 year old.

But that’s not what this book is about.  In Running & Being: The Total Experience Dr. Sheehan discusses and philosophizes the importance of play.  In fact, most of the book isn’t about running at all, it’s about being and playing. Running wasn’t a means to an end (losing weight, staying in shape, living longer), it was a form of play in which all forms of life could participate.

When you read Running & Being, you’ll continually find yourself saying “My God, that’s exactly how I feel.  We’re the same!”  Well, the truth is that we runners are all the same.  Dr. Sheehan just has the rare ability to put all of our thoughts into words on a page.

Everyone in my life knows I’m a runner, there’s really no hiding it.  So when someone wants to try out this whole “running” thing, they usually ask me for my advice on how to get started. My first response is always the same, to read this book.  It won’t teach you how to run, but it will teach you how to have fun doing it.  And if you learn how to have fun with it, the rest will come.

And for those that already love running I also recommend it, but for a different reason.  If you love running, at some point you’ve probably had difficulty understanding why.  And you’ve probably had friends and family ask you hundreds of times why you run.  Running and Being will answer that.

I was reluctant to write a review for this book, because I know it comes across as doting.  But then I realized that a lot of people will read this, and a few might actually go buy it and read it.  And that, to me,  makes it worth it.

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