If John Lennon was the “Thinking Man’s Beatle,” then Dr. George Sheehan was the “Thinking Man’s Runner.” He was the first person I’d read with the clairvoyance to translate the stream of consciousness that flows through a distance runner’s mind into words.
In his book, Running and Being, published in 1978, Dr. Sheehan wrote, “True, running does not fill my day. But it influences the rest of what I do and how I do it. From it, comes my role and the style in which I play. In it, I find myself and my design. I start in play, use myself increasingly, and end in joy.” He was a man before his time.
Most distance runners try to remember how they got hooked on the sport and come to the obvious conclusion – fitness. But that is too simplistic. The good doctor summed up his devotion to running this way, “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.”
Dr. Sheehan’s observations about running and life were authoritative and insightful. He always talked about the hour run on the river road and once wrote in a letter, “…running operates on all levels, during our hour run the road is at once a gymnasium, a laboratory, a classroom, even a temple.” Dr. George Sheehan should be remembered as the “Thinking Man’s Runner.”