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A Tribute to a Great Running Influence

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I grew up running with the influences of Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan was a cardiologist who who became a philosopher of recreational running in the 1970's and 1980's. His inspiring quotes and motivational philosophy were appreciated by runners of every level. He wrote 8 books and his motivation continues to live on today. When I want to get inspired - Dr. Sheehan never lets me down. The following is one of my favorite excerpts taken from Dr. Sheehan's book, Going the Distance, the last book he wrote and it published shortly after his death. Be encouraged ... be motivated...

Why do I run? I have written over the years of the benefits I receive from running. Enumerated the physical and mental changes. Listed the emotional and spiritual gains. Charted the improvement that has taken place in my person and my life. What I have not emphasized is how transient these values and virtues are. With just a little thought, however, it should be evident that physical laws parallel those of the mind and the spirit. We know that the effects of training are temporary. I cannot put fitness in the bank. If inactive, I will detrain in even less time than it took me to get in shape. And since my entire person is influenced by my running program, I must be constantly in training. Otherwise the sedentary life will inexorably reduce my mental and emotional well-being. So, I run each day to preserve the self I attained the day before. And coupled with this is the desire to secure the self yet to be. There can be no let up. If I do not run I will eventually lose all I have gained-and my future with it. Maintenance was a favorite topic of Eric Hoffer. It made the difference, said the former longshoreman, between a country that was successful and one that failed. However magnificent the achievement, without constant care the result was decay. I know the experience intimately. There is nothing more brief than a laurel. Victory is of the moment. It must be followed by another victory and then another. I have to run just to stay in place. Excellence is not something attained and put in a trophy case. It is not sought after, achieved and, thereafter, a steady state. It is a momentary phenomenon, a rare conjunction of body, mind, and spirit at one's peak. Should I come to that peak I cannot stay there. I must start each day at the bottom and climb to the top. And then beyond that peak to another and yet another. Through running I have learned what I can be and do. My body is now sensitive to the slightest change. It is particularly aware of any decline or decay. I can feel this lessening of the "me" that I have come to think of myself. Running has made this new me. Taken the raw material and honed it and delivered it back ready to do the work of a human being. I run so I do not lose the me I was yesterday and the me I might become tomorrow.

Thank you George Sheehan.

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