Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Epiphany

I've been readying Dr. George Sheehan's articles for many months. I was turned on to him through a book by Jim Fixx. I won't go much into Dr. Sheehan's background as I'm sure some of you know of him. If not, you may want to look him up.

Long story short, he was a cardiologist who was an avid runner. He ran in high school, then stopped and didn't pick it up again until his mid 40's, then, five years later ran a 4:47 mile, which was the world's first sub five minute time by a 50 yr. old. He was not a fan of doctors or the entire profession as it related to runners and thought the profession did a major disservice to runners as it failed to understand how to deal and treat runners . . . this is probably why I like him. He professed that runner's know their bodies better than any doctor.

In any event, he has some of the most thoughtful writings and analysis of running and runners. Here is his website: for those that may be interested . . . click of "essays" and read a few . . . he also has several books including a New York Times best seller.

A few of his slogans/sayings are great including the following:

"Listen to your body"

"We (runners) are each an experiment of one"

"Soon after I started running and began having injuries, I made an important discovery: Running does not cause injuries. Some people run a lifetime without injury. Every one of my injuries had its roots in a structural weakness I was born with, a postural weakness I developed through training, or other stresses due to shoes and terrain. Once the problem was corrected, I was assured of pain free running." He was not comparing shod vs. unshod in his references to "shoes" but went on to say you must find "your" perfect shoe which may be "no shoe."

When doing research on the impacts and correlation of intensity, frequency and duration of running, he said, "These researchers established that frequency had the least effect on running performance. Duration became a factor only after it was reduced by two-thirds. This is not to say that frequency and duration are unimportant, but it points out the high intensity training, such as interval training and races, is the key to getting the most out of your ability."

Lastly, and what hit me the most was his article on "Each of us is an expert in the self." When talking about the advice provided by folks, he said, "Advice pours out of the radio. It fills the newspapers. It is the best selling staple of every bookstore. And to what avail? How much of this good advice is good for the individual? If good, how much is followed? If followed, how much does it change a person's life? The answer to all three questions is very little. Virtual cannot be taught. Experience must be experienced. Not one can be quite sure whose life is a success and whose is not. There comes a time when you must be your own teacher, your own coach, your own clergyman."

In closing, I'm going to follow something he went on say when posting on my site and as I speak to others about running and my experiences:

"Do not tell me what to do, tell me what you do. Do not tell me what is good for me, but tell me what is good for you. If, at the same time, you reveal the you in me, if you become a mirror of my inner self, then you have made a listener and a friend."

I'll continue to share what is good for me, what works for me, and what is good for me. But I'll stop there. I running basically injury free and I want everyone to run injury free but all of us should be careful in suggesting what works for us individually, will work for others . . . it might or it might not. The receiver of the information will be the ultimate decider.

On my long run yesterday, this popped into my mind, "The more I learn about me and my running, the less I know about you and your running."


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