Running Quotes from George Sheehan

Inspiration From the Bestselling Author and Racing Legend

Legs and feet of runners
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George Sheehan was a physician, athlete, and author of the New York Times bestseller "Running & Being: the Total Experience." In the years leading to his death in 1993 at age 75, Sheehan would write 12 books on the sport of running which continue to inspire us today.

Here are some of Sheehan's most notable quotes from his books, interviews, and tenure as a contributor to Runner's World magazine:

George Sheehan on Motivation

  • "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually, you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."
  • "The most important thing I learned from running is that there is only one runner in this race, and that is me."
  • "Have you ever felt worse after a run?"

George Sheehan on What It Is to Be a Runner

  • "The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank."
  • "Why race? The need to be tested, the need to take risks, and the chance to be number one."
  • "Fitness is a stage you pass through on the way to becoming a racer."
  • "The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect."
  • "To know you are one with what you are doing, to know that you are a complete athlete, begins with believing you are a runner."

George Sheenan on Performance

  • "Like most runners, I always want to do better. I am constantly after myself for eating too much and training too little. I know if I weighed a few pounds less and trained a few hours more, my times would improve. But I find the rewards not quite worth the effort. I am forced, therefore, to do the best with what I've got. I must get my speed and distance from the most efficient use of my body."
  • "Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach."
  • "To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain. Not only accept it but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it."

George Sheehan on Marathons

  • "Of all the races, there is no better stage for heroism than a marathon."
  • "We who run marathons are different from those who merely study us. We are out there experiencing what they are trying to put into words. We know what they are merely trying to know. They are seeking belief, while we already believe. Our difficulty is in expressing the whole truth of that experience, that knowledge, that belief."
  • "The music of a marathon is a powerful strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith, and to become one's own person utterly and completely."
  • "For every runner who tours the world running marathons, there are thousands who run to hear the leaves and listen to the rain, and look to the day when it is suddenly as easy as a bird in flight."

George Sheehan on Believing in Yourself

  • "There will never be a day when we won't need dedication, discipline, energy, and the feeling that we can change things for the better."
  • "Out on the roads, there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be."
  • "Success rests in having the courage and endurance, and above all, the will to become the person you are."