Tag Archives: George Sheehan

Motivation Monday: Assessing where I am

Should your resting pulse be in the 55-60 range, you are an out-of-shape athlete with great endurance potential. You are missing out on some particularly satisfying sports experience. A sedentary individual with a resting pulse in the 50s may well have remarkable talent for endurance events.

…this baseline pulse can tell nonathletes just how bad things are– and how good things can be. Individuals with a pulse in the 90s are cheating themselves of an active life. Those in the 70s are settling for less than they can get. If you are in the low 60s you could be living those dreams of glory.
— George Sheehan in “On Assessing” in his book How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day

Tomorrow morning I am going to take my resting pulse and measure the circumference of my calves, thighs, hips, waist and chest using a tape measure as suggested by Sheehan in the chapter and book above (I would do it tonight, but I can’t find the tape measure and need to ask my wife when she returns home where it is). This morning, I already weighed myself as part of the WeightWatchers program I recently started. I weighed in at 213, the same weight where I began with WeightWatchers a few weeks ago. I had dropped three pounds, but then over the last few weeks, have regained that same amount.

One other part of the assessment involves testing how far I can go in 12 minutes. Sheehan suggests using a quarter-mile track, usually available at the local high school. I suppose even with sports practices beginning this week, if I get there earlier enough in the morning, I will have no problem doing that. Sheehan also has included aerobic tables from Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper to tell you how you rate on the fitness ladder using maximal oxygen consumption as a baseline.

I already took my resting pulse about half an hour ago and it was at about 60. So I feel encouraged by what Sheehan wrote, but know that I have a long way to go. Plus I know that from being able to complete the 25.9 mile Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect in 2007 that I have endurance already. It’s just a matter of regaining it.

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This post is also being crossposted at my main blog, an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe).


Working on keeping my house in order

The major ethical advance of this century, according to Thomas Merton, has been the development of the ecological conscience. Ecology derives from the Greek word for “house.” Ecology is a study of the interrelationships within our environment, both internal and external. Basically, it is the matter of keeping our house in order. We have littered and polluted and dirtied our house over the past century; now we are trying to put it in order. The same ecological conscience applies to the house that is our body.

In raising our awareness toward what technology is doing to our environment, we ignore what technology is doing to our inner environment. The indifference and arrogance we have expressed toward our natural resources, we are still expressing by abusing our personal resources– psychological and spiritual.

George Sheehan in Chapter 4, On Sleeping,
in How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day

Sheehan goes on to mention what former California Governor Jerry Brown says on the stewardship we have been given for the earth. Sheehan says that “we have the same responsibility to care for our bodies and our minds…” One way to do that is to listen to the circadian rhythms, to be lived, to “be acted out so that each of us gets the most out of the bodies we inhabit.” By the end of the chapter, he concludes that we need to listen to what our body clocks are telling us: the cliche “early to bed, early to rise…” again is here.


This morning, while I made it up up at 5:30, by 8 a.m., I was back in bed, thanks to a debilitating allergy headache and not out on Sand Run Falls Trail as planned. My own circadian rhythm was thrown off with a couple of short naps throughout the day, thanks to headaches that just stopped me in my tracks, even with pain killers. However, tonight, when it looked light it might rain (although, of course, it didn’t), I went to the gym instead. Luckily, no conventions on the television sets (no one was there) and I was able to run about 20 minutes on each the treadmill and elliptical. I must have been doing something right, because I was covered in sweat.

Tomorrow: Day of rest, and then run around town on Friday, before long run on Saturday.

Early to bed, early to rise…the cliche is true

Once you find something that is playful and addictive and filled with satisfaction, your daily budget takes care of itself.

…no matter how long and proper the preparation, no matter how strong and enduring the motivation, we cannot add a new activity to our life without taking something else out.

George Sheehan in Chapter 3 of How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day

After this morning’s hike up Mount Tom, I read the above quotes from the late George Sheehan. Both are something I am beginning to learn are true, and are interrelated for me. What I mean by that is this: Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been working on getting up at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday to read from the Liturgy of the Hours, followed by a run, and for the most part, with maybe one glitch, I’ve been pretty successful. I’ve noticed that the daily budget is beginning to take care of itself, and that with adding two new activities to my life, I have taken out two things: namely staying up late and getting up late.

It wasn’t that I’d always stay up late or get up late. However, as a freelance writer who works from home, I’d find myself thinking I could stay up and then sleep in once in a  while. Now I’m learning that as ironic as it seems, by getting up earlier and going to bed earlier, I’m actually having more time in my day to do things– and for the most part, having more energy throughout the day (I still take naps, but not as long — which probably also is helping with me not staying up late).

An aside: Last night I received a response to one of my blog entries from a fellow blogger about how she’s getting up at 5 to run for an hour and then do a strength training program from 6 to 7. God bless her, because it’s been rough enough for me to get up at 5:30 and then start my run between 6:30 and 7. I applaud her for sticking with it.

Tomorrow: Sand Run Falls.

The rhythm of life is a powerful beat

Amiel, the Swiss philosopher, wrote in his journal that “the morning air breathes a new and laughing energy into the veins and marrow. Every dawn is a new contract with existence.” The dawn, Amiel said, is a time for projects, for resolution, for the birth of action.

Early to bed, early to rise, is good advice whether you arrive home tired out or not. It is, for one thing, the classic physiology. It is the first choice of our body, the natural way to live. Were we to follow our body rhythms, those circadian cycles, it would e the normal way to spend our alloted, unchanging 24 hours. The gradual buildup in our physiological function and then the gradual decline, the flooding and ebbing of the tides in our body, are matched by our physical and mental activity. The closer we get to following the rhythms of the earth, the closer we get to our own internal rhythms.

Early rising puts us in harmony with those rhythms. It is truly a great beginning. Early rising followed by an early morning workout is an even better one.

George Sheehan in “How To Feel Great 24 Hours A Day”

Last week I shared my ideas for a new daily schedule that I wrote down on a rock.

rock to tie a piece of string around

  • 5:30: MP (an abbreviation for Morning Prayer, using the Liturgy of the Hours)
  • 6:30: Run (Exercise of some kind, if gym for a couple of days, that also will be good)
  • 7:30: Sheehan (read George Sheehan or one of the other aforementioned authors: John Bingham, Jeff Galloway, what I consider the Trinity of Running Writers.
  • 8:30 Blog

On the back I wrote only two times:

  • 4:30 EP (an abbreviation for Evening Prayer)
  • 9:30-10:30: Bed (which would leave me 7-8 hours of sleep)

So I thought that for this week’s Feetfirst Friday, I’d give an update on how I’m doing so far this first week.

First things first, I’ve decided to use the schedule Monday through Friday and not every day. However, that said I still want to be up by at least 8 a.m., if not earlier on Saturday and Sunday. Naturally, the schedule of events will be adjusted also.

This morning while out on my run/walk/hike/crawl up Mount Tom, I realized that — speaking of rhythms — I have to go with my own weekly rhythm. What is my own weekly rhythm? On Mondays, I’m all raring to go, but after three straight days of going Monday through Wednesday, by Thursday, I feel burnt out. This past week just showed that to me as I started out well with my exercise each day, but by Thursday, I was beginning to flag.

So with that in mind, and keeping with my own weekly rhythm, I’m going to take Thursdays off from strenous exercise as well as Sundays, which I already do. Does that mean I won’t do anything on Thursdays or on Sundays? No, I might still go for a walk or a short hike, but not an all-out run.

So after some minor tweaking, the schedule for now– at least until the snow is too deep to climb– Mount Tom is:

  • Monday: Run — around town
  • Tuesday: Mt. Tom
  • Wednesday: Run — preferably Sand Run Falls Trail
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Mt. Tom
  • Saturday: Longer run — starting with 6-8 miles and going up from there
  • Sunday: Off

Next week, I’ll give another update on how the new more realistic schedule is working.

For now, I’ll leave you with this about The Rhythm of Life, well, sort of.

Everyone wants a rock to wind a piece of string around

“We live in an open universe,” said William James, “in which uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possibilities are natural.”

But if the universe is unfinished, so are we. Each one of us is, in fact, an open universe. Each one of us is a microcosm of uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possiblities. Each one of us is an unfinished person in this unfinished universe. And each one of us feels an infinite and mysterious obligation to complete ourselves and somehow contribute to the completion of the universe.

The late George Sheehan wrote these words in his book, This Running Life, in 1980, and is the basis for the title of my main blog, an unfinished person (in an unfinished universe). (It sounded better than having as the title of my main blog “a microcosm of uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possiblities,” don’t you think?) Beginning with today’s post here on Just A (Running) Fool, I will be starting each post from now on with a quote from Sheehan or other runner gurus such as John Bingham and Jeff Galloway, to name just a couple from whom I might quote in the future.

However, this new addition to my blog isn’t the only change that’s starting today. It is only one of many, which already have begun before my even writing this post.

On Saturday afternoon, The Wife and I went out to the Pine Creek Trail near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which is near where we live. She walked along the trail; I headed up Mount Tom. As I was crawling the last 6/10s of a mile to the top, I suddenly had a few ideas for a new daily schedule that I wanted to write down, but unfortunately, I had nothing on which to write, let alone a writing utensil.

When I sat down on a rock at the top of the mountain, I started scratching out the schedule on one of the large rocks there with a smaller rock.  The problem was I couldn’t carry this big stone rock back down the hill. So what to do? I found a smaller rock and scratched out my ideas.

rock to tie a piece of string around

"Everybody wants a rock to wind a piece of string around..."

For those of you who can’t read my writing, here is what I wrote on the front of the rock:

  • 5:30: MP (an abbreviation for Morning Prayer, using the Liturgy of the Hours)
  • 6:30: Run (Exercise of some kind, if gym for a couple of days, that also will be good)
  • 7:30: Sheehan (read George Sheehan or one of the other aforementioned authors: John Bingham, Jeff Galloway, what I consider the Trinity of Running Writers.
  • 8:30 Blog

On the back I wrote only two times:

  • 4:30 EP (an abbreviation for Evening Prayer)
  • 9:30-10:30: Bed (which would leave me 7-8 hours of sleep)

So this morning I was up at 5:30 and while not out the door by 6:30, I did make it out by 6:40 for a run through the local cemetery and was back by 7:25. Some days, as I go to Mount Tom, which is several miles outside of town — to which I drive– and another trail, which is a considerable distance from where I live, the time will be adjusted somewhat. However, for the most part, I’d like to stick as close to the schedule as I can.

Getting up earlier is something toward which I’ve been working for the last couple of years, with many failed attempts. However, it is something I have decided toward which I need to continue to strive, and hopefully publicly displaying my schedule will help to hold me accountable. The Wife already is on board with this, even asking, “If you don’t get up, do you want me to roust you from bed?” And I said, “Yes,” because I want this to work.

I know it won’t be easy, but I am confident that I can do it. Plus I have all of you (the one or two regular readers of this blog, not that I don’t appreciate you, mind you, at least, somebody is reading it — at least, I hope so, if not que sera, sera ) to hold me accountable.

Note: Along with the new start today, I’ve added a new theme to the blog. The photo of me in the header is at the top of the Chilkoot at the Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect last year. I wanted the picture to remind me for what I’m working: to get ready for this year’s Megatransect, Oct. 4, only 46 days away!

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