Sheehan not only told why a person would want to run, but he also gave me hope that I might be able to increase my mileage and maybe even run 26 miles and 385 yards.
For those of us who have been running since the '60s, George Sheehan has emerged as our spokesman. His account of his experiences in the '76 and '77 Boston Marathons was a sheer joy to read.
Dr. Sheehan expresses an attitude toward physical fitness that I hope will become as popular as running itself. With fitness come self-confidence and pride, qualities that Sheehan possesses and expresses so well.
Dr. Sheehan's grim depiction of distance running as some sort of masochistic ego-trip ritual is one that many of us who participate in the sport are not fully prepared to accept. Pain and the mystique of overcoming it are but one facet of the total experience of running, an experience that should make one feel better, not worse. If Dr. Sheehan is suffering so much, perhaps he ought to pause at the top of the hill, sniff the wild flowers, enjoy the view and contemplate the long, happy run downhill.
Santa Monica, Calif.
One should not randomly criticize elderly physicians who keep their bodies in reasonably good physical condition. This is an admirable characteristic. However, reading Dr. Sheehan's article reminds me of Mark Twain's description of a politician making a speech down around Aurora, Nev. The fellow had an inflated idea of his own accomplishments, and his speech could be only partially written up in the newspaper because the typesetter ran out of the capital letter I.
Many of us physicians are frustrated athletes, and certainly there is no harm in doing as well as we can. However, to imply that completion of the marathon is a feat practically equivalent to the Resurrection is somewhat wearisome.
ROBERT R. MCIVOR, M.D.
The method of taking one's pulse described by Dr. Sheehan—that is, by grasping both carotid arteries simultaneously—is a risky practice that may lead to fainting, dangerous heart-slowing, etc. A safer technique is to take the pulse of one carotid artery or—easier yet—measure the radial pulse by placing the index and middle fingers across the wrist so that their tips are on the thumb side of the hand.
Forest Park, Ill.
ONE FOR POPCORN
Concerning your reference to Bill Walton sitting in the stands eating popcorn and watching his teammates in the NBA playoffs (Why Is This Man Eating Popcorn? April 17), I resent the fact that you call popcorn junk food. It is in fact good food and good for you. It is only when you put tons of salt, seasoning and butter on popcorn that it takes on the aspects of junk food.
GARY A. FREITAS
San Jose, Calif.