About The Joyful Athlete


The Joyful Athlete shares the findings of a veteran runner who worked as an editor at Runner’s World and has raced at distances from 100 yards to 100K (62.2 miles). While working toward a master’s degree at Stanford University, author George Beinhorn was paralyzed from the chest down for three years. No sooner had he recovered than a spiritual advisor urged him to start running—there would be no time for woeful reflection!

For the next 40 years, he researched ways to make training both scientific and personally rewarding. Studying the careers of hundreds of athletes, he found that the most successful shared two qualities. First, they were expansive—they had a positive outlook and exceptional energy. And they practiced “feeling-based training”—they had an uncanny ability to understand the signals their bodies were sending them.

Athletes in our western culture have become overly obsessed with numbers. The assumption is that by analyzing our training rationally, we’ll be able to achieve more consistent results and get the most enjoyment.

In practice, this premise hasn’t worked out terribly well. Athletes from cultures where intuition is honored, notably the elite runners from East Africa, continue to dominate. That’s very likely because sports training isn’t about “running the numbers.” It’s about balancing reason and feeling, working with the individual body that we must train with and whose needs constantly change.

The Joyful Athlete tells a riveting story of groundbreaking research that reveals why our bodies thrive when we cultivate expansive thoughts and feelings, and how scores of athletes at all levels have found success by “feeling-based training.”

It’s an enjoyable reading experience that will inspire athletes at all levels and in every sport. The Joyful Athlete answers the most basic question every athlete faces: “How can I be successful and enjoy my training too?”

Read the first two chapters. Order the book.


free_weights_are_good“Your book is tremendous. It has powerfully influenced my own practice, and I am recommending it to all my coaches plus our students as part of a ‘bodymind’ curriculum unit.” – Krista Scott-Dixon, founder of Stumptuous.com, a leading strength training website for women.


Clarence Bass, Mr. America, Over 40 Short Class“George Beinhorn and I have independently concluded that success in training (and life) comes from listening to your body and mind and finding your own ever-changing path to self-actualization. Eloquent and expansive in his exposition, Beinhorn has written an exceptional book for fitness-minded individuals of every persuasion.” — Clarence Bass, two-times Mr. America in his height and age class, author of the bodybuilding classic RIPPED and nine other books on leanness, fitness, and health (the latest is Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science).


m-holland“Based on scientific research, the experiences of elite runners, traditional training methods, and stories of athletes’ experiences, this book clearly establishes the precedence of an expansive heart in harvesting power and joy from exercise and from all that we do.” — Michael Holland, former Stanford University specialty coach for flexibility, strength, speed, power, and nutrition

Sally and John Smallen. (Click to enlarge.)
Sally and John Smallen.

“Beyond being a wonderful book, this is a doorway to new ways of training that can help us find joy. It’s entertaining, readable, and the author writes beautifully. There are lots of people who could benefit from this information, but they won’t find it anywhere else. I deeply enjoyed The Joyful Athlete. — John Smallen, marathon PR 2:37, 50 miles sub-7:00

asha“Since reading The Joyful Athlete, my daily aerobic exercise has become more interesting and rewarding on levels that go far beyond the body. This book showed me undreamed-of ways to get my mind, body, and spirit exercising in harmony. I believe it will help many people, and it’s extremely well-written and enjoyable to read.” — Asha Praver, recreational swimmer, inspirational speaker, author, Loved and Protected

Kristina better“Whether you’re an elite athlete or a sedentary person who never exercises, you’ll find this book wonderfully readable, earthy and inspiring. As I read, I thought over and over that it’s a book about much more than sports and exercise. It’s about ways of having a happier life in whatever we do – as parents, partners, and business leaders. I’m not an athlete – my “sport” is walking with friends. Yet I particularly enjoyed the parts of the book about following our hearts, and balancing logic and reason by listening to our calm, intuitive feelings. Every page had useful insights that inspired me.” — Kristina Stone

About the Author

I’m not a superstar athlete – far from it. I’m a writer and editor who discovered, early in his 44-year running career, that the best training is also the most enjoyable. When the body performs at a high level, we feel wonderful.

Mr. Oldandslow in his ultrarunning days, bagging it during an outing on Mt. Tamalpais in 1998.
Mr. Oldandslow in his ultrarunning days, bagging it during a 7-hour outing on Mt. Tamalpais in 1998.

I’m not qualified to write about what it’s like to be a world-class runner. That’s why The Joyful Athlete isn’t about me – it’s about all of us, joggers and Olympic champions alike.

In The Joyful Athlete, I report what others have done – in the field and in the lab. I hugely enjoyed the quest for  knowledge about the inner side of sports. The Joyful Athlete is my gift to every athlete who wants to train well and enjoy it.

I received BA and MA degrees from Stanford University in the mid-1960s. I’ve been a runner since 1968. I worked at Runner’s World from 1972-76. Now 74, I live in Mountain View, California, where I work as an editor while I continue to explore expansive sports.

Drop me a note through the contact page. I love to hear from other athletes and respond promptly.

2 thoughts on “About The Joyful Athlete”

  1. I came across your article Breathless. When was this written? I am Ian Jackson’s daughter and I wanted to thank you for your kind words of Ian and support for his life’s work. He is unmeasurably missed every second of every day with each out breath and in breath.

  2. Hello BreAnna,

    Wonderful to hear from Ian’s daughter. Ian and I were roommates in approximately 1973-74 when we both worked at Runner’s World. I wrote the article a couple years ago when Ian and I communicated and he sent me a set of the Breathplay CDs – very interesting! I well remember a performance that Ian gave at a Runner’s World national get-together, I think it was a National Running Week with big-name guests from the running world. Ian did yoga postures to music – it was inspiring and moving. He was always on the cutting edge of thought and philosophy – “nudging the edges,” as he used to say back then. I wish I had asked him more questions about sports training generally; I think I’d have avoided a lot of wasted time. I remember driving him to the regional 50-K championships, which he won. He was a phenomenal athlete, just chugging along happily for 31.1 miles in the farmland north of Sacramento, far ahead of the other competitors. I carried water and fuels in my ’72 VW Bug, but he didn’t consume much. He is missed.



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