Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Introducing my Whizzy Brain to Running Therapy


I love to buy a new book – the feel, smell, texture and anticipation of what I may learn; and  I always carry a book to read (in paper format; not electronic) should I get a spare few minutes during the day. I especially delight in the chance to combine my interests and as such I was drawn to ‘Run for your Life - Mindful Running for a Happy Life’ (William Pullen 2017), being keen to learn more about how my emerging interest in running can come together with my passion for counselling and therapy, and Pullen’s ‘Dynamic Running Therapy’ looked a fortuitous option.
I have wrote in previous blogs about the progress with my running; my Fitbit challenge and ParkRun high, and the endorphin rush this leaves behind. I am finding being outdoors and exercising, through walking or running, is an important part of self-care during my counselling training. This is something that is developing alongside my integrative approach to counselling and feels important as I explore my style of being alongside my values and beliefs.

Through my (steady and rudimentary) approach to running (so far) I find that my mind is clearer for the day ahead and I have created that all important head-space. My body has a gentle ache but is energised and I am listening to my body with regards to sensations such as for hunger or thirst, and when to rest and move. When I am running outdoors I focus on getting past the undulations on route; embracing the need to push through an early ‘wall’ as the park inclines and then feeling and being as high as the clouds (almost literally in parts of Sheffield!) and relishing in downhill all the way home. I can feel the strain and relaxation in my legs at different points in the course and noticing how my breathing eventually settles in a rhythm that I then stop to notice.

So, I felt prepared to apply some of the techniques from Dynamic Running Therapy and take these with me as I run. DRT is not an exercise programme but a way of using mindfulness techniques and grounding exercises to prepare for running (or walking) during which you can deal with issues that may come to mind, or which you may plan to address as you run. The book gives suggestions and space to journal any thoughts afterwards.I set out to focus on time and space and see what comes to mind.

According to Pullen “DRT is really about the journey and not the destination, so be patient and keeping moving” and Pullen uses  ‘the journey’ chapter to set out the incentives and introduce the grounding techniques. Readers of my blog will know  I have debated the linguistic journey and what this means here, and therefore I am embracing my experience with DRT as series of events that can be of different times, speeds and distances; and not yet ready for this to be a journey.  (Interestingly this week I heard someone call ‘the journey’ a marmite phrase within counselling; for some counsellors it conceptualises their style and approach; others are keen to avoid). But I am a lover of words and meaning. I like to think, ruminate, use a 100 words when 10 will do. Words are powerful and we use these to construct and give meaning to our identities. Some descriptors are comforting and make sense to us; others feel alien and don’t connect.


For me, running helps these words disappear and the head-space enables them to come back to make sense. I find I am rehearsing a conversation I may need to have, (or want to have) or a report I need to write, as I am connecting with the ground, the air, the weather and the body. For a while I also stop thinking and my brain stops whizzing; making space for other muscles to have a turn. If I view my whizzy brain as another muscle then for me DRT enables me to quieten this muscle and allows others to be active. Afterwards, when other muscles are resting post-run, my brain can spark and whizz again and I can resume my work and studies; evaluating, questioning, analysing and reflecting. I may even buy another book.

Thank you for reading for blog.

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