Running Therapy


There is a funny little sticker that says, "Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy."

Well ironically, therapy is helping me because I haven't been able to run - 18 days and counting.

I started seeing a therapist 8 months ago after dealing with terrible insomnia for 6 months before that. I was tired of taking the sleeping pills that my primary care physician had prescribed and sought out a therapist to help me cure me of this misery.

He first had me get a series of blood tests done to rule out any physical ailments. My blood work came back normal, so we next delved into examining what was going on in my life that was depriving me of sleep.

He had me keep a daily journal to chronicle the highlights of my day, also recording my diet, exercise, hours slept. I also had to rank the quality of my day, as well as the quality of my sleep. I'd email him a copy of my journal before my appointment (at that time it was every 2 weeks) and then he would graph the data so that we could visually correlate and identify what was going on.

After a few visits it became clear that work was the primary cause. Once this was identified, my therapist taught me effective ways to deal with difficult people and impossible situations. He taught me how to look at things from a different perspective so as not to get worked up about people and situations that I have no control over. He helped me understand that I am in complete control of my reactions and emotions. Since then I have learned how to voice my opinion honestly, without fear, as well as learn how to let go of the things (or people) that weigh me down. It has worked. I feel happier, free-er and work has become much more tolerable.

I love having a third party, who is not personally or emotionally invested in my life, that I can speak honestly and freely with. There is no fear of offense or judgment; it's quite liberating. So it's comes as no surprise that I continue to see my therapist, now on a monthly basis.

In the appointment previous to CIM we had talked about how I love the structure and discipline of training for races, but how I’ve never felt that I've been able to transfer the training into having a good race -- mostly because of fear. I’ve always held back because I feared getting injured again. If you've ever been injured, you know what a physically and mentally grueling experience it can be.

So there I sat in my therapist's office (on a couch, in case you were wondering…), 10 days post-race, where what I feared most had come true.

By then I had gone through so many emotions - anger, sadness, grief, indifference. I had reached the point where I wasn't even sure I wanted to continue running and training for races. I kept asking myself, "What's the point?"

We talked about this in great detail. (I should probably mention that he is also a runner, which I didn't know before seeing him.) He asked me what would happen if I didn't run? Then he asked me what do I gain from running?

He pointed out that yes, what I feared most had come true. But similar to how I learned to deal with work…

I am in control to write my own script of what happens next.

This is now my opportunity to face my fear head on and bounce back from it.

A few months ago I had told RoadBunner that I didn't really consider myself a runner because I don't have the same passion for it that others have. I don't feel the need to run 6 days a week, I am perfectly happy to take a week off of running after a marathon, and most of all - unlike most runners, I actually love cross-training. I find non-running workouts just a satisfying as a good run.

But ever the wise one, she responded with, "But you miss it when you can't run."

And you know what? She's right. 18 days later and I do miss it. A lot.

So while I'm anxious to get back to it, I'm also trying to stay mindful of the big picture and be fully recovered before I start running again.

The one word my therapist told me to remember is "pace." He told me that this is an opportunity for me to practice pacing. Start out slow, and then build momentum so that I can have a good start to the New Year.

(My next couple of posts will be about how I’m managing not to gain a thousand pounds while injured during the holiday season, and how I’m going to start to rebuild.)