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Why Runners Need A Therapist (and what I would say to mine)

I have worked in the behavioral health setting for many years and in many settings.  I have been both the conductor and consumer in therapy sessions. I am a big believer in therapy. They say the majority of folks in therapy are either the most mentally ill or the most mentally fit. I’ve slept nights in both camps and have friends in both places.

I do hate the phrase “you need therapy” since it’s often said with spitefulness. In fact, I don’t think anybody needs therapy.  We do need support and change and growth and insight. If we can get that by knitting or playing badminton or collecting bobbleheads instead of talk therapy, then that’s fine.
However, with how neurotic runners are, and how much we love to talk about running, we need therapy. Face it, we bore people to death. Our spouses, our co-workers, even other runners. We are in the same group as the fantasy football guy who loves to tell you all about his six teams every Monday morning. (mental yawn, “is he done talking yet?”)

That’s why we need therapy. Neurosis sweats from our pores. The stench of Obsessive-Compulsiveness follows us everywhere. And for that, We Need Therapy. Runner therapy. Not just the mechanics and how to run faster and more efficient and injury free and training plans and all of that, but something that goes beyond coaching (although I’m sure some coaches offer therapy.)  Since running is a physical manifestation of what’s going on inside of us, we need someone who can give their full attention as we discuss how our running life is mixing in with our psyche, our spirit, our minds, and our body. 

For example and with that in mind, here could be:

Things I want to Discuss with my Runner Therapist (and what they might say back)

“I like to think I’m a bad-ass runner, but then I read all about the Leadville 100 and Ironmen events. How do I keep on just pretending these races don’t exist so I can feel like a beast?”

You’ve always been good at Denial. Just keep lying to yourself and go about your little 26.2 milers.

“My average everyday running pace has crept up from 8 minute miles to 9 minute miles, and I fear this is here to stay. It’s like I’m running in wet cement when I want to feel like I’m running down hotel hallways. I swear that’s when I ran the fastest.”

Forward is a pace, drop the Ego. Stop running in hallways.

“I went on some gorgeous vacation runs last week, and now I’m feeling so drab about the lame sidewalks I am stuck running on. It’s been depressing.”

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know

“My knees have been consistently hurting, and I fear that all those who told me running is bad for my knees are going to say, “I told you so.””

Melt down all your race medals into a boiling pot of molten lava and pour it over their heads.

“I’m aging, not recovering fast, and golfing the back nine of life means recovery takes time.”

            And soon someone else will be wiping your ass and your feces will feed the grass and the antelope will eat the grass and I will eat the antelope. It’s all part of the circle of life. 

“Is Cherry juice the new chocolate milk? And does this KT-tape make me look weird? And why do I insist on wearing shorts and black compression socks to family outings even though my dad snickers? And sometimes when I am running I realize a clown is behind me, nipping at my heels, and I turn to see his big red nose and big red hair and I try to scream but I can’t. What does this clown mean? Death? Childhood fears?  And yesterday a car almost hit me and I had so much rage I called a poor old man a ‘stupid fucker’ and I went home and wanted to cry. Why am I so angry? Will the New York Marathon be safe? Does running add something good to my life or take away something bad?  And why do you call it a therapy hour when it’s only 45 minutes anyways?  Does my insurance cover this?”

Time’s Up


Sara said…
This. Is. Awesome. I can appreciate both sides to this, as you say. Marvelous. I'm sharing this! Hope all is well with you and yours.

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