Thursday, May 24, 2012

Running and Reality Therapy - Assesing Efforts Towards Your Running Goals.

Yet another post where I put my therapist hat on along with my running shoes. 

I had a blast writing about being diagnosed with a running addiction based on the new DSM criteria

Then I followed it up with William Glasser's alternative perspective of running as a Positive Addiction.( I'ts worth noting that Glasser felt that "The DSM  is the most destructive book to human relationships that have ever been written.")

Glasser is the brain behind Reality Therapy, a here and now approach that promotes personal responsibility, self-evaluation, and planning and commitment to change. Reality Therapy asks us to decide:

1. What do we really want?
2:  What are we doing to get what we want?
3:  Evaluate, is it helping?  And then,
4. What can we do differently?  At this point, it's time to commit.

In this sense, Dr. Phil's saying "and how's that working for you" comes straight from this theory.

And in this sense, most runners are actively practicing Reality Therapy, or if not, might want to think about their running goals in this framework.

For example asking yourself:   

What do you want?  To run injury free? to qualify for boston?  to finish a marathon? to qualify for the olympics? run in a zombie run and not get caught?  run a full marathon taking pictures along the way, tweeting every half mile, and live podcasting your run?  If your goals aren't yours then you're just not gonna show up. And there's no reason to chop down a bunch of trees making a path through a forest you have no desire to be in.

This can of course be boiled down to individual runs. What do I want from this run?  Just to warm up and recover? speedwork? endurance? to reduce stress so I stop yelling at the guinea pigs?

What have you done to get it?
This is where I think a training log really helps.  Your brain won't remember things accurately, but if you can have multiple marathons' training programs on paper - and not what you were supposed to do but what you really did - it can help.  You can look back and see where you've been, and you can let others provide their feedback as well. Us runners are data freaks. Data Junkies.  We would bath in data if we could.

Is it helping? Is what you are doing getting you closer to what you need? Measure your wants versus your realities. Is training providing the the results you want?  do I keep bonking out at mile 21, yet not changing my training pattern? Am I constantly injured?Am I never happy during an event yet always finding something to blame besides my own training?  Go on any golf course, and you'll see the duffer out there, always swearing and cussing at his game, yet never changing his swings or changing his expectations.

Yes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  

And one of the unique things about marathon training is, since you typically only run one or two a year, it takes incredible patience and persistence to mix up your training and then wait months to see if it is working or not. Yes, as it is said, it's all an experiment of one.  I did a similar training pattern for nearly ten years trying to qualify for Boston (yes, I"m sick and suffering and hard-headed) and then I finally changed it up with a training plan that would look ridiculous if put into a runners world article, but it was this change that finally allowed me to nail my BQ.

What else can you do? Brainstorm ideas, something to break your pattern, get suggestions from everywhere and every person you can, and then commit to something new, but something personal. (I think many runners are as hurt by following template training plans as they are helped. Here's my secret formula). Do you need to throw in more miles or less? recover more, do more long runs, more speedwork, eat better, take more fiber?  If someone told you to stand on your head and whistle because it will help in your recovery, are you willing to try?

Then it's time to commit, and with  reality therapy, that's where the therapist/client relationship increases your accountability, gives you someone to get feedback from, as you constantly assess and evaluate if you are self-sabotaging your efforts. And this is not just through behavior but erroneous thoughts and feelings and undue self-criticism.

In running, the feedback to constantly evaluate comes from your body, your race times (possibly), your joy in running, your coach if there is one, those pains in your knees and your calves and your arse or wherever it hurts, and all those tingly little endorphins that are buzzing through your blood and seeping their way into your heart telling you "I must be doing something right."


SupermomE13 said...

Great post! I think it's important for everyone to remember with whatever we are doing in life that if something isn't working, or we aren't seeing the results we want, then that means we need to change something up.

Sheesh - I sure hope I am doing something right. :)

Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

haha....that's an interesting new parallel! i think ur assessment works and running is an ongoing chance to keep figuring out what works better, it's an evolving science AND personal journey to find what works for u. each block of training, race, etc. should end with a chance to check and find out any weak points, adjust if needed, and keep learning. great post, as always. should i call u mr. kankle from now on? just kidding, u can't swipe that title, cuz i've already retained rights on my own kankle moniker. :P

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