‘ THE MOVING BODY IS SO INFORMATIVE’
WILLIAM PULLEN – 49, LONDON, RUNNING PSYCHOTHERAPIST
PULLEN trained as a psychotherapist after finding that talking while running helped him work through a difficult period in his own life. He founded Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) in 2013, a psychotherapy system that incorporates therapeutic mindfulness exercises into physical activity.
I’M NOT A NATURAL
RUNNER. When I started 11 years ago I was depressed. Knowing the healing benefits of exercise and fresh air, I decided to make these central to my recovery. I could barely do a quarter of a mile at first but I soon became familiar with the sense of ease that came from talking and moving at the same time.
I TRAINED AS A
THERAPIST, with the goal of developing a method based on my own experience and my belief that therapy and running are stronger together than they are separately. WHEN YOU ARE SIDE BY SIDE WITH SOMEONE, it’s easier to communicate openly compared with being face to face. And moving forwards physically helps you move forwards psychologically.
IT’S ALSO ABOUT BEING
OUTSIDE. Studies have shown exercising in a natural environment can make people feel revitalised and more energetic, as well as less tense, confused, angry and depressed. SOME CLIENTS WORRY that they won’t be able to talk and run at the same time, but each session is client-led. Just getting a bit of a sweat on is enough. You don’t need to be a hard-core runner.
I MONITOR THEIR PACE AND POSTURE WHILE
WE RUN and track it against what they are saying. For example, if a client suddenly slows down or speeds up I know we may have touched on something powerful.
DRT WORKS PARTICULARLY WELL
FOR DEPRESSION. As well as getting you out in the fresh air it adds a sense of competency and achievement to your journey. I DON’T JUST TAKE CLIENTS FOR A RUN. There’s more structure to it than that. One part is establishing the question of the day – having something specific to explore while we move, along with the feelings it brings up.
THE MOVING BODY IS SO
INFORMATIVE. How you run may reflect how you act in the wider world. Some people are slow to start and then take off – for others it’s the other way around. It’s useful to reflect this back to the client to see if something similar is happening in their lives as a whole. MOST YEARS I DO A HALF MARATHON AND A FEW 10KS. I need to stay in shape for my clients. It’s good for my mental health too. If something is troubling me I often find I’ve gained perspective after a run.
I PREFER TO RUN WITH
OTHERS. I’m still that guy who loves the connection you get through running. Walking I often do alone, slowly and meditatively. I look at every branch, each leaf, try to take it all in – that way, I remember the scale of things and my place within them.
MAKING PROGRESS DRT is designed to help clients move towards the change they need in life.
William Pullen’s book, Runforyourlife: Mindfulrunning forahappylife (Penguin), and app, Dynamic Running Therapy ( Apple IOS), are available now.