‘ THE MOV­ING BODY IS SO IN­FOR­MA­TIVE’

WIL­LIAM PULLEN – 49, LON­DON, RUN­NING PSY­CHOTHER­A­PIST

Runner's World (UK) - - Human Race -

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.

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