I went to hypnotherapy to see if it would help me feel better about running the marathon

July 13, 2017

I know it doesn’t matter, that it’s not a matter of life or death (well…people do drop dead every year but not many).
I also know that if I get a crap time, I’m not going to get fired and there won’t be any really negative implications because I’m not a professional athlete.
But that hasn’t stopped running-based anxieties.
At night, I lie awake thinking about what sorts of pain I’ll be in by mile 18. How awful the wall will be. What will happen when the inevitable cramp attack kicks in.
I worry about how embarrassing it’ll be to crawl over the finish line – as a fitness writer – way over the average time.

When people ask me how training’s going, I go off on how I haven’t done enough (not a lie) and how much of a slog it’s all becoming.
In truth, I love running and I enjoy working out. The amount of time I’m spending training isn’t the problem – it’s how much I’m doing in comparison to everyone else that’s freaking me out. Just start following a few runners on Instagram or join a couple of running groups on Facebook and you’ll see that everyone’s out on a Sunday running a mad number of miles.
What if I’m simply not at the stage that I need to be at?
Those worries are called ‘what if’ questions. And according to the hypnotherapist I consulted earlier this week, they’re one of the biggest things stopping me from achieving success on the big day.
Rory James MacLaren-Jackson is a clinical hypnotherapist at Advanced Hypnosis London – a clinic on Harley Street.
He deals a lot with professional boxers, helping them reach their target weights at weigh-ins and achieve success in the ring. And I went to see him to see if he could do something similar for me on the start line.

We started with a general chat about the marathon.
Rory asked me how I saw myself in relation to the event. Would I call myself a marathon runner?
Absolutely not.
Why? Because I haven’t run one yet and I feel about as far removed from the marathon runners I know and see online and on my long runs as possible.
I’m short and a bit stocky. I don’t have a tracker watch. I don’t take protein shakes. I don’t read running magazines. I don’t qualify to be called anything else than a recreational fitness runner – someone who runs to avoid putting on weight and with no sense of competition in mind.
And that’s the first thing Rory addressed.
Americans, he told me, deal with hypnotherapy in a very different way to us Brits. They pick a statement of intent and say it to themselves over and over again.
I am a marathon runner, I am a marathon runner, I AM A F*CKING MARATHON RUNNER.I went to hypnotherapy to see if it would help me feel better about running the marathon
In this country, we’re a bit more self-deprecating. We don’t just believe something huge because we say it. We want to qualify things.
Instead, Rory got me to choose an ‘acceptable’ word to fill the sentence ‘I am a…marathon runner’. And after a few minutes, we agree on ‘trainee’.
‘I am a trainee marathon runner’ is far more digestible for two reasons. One: you acknowledge that you’re on the very bottom rung of the marathon running ladder – but you’re on it, you’re doing it, you’re part of the club. Second: as a trainee, small things are bound to go wrong – that’s the point of trainee schemes. There’s no pressure because you have to expect the odd blip.
Already I was feeling a great sense of relief.
Next, we discussed how to kill my inner ‘Maybe Person’.
When asked what my goal was, I said that I was merely aiming to get to the finish line alive – but everyone else seemed to have a time set out for me that I was worried about falling short of.
I went to hypnotherapy to see if it would help me feel better about running the marathon

‘By being allowed to remain uncertain and without precision, you don’t have to commit authentically to the process of change,’ he told me.
‘At worst, there is no “buy in” or precise target, belief or point of leverage for effective therapy to work with and this inadvertently sabotages change.’
The solution?
To remain aware of when that pattern is emerging in my language. Instead of umming and ahhing, make a decision – even if it’s deferring judgement. Rory recommended thinking about the race as a film and breaking it down into segments called ‘this is the bit when…happens’.
On my last long run, I thought I might be hitting a sort of runner’s wall but I wasn’t sure and spent a few mile arguing with myself about whether I was hitting it or not – which added to the overall stress of the situation.
Adopting this new strategy would mean making a decision – acknowledging that I’m hitting what feels like a wall now. I can decide at a later stage after the race whether that really was the wall or not, but at this moment in time, that’s what it feels like, so that’s what it is.
The next step is to say ‘this is the part when I feel like I’m hitting a wall’. That’s OK because, in a film, these sections pass and you move on to a different bit. That makes it more digestible.
I went to hypnotherapy to see if it would help me feel better about running the marathon
When you’re going nice and strong at the start of the race, you can say: ‘This is the bit where I feel f*cking fantastic and I’m basically the Beyonce of Greenwich’. When you feel like your calf muscles are going to implode and you might sh*t yourself around mile 20, you just say: ‘This is the bit where I want to f*cking die’. But it’s only the bit where that happens – it’s not a continuous state of being.
And weirdly, that already feels like it’s helping. A week ago, even thinking about the 20th mile started to make me feel a bit sick. Today, it feels more manageable.
After the hour-long chat, I felt tired and overwhelmed with information. It was time to enter the pod.
I was sort of looking forward to lying down on a comfy chaise lounge while some dude in a waistcoat hypnotized me with his pocket watch – but apparently, that’s not how it works anymore.
Reposted from: metro.co.uk



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