If you have been following my trek through the peak performance program at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, you know I have had to fast for 12 hours, play video games using my legs, give blood, scan my bones and body fat, run a 4-degree grade at 8.5 mph with an oxygen mask over my face, do speedwork in 90 degree heat and I still had the specter of the weight room hanging over me.
But none of this filled me with as much dread as my next appointment: 100 minutes with a behavioral therapist.
“What’s this for?” I asked the Lovely Mrs. A.
“She’s going to find out what you’re running from,” she replied, smiling at me.
Great. Was I going to have to tell her about the duck dreams?
I was worried for nothing. Ann Pardo, Canyon Ranch’s director of behavioral health, immediately made me feel comfortable and it was no chore at all talking about me, me, me.
I won’t bore you, dear reader, with the maze of my psyche, but Ann’s open-ended questions are designed not just to elicit information about your running, motivation, or performance, but to lend free rein to your discussion of those things, and see where it leads. In my case, it was very much like a standard counseling session without any mention of griffins and disembowelment.
Then, in the midst of what had been merely a pleasant conversation with a very nice woman, Ann led me to an epiphany about my running much to my astonishment. As hard as it is for me to write it here, I got very emotional. Yes, tears were involved.
I was pretty embarrassed, but invigorated at the same time. All the tests, drills and advice I received at Canyon Ranch will certainly improve my running. But nothing will help me more through those last few miles of a marathon than what I learned in my therapy session with Ann.
Afterwards, the Lovely Mrs. A. asked me how it went. “It was wonderful,” I said. “After all those miles and all that training, I actually discovered for the first time why I run.”
“And why is that?” she asked.
“For the best reason of all,” I replied, smiling at her.
Next up: Even experts can’t pump me up.