Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Breaking habits and getting help

As some of you know, I’m training for a wee race in March this year (the Hardmoors55 Ultra). Freya UltraCollie will of course be coming with me. Running is as much about spending quality time with my dogs as restoring my sanity!

I must confess, running is not something that’s ever come easily to me. I started with a walk-run programme, but I was always aiming for the longer distances. That means walking is an essential part of my training and racing plan – I’m not ready to run 55 miles of trail, mud, hills and bog without walk breaks!

On Saturday I went along to my local York Parkrun. Flat, minimal mud, no bog.  Biggest challenge on the day? NOT taking walk breaks!

I had a fantastic run and felt very much ‘in flow’ for most of it. But I noticed that about half way through, my brain started to plan a short walk break – scoping out markers, thinking ahead. It took real effort to pull back, assess how my body was feeling and compare that with the remaining distance. I didn’t need to take a walk break. That ever so useful habit on a long run, wasn’t going to serve me well in a shorter race.

Freya was delighted by the newly speedy approach, and we clocked in at 30mins exactly.

Lesson learned – habits are how our brain automates useful thinking and behaviour processes. But we still need to check that the habit is useful to our end goal. Resisting that well practiced habit takes effort and mental resource, plus a handful of self-awareness. I use techniques I learned from my Human Givens coach.

Your action: can you think of any habits in your dog training practice, or daily life? Do you always work on the same things in the same order? If your dog can be reactive – do you intervene or manage situations so much that your dog isn’t getting the chance to learn on their own?

Reply with the habit YOU have identified, and whether you think it might be worth observing, or even changing a little!

Have a fantastic week and enjoy your dogs.

PS  If you’d like some help identifying, changing or breaking habits while training your dog, check out our new online service where you can Borrow My Brain for 30mins. Perfect if your training is stuck, or you need a nudge to implement your behaviour plan.

Book here

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