I’m used to the streets of Richmond, Twickenham and St. Margarets – my Cognitive Hypnotherapy practice is based in these areas – and I run around them on a regular basis.
But I’ve never plogged along them and so last Sunday was a first for me.

What is plogging? Essentially it combines jogging with picking up litter. You can find more about it and its origins in this BBC article
I’m a member of the Bearcats Running Club based in Twickenham. It’s a lovely club with a focus on the mental health and social aspects of running rather than times and performance. Last Sunday they provided us with black rubbish bags and latex gloves and we headed out into the streets of Richmond to ‘plog’.

It should have felt a lot easier – after all you’re not running at your normal pace and you’re stopping a lot. I’ve recently returned to running after resting an injured foot for a few weeks and I was definitely feeling my absence – so I was looking forward to the stopping aspects of our run. What I discovered quickly is that you’re also bending down a lot and that stop/starting is more tiring than I thought. (changed order of sentences here!)

Then something happened. I stopped focusing on how I was feeling about the run and started focusing on the rubbish to be collected. I became used to spotting items along the kerbs and in the verges and soon I was spotting the ubiquitous cigarette butt and swooping in to add it to my ‘collection’. As we made our way up the hill towards Richmond Park the runners thinned out as they focused on different types of rubbish and I plogged along with another man and we made a good team. Later we headed back to the starting point and the groups met up again. (do you need this last sentence – is it going anwhere?)

I had completely forgotten about how I felt as I was running – my focus was 100% on spotting and collecting rubbish and I didn’t think for a moment about how I was feeling physically. And that was a really helpful reminder about the power of focusing on the task in hand.

It’s all too easy to focus on how we feel about something rather than getting on with what we set out to do. What we were doing wasn’t necessarily the most exciting task either and that’s why this was so helpful. I focused on what I was doing so I didn’t think about how I was feeling about doing it. No special hypnotherapist techniques required!

There are plenty of tasks we do that we don’t think of as exciting. It’s often those tasks that we put off or don’t do at all, even though we know they’re what we need to do. By starting them and focusing on what we’re trying to achieve, we might find that we’re able to not only get through them but also find a satisfaction we didn’t think was possible.

Ask yourself what are you putting off doing? What outcome could you get if you just started and focused on the task in hand?