Dr. Sarah Torok-Gerard Speaks at LINC Luncheon

March 26, 2014

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Dr. Sarah Torok-Gerard, associate professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Mount Union, was the featured speaker at the LINC luncheon on Tuesday.

During her presentation, “Tales from the Trails: Linking Classroom Learning to Ultra Marathon Training,” Torok-Gerard discussed the lessons she has learned through the combination of running and psychology. The presentation encompassed a variety of elements involved in the learning process including motivation, self-regulation, self-efficacy and failure.

Torok-Gerard recently conducted quantitative and qualitative sabbatical research, as well as a self-study on the habits of good practice. By testing her own limits in training for her first ultra-trail marathon, she discovered invaluable lessons about how people learn and acquire skills, not just in the classroom, but in their daily lives.

Prior to this, Torok-Gerard had never run a trail race. She began training and as she did, she learned more and more about herself as time went on.

“When you are standing with everyone at the starting line of a big race, you realize that there are so many different demographics, but they don’t seem to matter because you are not there to race anyone but yourself,” she said.  

Torok-Gerard went on to discuss six links that she made between running and psychology.

“Practice makes myelin, and myelin makes perfect,” Torok-Gerard said. She explained that there is neurological truth to this old adage.

Another link that she strongly stressed is that natural talent is really overrated. When it comes down to it, grit and determination can outwork natural talent. Encouraging natural talent, as most parents do, can actually hinder motivation. Children’s parents, and society, compliment natural talent and intelligence. It is much more beneficial to the child, student, athlete or businessperson to complement their efforts.

“Effort is a sign of progress, not weakness,” Torok-Gerard said. “Focus on encouraging that rather than natural ability.”

Torok-Gerard earned Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in educational psychology from University at Albany, SUNY and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Mercyhurst College.

LINC (lunch, information, networking and conversation) was created to take advantage of the local expertise from Mount Union’s faculty and staff that exist in Alliance in light of Mount Union’s exceptional academic reputation.

The next luncheon is April 29. The cost for each lunch is $10. Payment is accepted at the door. Lunch begins at noon, the program will begin at 12:20 p.m. and the event will conclude by 1 p.m.

For more information or to make reservations, contact The Regula Center at (330) 829-8168 or regulacenter@mountunion.edu.


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