Monday, 14 October 2013

Running as a Couple

I starting running casually about 10 years ago. And I began training seriously last winter. But up until recently I have always logged my miles solo.

After my surgery this spring, and slowly brainwashing my extended family - I convinced my hubby to start running with me. It all started early this spring when my husband decided to train for Harry's 5km with me, and it snowballed from there. We are getting ready to run our 2nd Half Marathon together this coming weekend, and I think it is safe to say that he has officially caught the running bug. Our weekly runs together have fast become one of my favourite days.

But when we first started running was a little bumpy. He thought I was being a bit of a bossy know-it-all. And I thought he didn't respect the distance. We bumbled and bickered our way through our first serious run together. But by the end our 10km loop we came to the conclusion that we both just really wanted the best for one another. He wanted a challenge. And I just wanted to make sure he didn't repeat my past mistakes. We were in this together after all.

So we came up with a system, or rather a few ground rules to help us remember that.

1. Is it supportive?
With running there is always someone who has been running for longer, and there is also always someone who is likely to be faster. So it's important to establish from the get-go that going for a run together is just about about supporting each other and your individual goals. As the less experienced runner it's easy to feel like you are being judged. And as the slower runner it is easy to feel like you are being resented for slowing down the pace. But if you make it clear that you are running together to support one another, than those feeling fades fast.

2. Your Pace or Mine?
It kind of goes without saying, but it's unlikely that you will both run at the exact same pace. In our case, I am the slower one. This year my focus has been more on strength and endurance, and less on speed. Combine that with less-than-stellar cardiovascular system and robot heart - and I think it is safe to say I will always be the slower one in this pair. So when we set out for our run we always establish what kind of pace we (or rather I) are aiming for.

3. What's the goal?
Is it a long run? Are we doing hills? Are we working on speed? Or is it just to get out there and enjoy some time together? Whatever it is, it is important to start out with the same focus and the same goal. Communication is key really. It is important to get on the same page about your run before you head out.

Over the past few months I have really come to cherish these weekly runs together. It has been a rough few months - our schedules have not always aligned and emotions have been running high. But our runs have been our space to reconnect. I cried - really cried about losing my Dad. We had a serious talk about our 5 year plan. We talked brass tax and financial planning. We planned our next vacation (I think we are gonna go to Germany next year). Laughed about our crazy westie. And just enjoyed being able to be together. All this while out on our run.

These runs have become the perfect addition to and extension of our relationship. It's time we get together, to support one another, and help each other reach those goals we are striving for -  not just on race day, but also for our day-to-day. It is a weekly reminder that we are in this together. Like life, training can be tough, and sometimes you need someone to lean on, someone to support you, and someone see you through. And like in life, we are always stronger together.

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