My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. Five years ago, it was a blistering day in the upper 80s in Massachusetts and we all sweated through our formal wear.
Still, I’d take that day over the driving rain and damp cold that descended on the eastern seaboard this weekend. With our two kids in tow we headed to Cape Cod to avail ourselves of Nana’s childcare services so we could enjoy a night out alone (together) and some dinner and drinks at the Wequassett Inn in Chatham, MA.
Mission accomplished! The Wequassett was great. Excellent anniversary celebration (even better marriage).
It got me thinking. The hallmarks of a successful marriage could also be the keys to successful marathon running over time.
Like people who marry their first loves, there are plenty of runners out there that click with running at an early age, find their groove, and “keep it up” their whole lives (see what I did there?). For other people, the relationship with running starts off casual, gets increasingly serious, until one day running is down on one knee and you’re saying “Yes. YES!” to signing up for your first marathon.
In many ways, the first marathon is like the wedding. As in marriage, a marathon runner must navigate the highs and lows of a running life without calling it quits. This is a lot harder and far more potentially significant than training and completing a single 26.2 mile race. Furthermore, no one gives out awards for the number of consecutive years you stick with running. At least if you manage to stay married for 25, 50 years, or more, you get a party, maybe a write-up in your local paper.
Where many marathon runners go wrong is the singular focus on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. An admirable goal, no doubt, but statistically speaking very few of us can qualify for Boston. Every attempt to qualify is the penultimate experience. The longer it takes, the more frustrated you’ll become with running. You’ll hear yourself complaining behind running’s back that you feel cheated and banged up. Overlooking running’s many other virtues, you’ll question if it’s all worth it. Eventually, you’ll look elsewhere to soothe your aches and pains (Yoga, that saucy minx).
Now imagine this same attitude applied to married life. What if your spouse was never satisfied with your accomplishments, always pushing you harder, always reaching for some shiny object just out of reach? You would be running headlong into a brick wall, that’s what. While you’re dating yoga on the side, running is back at the bar with his buddies saying, “We used to have so much fun together. I don’t know where I went wrong.” Running just wants you to love yourself, be happy, and see the big picture. Running just wants you to show up, log some miles, and spend quality time together.
It’s not you, running. Or, at least, it’s not ALL your fault. Running is like a flashy boyfriend that wines and dines you in the beginning. There will come a point in time when running ought to take some personal responsibility for the intoxicating allure and the drug-like high that permits the just-OK runners to dream of ascending impossible heights in the sport. This is a precarious time in any runner’s relationship with marathon running. Runners that make it through this point have come to recognize and accept their limitations over time. They’ve learned to love running for running’s sake and not what it has done for them lately.
Running can at times cut you to the core and force you to confront some unpleasant things about yourself. But what partnership worth your time doesn’t have the potential to do that? And aren’t we all better for it? A good partner in life will make you a better person than you otherwise would be without them. My husband, hands down, is that person for me. Running can be a great partner in life, too, if you let it. It doesn’t ask much more of you than putting one foot in front of the other. The rest is up to you.
How do you keep your relationship with running going?
Have you ever broke up with running?
Has your relationship with running changed over time?