A blog by runners. For runners.

Runner’s Column: Compromise in the one-runner household

Compromise in the one-runner householdOne of my wife’s co-workers once joked I did not have hobbies or interests – I moved from one obsession to another. Running can become an all-encompassing pursuit where you never really are done. You can always try to go faster and longer because the reality is if you truly dedicate yourself and push yourself you can accomplish so much in this sport.

That’s the temptation and that’s what feeds the self-centered, goal-driven monster that brings out the best in our capabilities but sometimes leaves the people we love in the dust.

Face it, runners are selfish. We sacrifice sleep, indulgent food, and relaxation for our sport but we also ask those around us to make sacrifices as well. When you are the only runner in your family – as is the case in my home – those sacrifices and demands have the potential to be enhanced. And that can turn the sport you love into a source of friction. Nobody wants that.

So here are some tips of my tips on how to survive and thrive because you shouldn’t go it alone and the rest of your family should not feel left out.

  • Get a divorce. No, of course that’s not the solution! But that got your attention, right? Your spouse or significant other is your partner in many things. If they don’t run that does not mean they can’t be your partner in running pursuits as well. How? Tell them you need them, you need their help, and that they are essential to your success. When you plan a long run and need a water/fuel stop midway, have them meet you there to give you what you need and little encouragement. When I’m doing some long point-to-point runs I’ll often have my wife and son drive to my finish to meet me. It’s uplifting when they drive by me, knowing that I’m almost done and I try to make my destination someplace that has a practical purpose.
  • Plan race schedules together. Don’t assume it’s OK to just sign up for races without discussing it with your partner and any of the people the training and actual race might affect. It is so easy to get a little crazy with races – I once did four races in two weeks (two 5Ks, a 10K, and 10-miler) and it seemed like I was always in race prep/race recovery mode. Discuss plans with the mindset you don’t have to do every race you think you can do. Part of that planning can sometimes include a tit-for-tat such as: If I train to run this race you attend that yoga retreat or all-day writers workshop.
  • Make your running beneficial to the household. Why not prepare a dinner that is in line with your runner nutritional needs but the entire household will enjoy as well? It doesn’t even have to be dinner. Going for an early morning run? Make pancakes or omelets for everyone for breakfast when you get back.
  • Compromise. Lots of sports biographies and trainers talk about how success comes to those athletes who refuse to compromise on their training and training goals. But you know what? You are not an elite athlete. You are trying to be the best you that you can be and in the big picture that is likely somewhere in the middle of a bell curve on some chart. You are not a person with one singular goal, you have a multitude of forces pulling you in sometimes opposing directions. Sometimes that means you will train for a half-marathon and not a full. Sometimes that means you won’t race for months.
  • Engage support. Some of my most treasured running memories are when my wife and/or son were on the race route or finish line. The first race I ever ran was a 5-miler and my wife and son surprised me with signs and their own cheering section at mile four. They are part of my team.

Understand this: I’ve come up with this advice because I failed to follow each of these tips at some point in my running endeavor. You live and learn and strive to get better, be better. If you are the only runner in your home, that’s OK, not everybody can or wants to be a runner. But they want to be a part of your life and you feel likewise. Find a way to make that happen.

Written by Rob Haneisen.

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