Monthly Archives: May 2014

Navigating life: married to an ultra runner

What’s it like to be married to an ultrarunner?

No Boundaries:  One of the first and most important lessons I’ve learned after being married to an ultrarunner is that whatever boundaries used to exist in our relationship, were thrown out the window once she became an ultrarunner.  Running 100 miles has taught my wife a lot of things; patience, focus, tenacity.  However, you’re never likely to hear words like polished, proper, elegant used to describe her.  And that’s ok.  So many relationships are founded on unrealistic expectations where we see each other in our most refined state (clean, relaxed, well dressed).  When things start to get tough or suboptimal, thats when you really know if your relationship will sink or swim.  I’m reminded of Good Will Hunting and Robin William’s speech that we’re never going to find that perfect someone because they don’t exist.  Ultrarunning quickly forces us to accept that we’re not perfect and we’ll eventually see each other when we’re not at our best.  Instead of taking away from the relationship though, this has only enhanced the love and compassion I feel for my wife.  Plus, it’s given us a ton of funny stories and great memories.

Food & Supplement Education:  Not surprisingly, an integral part of running 100 miles is eating food as fuel, rather than for pleasure….and lots of it!!  Friday night dates have transitioned from restaurants and movies to trips to the grocery store.  Traditional dinners have been replaced by smoothies (with avocados and beets?!), foods with lots of garlic and turmeric (for recovery and inflammation) and chips and guacamole barely stand a fighting change to last more than a day.  While I can’t say that I have adopted the eating habits of my wife (algae anyone?), I enjoy learning about the scientific properties of foods and supplements and how they impact the body.  I only wish I had this information in college when trying to espouse the virtues of drinking beer to my parents.

Appreciate the Time Away:  Finishing an ultramarathon is a huge accomplishment but the race and especially the training leading up to it take quite a bit of time.  When my wife first started running long distances, it was hard not to feel like running became her secret affair.  However, as any of you know when dealing with a spouse during a taper period, I would prefer her to exhaust her energy during a run then save it up and wreak havoc around our house.  I’ve learned that it’s ok to enjoy the time apart; in fact, it can be pretty fun.  The time apart has allowed me the freedom to catch up on my TV (Archer, The Fall, Mad Men, Luther) and movie (Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her) queue.  It’s also nice to get away from talking about running by spending it with other non ultrarunner friends (or “normies” as we like to refer to ourselves) doing trivia or playing recreational sports.  This time apart has allowed for a level of independence in the relationship.  We have been a “WE” since age 19, so this has reminded each of us that while we’re a couple and fully committed to each other, we’re also individuals with our own interests, goals and personalities.  That way, when we do get time together, we’re able to focus on each other and share our respective experiences.  It also opens both of us up to experiences that we otherwise, on our own, wouldn’t have been able to.

More to follow…

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Next to Love, Balance is the most Important thing; TrailRunner Blog Symposium

Next to love, balance is the most important thing. John Wooden

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Balance; its that buzz word every endurance athlete is hearing lately. Balance work with family, and running.  Single leg balance is an important part of the running gait, balanced meals are important for recovery, and balanced training plans are necessary for injury prevention and perfect peaking.  Why wouldn’t balance in our relationships also be important?  I don’t think its strictly a question of dating a runner or a non runner, but being with someone who understands our drive, but also balances out our strong tendencies to get lost in our training.  I do believe that sharing things is common helps build a strong bond, but it isn’t the most important aspect of the perfect runner’s spouse.

I don’t know that I ever thought about this when I was dating.  I always knew I was a runner, it was part of me..like breathing.  So anyone that I ever dated had to love all of me, even my crazy runner parts.

While I may never have consciously ruled out non-athletes, I have always gravitated towards men who are interested in physical activities and the outdoors.  Not just gym rats, but guys who want to be outside and active.   Don’t get me wrong, brains are a huge turn on, but because I spend so much time outside hiking, biking, or running, a couch potato would never want to date me…and vice-versa.

My idea of a good date involves working up a good sweat (get your minds out of the gutter here…) and being outside.  As a matter of fact, my husband planned his proposal around a trip to Arizona to run a half marathon, and then a hike we used to do in college in Tuscon, AZ.  He still makes fun of me, the ultra runner, who didn’t want to climb just one more peak where he planned on proposing because I was tired after running PR half marathon, followed by laps in the pool.

So what keeps our not-so-crazy spouses around?  This weekend we hosted a BBQ for my birthday with several of our friends.  It also happened to be on the day of the wedding anniversary of one of the couples.   He has just finished running Massanutten 100 that morning, and was relaxing with his feet up on our deck.  Next to him sat his wife, who is a much shorter distance runner.  They spoke of their wedding and how 23 years had passed so quickly.  To their right sat another couple, he is perfecting his 5k time, while she prefers races 50 mile or longer.  The next couple to their left is in their 60s and he still runs 100s, while she is his best crew and pacer.  What, after so many years, keeps these couples together?  While they all love and respect each other, I really think its the balance they have found in each other that makes it work.  We trail runners bring excitement and adventure to the relationship, and our spouses bring other things in.

As ultra-endurance athletes we tend to live very focused, one sided lives.  Run, eat, recover, repeat.  I wake up thinking about running, thinking about what I will eat to recover, if I have time for yoga or foam rolling, or where the next funadventure run could be.  Thankfully my (more sane?) spouse reminds me that going full tilt all the time is not sustainable.  My husband helps me remember to relax and enjoy other aspects of life, not just the crazy endurance ones.  And getting outside of my comfort level is what life is all about, right? (Read his thoughts on being married to an ultra runner here).

Bottom line; I am forever thankful to have found someone who accepts and loves me for who I am, supports me when I need it, and keeps me sane and grounded!

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Funny conversation of the day…(and also a little explanation of who I am)

So today I got a text from a friend who is running her first marathon in a few weeks:

Friend: I am struggling beyond 16 miles, but I think about how much you run and it helps me push on, you are amazing!

me: Amazing…or crazy?

Friend: Maybe a mix of both. How do you do it? How do you stay happy and motivated?

Me: I don’t understand that question..(sort of getting at the fact that running is my motivation, and it makes me happy)

Friend: (missing my subtle comment..) While running you’re always happy and you seem so motivated. I just don’t know how you do it. I have to really dig deep sometimes and I get cranky.

Me: Running is my motivation, it is what makes me happy.  So I don’t quite understand the question…get what I mean?

Friend: You just love it?! Impressive. What passion, that’s amazing!

Me: Amazing? Or is it really more of a curse 😉

brrflowersrun