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

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


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 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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