Every month Trailrunner magazine hosts a blog symposium. Emir participates almost every month. I on the other hand never feel too comfortable writing about topics such as the best old school trail race or commercialism in trail racing. I love trail running however Emir is way more well versed on the "goings on" than I. This month's topic however not only peaked my interest but is something I feel I'm pretty knowledgeable about.
Considering I am married to a fellow runner, I may be a bit biased however I do have a lot to say on this topic. I don't really know any different than what it's like to be with a runner since I didn't start running until after we were already married for over 5 years, already had our first child and Emir had already started dabbling in the run. I'm assuming it would have been a lot easier fitting in 20+ mile training runs before having children but that would have made sense and been too easy. Before having kids, we occassionaly worked out at the gym when we felt like it and basically ate and gained weight. Therefore, we never needed to compromise or figure anything else out. Fast forward to now. I'm an ultra runner, Emir is an ultra runner, I work 3 days a week as a Physical therapist, mommy the other 2 days and work one weekend a month, he works full time and we have two kids (4.5 and 2). There are lots of times where it would be hard enough for one person to get in the kinds of mileage to run a double marathon or 100K let alone two people who are married. It's not like we can go out and get our 4-5 hour runs done at the same time. And when you want to do most of your races together, usually your longest training runs fall on the same weekends. Basically, one person gets up early gets their run done and as they are coming in the other one is going out. As much as I love running and I love that my husband is a runner, sometimes it just feels like alot, maybe too much. But luckily that usually only happens once in a while at the peak of our training cycle. The rest of the time, I am not only so happy that I am married to a runner but so proud. Ultrarunning is a completely different animal than running 5Ks or even half marathons. You really need your partner to be super supportive and super understanding. It's priceless for me to walk into my house after a run and have Emir "just know" how I feel and also be exhilarated that I just completed a really long/tough training run instead of being annoyed that he had to take care of the kids by himself for hours. If he wasn't a runner who had already done his run that day or is on his way out, I think there would be a lot of resentment as far as me leaving for hours to do runs and then he feels like he never gets that alone time. Having this mutual understanding and support also makes my runs SO much more enjoyable. Instead of worrying the whole time about how long I've been gone, what kind of mood my husband will be in when I get back and that the kids might be upset since daddy's upset, I get to truly enjoy my alone time. I firmly believe everyone needs time to themselves to be happy and healthy, we just choose to spend our alone time running. This is one reason why I think it's good that we are both runners but that we don't get to run a ton together. The other reason being that even though we love each other and only want each other to do well, it's hard to completely eliminate the competitive nature we all have. Even the few training runs and the races we do get to run together, there have been occasions that competitiveness has reared it's ugly head which is ok but I think eventually would be a problem if we ran all the time together.
Lastly I cannot finish this without addressing the issue of the kids. I know from the outside looking in, some may think that because of us both being ultra runners that we don't spend as much time with our kids or even each other. For us, however, not only is this not the case but it has been the opposite. The key is that Emir and I have the same life beliefs and values. No matter what, kids and our relationship are first priorities followed by running. We put a lot of time each week discussing and planning out our runs so that they don't affect family time or activities. It doesn't matter that this means frequently we run at times that are not optimal or that we might have to move a long run to a different day. And even with all this flexibility and fitting in all the family things, we literally never completely miss a run, which stems back to us both being runners therefore both being more than willing to do whatever it takes for us both to get the runs done. We also make running a family activity whenever we can. We have our double BOB and will often take the kids to the trail for reasonable length runs and then let them loose to run and play.
And now we have started to veer off on our separate paths for certain races not only becuase we do have some different interests/goals but also so the kids have been able to become part of our support crew which means fun at races with them but they also have gotten to travel to places that none of us would have ever gone. Our 4 year old is so into it now and loves to be our "coach" asking everyday how our runs were, how far we went and telling us we need to work hard. It's awesome.
Despite the fact that sometimes it can be really difficult to be married to another runner, the multitude of positives far out weigh the negatives. It's not just the physical and mental benefits but it's all of the life lessons we are learning along the way. Running has taught us how to compromise and work together in ways we never imagined (nothing like running ultras with thousands and thousands of feet of elevation together to do that!). We have new found respect for each other and have become even closer. I wouldn't trade being married to a fellow runner for anything in the world.