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Running With The Wife

I consider myself to be a former runner.  Running as a form of exercise was something I’d previously engaged in when, well, when I couldn’t find anything else better to do.  Running was the post-basketball, pre-cycling mode of maintaining physical fitness.  When I last gave up on running, I vowed only to run when necessary- in order to be the first in line for dessert.  But that ex-runner status recently changed.

My first running phase took place in college as my basketball days were winding down and I was searching for a way to stay in shape.  Other people talked about how much they loved running so I figured I’d give it a try.  It wasn’t all that bad and I even grew to enjoy the solitary pounding of my feet on the pavement.  Besides, between college classes and working and attempting to have a social life, running was the one thing I could do at any time of day or night.  I gave thought to maybe running a marathon one day, but after a year I’d grown weary of the workout and put my running shoes away.

Sometime around my thirtieth birthday, I fell back in with running again.  Playing softball once a week, as fun as it was, didn’t provide the neccessary exercise for the amount of calories I was consuming.  With a Christmas bonus, I bought a treadmill and ran on nights and weekends.  Unlike most people, I actually liked the treadmill.  There was no headwind or rain and the room temperature could be controlled.  Come Sunday afternoons, I’d turn on a football game and run the afternoon away.  Despite a few bouts of shin splints, which magically disappeared when I stopped playing softball, I managed to stick with running for a couple of years.

Until I re-discovered cycling.

After going for a spin on my first road bike, I once more put away those running shoes, never planning to get them out again.

But then my eight year old son turned on me.

He’s a swimmer and a biker so I thought he might enjoy a kid’s triathlon.  All he needed was a little work on the running.  The wife said she’d been thinking about giving running a try and she’d run if he’d run.  It sounded like a great plan, one that didn’t involve me running.

She downloaded the “couch to 5k app” and off they went on their first workout.  He made it to the end- barely.  He’d stopped halfway through, sat on the grass, and refused to run another step.  The only thing he was interested in doing was walking- walking home.  She somehow managed to convince him to finish the first workout.  Over dinner I surmised there was no way he could be cajoled, convinced, or even bribed into running with her a second time.

“I’ll run with you,” I heard myself saying.

Whoa, what words were coming out of my mouth?  I’d broken up with running and gone off to greener pastures.

But the wife wanted to run and she’d prefer if someone ran with her.  So the former runner who never wanted to run again is running with the wife.  Most times, I think she likes it, the running that is, and hopefully my company as well, except for the time when I included a rather steep hill as part of the route.  I thought it would fun and challenging.  I’m not sure what she thought, but to be on the safe side, I took her out to dinner that night.

Just in case.

At Schlotzsky’s.  (I know, big spender.)

The hill wasn’t that steep.

Running affords us more opportunities to talk, to do more things together and as a family.  Our son didn’t escape so easily.  He gets dragged along with us, except instead of running he’s ahead of us on his bike or off playing on the playground.

We’re six or weeks into this “couch to 5k” program and in a few weeks she’ll be ready for her first 5k.  The other night, as Samuel and I were leaving to go ride bikes, I found her scouring websites in search of her first 5k.

I thought about reminding her of my first cycling event.  It didn’t help that I’d gotten sick the week of or that I’d intentionally avoided training on any hills or that the event was so poorly organized I ended riding a few extra miles after missing a few unmarked turns.   At the time, I found there to be a significant difference in riding 55 miles when you’d planned on 48.  She might remember the picture of me laying on the floor next to Samuel, the muscles in my calves, thighs, back, and forearms taking turns cramping.

But if she doesn’t I won’t remind her.  It might not be the most helpful thing I could do.

I doubt she’ll have the same experience with a 5k.  Maybe if she did a 10k or a half-marathon.

But no matter what distance she chooses or how fast or slow she goes, finishing is the goal.  Maybe even learning to push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of or accomplishing something you once considered out of reach.  Those are the prizes worthy of attaining.

And if you can do those things with someone else- even better.

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