Friday, August 26, 2011

Symmetry, Balance and the remains of the day

I read a comment on the DailyMile the other day that really struck me.  In essence, it was from a woman who was lamenting the fact that her husband absolutely hated her running.  The time and money she invested were both cited as reasons for his disdain and the result was that she clearly felt alienated and I'm sure, more than a little upset.  I can't say as I blame her.

I myself am blessed with a loving and supporting spouse.  One that takes an emotional pounding on a regular basis as a result of my job in the military.  Constant moves and deployments make having a "normal" life almost impossible.  We've been married ten years (soon to be 11 in just two weeks!) and have three of the most beautiful and intelligent daughters one could ever hope to have.

We've also learn to love each other's passions and that has been a great, if not initially hidden, reward for the both of us.  The story goes something like this.

She loves music.  -With the intensity of a thousand white hot burning suns.-  She can get lost in it, interacting with the notes, pitch and melody in ways that most of us don't.  She hears things that most of us don't even think about, and she has self-taught mixing skills that have landed her actual paid gigs and quite a bit of compliments from some respected folks in the industry.  She's good.  She knows what she's doing.  And I don't understand music at all.  I'm a musical idiot.

What I do understand is the way she lights up with an inner glow that can only come from something that flips your "soul" switch to the "ON" position.  Watching her mix is an amazing experience.  Her passion translates from the inward understanding of the music, to the tactile act of placing fingers on dials and sliders.  It's quite something to watch and, dare I say, sexy as hell.

And that's all I need to know.  This is her method of getting in tune with her heartbeat, something that all of us can appreciate.  I don't need to debate the value of her time or energy investment because the return on that investment can't be measured.  It makes her happy.  That, in turn, brings a smile to my face.  It's a symbiotic relationship that begins with that understanding and continues with my desire to learn about the connection she has with this art form.  Admittedly, my musical knowledge is kiddie-pool deep (hell, I met David Guetta and help him move his Lamborghini and didn't even know it) but learning something about music helps me understand her better.  And that's a goal worth having.

I can't speak for my wife, but I believe she takes the same approach with my love of running.  She understands and appreciates the time and energy invested.  She's proud of my achievements.  She doesn't even like to run really (although she can walk faster than many slow joggers, frequently leaving me in the dust) . The point is that you don't have to appreciate the act itself, but rather your loved one's enjoyment of it.

That said, it's also important to appreciate the fact that hobbies can run a deficit in one critical area of a relationship: time.  The long runs, the intervals, the "core training", the race prep, the race days, the pre-race meal, and the list goes on nearly ad infinitum if you let it.  The personal philosophy that has served me best has been, "I might be training for a ___________(marathon, ultra, whatever) but my family isn't."

I think perhaps Marshall Ulrich said it best during a recent interview on Ultrarunner Podcast when he was asked, "What's the best gift you can give your wife after one of these long runs such as running across the United States?"

The expectation was something material.  A shiny object.  A vacation.  A new car.

You know what his response was after a brief pause?


He was right.  And something we probably all need to remember . . .

What have you done to help your family understand your love of this sport?

How has it affected you?

By Marcus with 6 comments


Good blog! I've started this comment a couple of times now and hit delete everytime. In short, my husband is not a runner at all or has any real passion that envelopes him the way running is for me. He sees what it does to and for me though and is very supportive eventhough I am sure it frustrates him at times. My daughter (9) doesn't really get it and my son (22) seems to think I am nuts but does admire it. He will actually crew for me on my first ultra. I think most of all my family is worried that Ill get injured during my runs. I run with my phone and/or friends and when I run by myself I'll tell them where I am going. Running gobbles up a lot of time though..but this is who I am (or have become) and my husband respects that - he just doesn't understand it. He is cheering for me though and I love him for that. We might be married, but that doesn't mean we have to be joint at the hip 24/7. As for my children, I hope they see that passion and determination can get you anywhere and that in running, like in life, you don't have to 'win' the race to be a winner and that often the most important thing to overcome is yourself and your preconceptions.


Fortunately for me, I'm unbelievably lazy. All I have to do is make my fiancee understand why I sit on my arse all night in front of a keyboard typing stories.

If you could bottle the "lazy ass" justification formula, you might be a very rich man . . .

We should high 5 our significant others EVERYSINGLE day cuz they RULE!

You know me so well. (I know you so well!) Thank you, and, you're welcome :) <3

You're welcome dear :) Love you!

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