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The Running Relationship
Running is like marriage. Not that marriage is all bad or all good—but when we start dating someone seriously, we’re all super hot and in love with this person. By the time we’re celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary, we may not feel the same way. Of course, we all know couples who are still totally in love. But in reality, the relationship between the two people—even if it’s still really great—has more often than not, changed.
Running is also a relationship. We often seek the same butterflies and flutters with running as we do in our romantic relationships. Maybe we have them each time we lace up our running shoes; but maybe the relationship has changed. Maybe we struggle to find our why, our motivation or the love again.
The thing I have discovered over the last eight years of being an adult-onset runner is that running is truly an important relationship with myself. So many of us have lost sight of our true selves over the years—whether it’s through relationships, raising children, life or loss—at times, we are unsure of who we are, what we want and where we need to go next. Running can become a chore or lose its luster.
But like relationships, running doesn’t need to get boring. With each and every run, we have the opportunity to cultivate a new relationship with ourselves. Maybe the first butterflies we got when running helped us explore a new side to ourself. Maybe we kept going because we liked what we saw; maybe we kept going because we didn’t. During this running relationship, we learn how to talk to ourselves (and how not to); we learn how to treat our bodies (and how not to).
Esther Perel has a TED talk about why marriages can lead to infidelity. Seems off-topic, but bear with me. Perel mentioned a client who had an affair even though she was “happy” in her marriage. Turns out that the affair wasn’t so much that she was looking for another person, as much as she was looking for another version of herself.
Now let’s not all go out and have affairs—that’s not the point.
However, perhaps looking for another self is sometimes what we need. Each run is a fresh start, a new voice, a new way to move ourselves through space and time—on that day, in that body. A chance to put on our shoes and move forward in a different way. An exploration of someone maybe we have long forgotten. I’m not sure if that’s appealing or terrifying sometimes. But I do know that each time we lace up our running shoes, we are dabbling with an opportunity for something new, something different. We can choose the conversation with ourselves. We can pick who we are working towards, our purpose.
Each run is a relationship. Each dabble is a change, a new opportunity to be the person we are meant to be. The run is just another small step in the journey to our greatest self.
Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is motivational speaker, IRONMAN triathlete and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You., being re-released in 2019.She is the host of the podcast The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. You can download a free triathlon race day checklist here. Meredith lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her husband and two children and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com. She has a second book due out Fall 2019.