Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Day Running

Happy Valentine’s to every runner out there today on this day of love.

OK I know all the arguments that Valentines Day is just a capitalist invention to commodify one of the most precious emotions we experience. But considering we live in a capitalist society and every other aspect of my life seems to be for sale I will ignore those arguments and continue this blog post in earnest. (And for the cynics amongst you I would recommend reading this blog post - after mine of course!)

I thought on this ‘special’ day I would write a non-cynical ode to my two loves; my beautiful wife and running.

I have always run. At school I was on the athletics team and during the summer term I would run the glamour events of 100m and 200m - and love it. During the winter I would represent the school at regional cross country races and hate every muddy minute of it. From the age of about 15 I left competitive running behind me but it was still the best exercise I knew and would regularly go for runs around the local park. I thought they were ‘long runs’ but looking back on it they were never longer than 6 - 8km.

I enjoyed running but I definitely wouldn’t describe my relationship with running as one of “love”, it was something I did occasionally like going to the gym or shooting hoops. The “love” would come when I met my wife to be - Hannah. Someone who I fell in love with almost instantly (and is possibly the only time that has happened in my life).

There are few activities that I do that I don’t invite my wife to join me in. That doesn’t mean we do everything together but the invitation is always there (she tried watching Battlestar Galactica and gave up midway through the second episode - I proceeded to watch the next seven seasons by myself). And so it was only natural that when I went for runs I invited her to join me.

I quickly discovered that running provided the ideal opportunity for quality time with my wife.

Running is a rare opportunity when it is just the two of us. Nearly all other times in our lives it is at least ‘the two of us plus 1’. That ‘plus one’ can be a friend or family member. But the ‘plus one’ could equally be the television, cooking, a newspaper or the dreaded iphone. Running is quite literally the only time when we are focused solely on each other.

My love affair with running really started at this point as it gave me exclusive quality time with my wife. Running also enabled my relationship with my wife to grow even deeper as we listened to each other with no distractions for at least an hour every week.

I would have been happy just gently running with Hannah for years to come but she was the one to suggest that we enter a marathon. I hadn’t raced since I was in school and the thought had never occured to me. The long hours of training meant we spent more time together and it also gave us a goal to focus on. A challenge and the eventual triumph as we both completed the Rio Marathon two years ago only served to bring us even closer together.  

I often wonder what would have happened if Hannah hadn’t suggested we do the marathon. I think we would have continued running - but intermittently. Instead crossing that finish line in Rio cemented my love for running.

I now run five times a week (sometimes six) and if men are supposedly meant to think about sex 34 times a day - that’s a ‘scientific fact’ - then I think about running just as much. On good days my wife plays a part in all those thoughts - well maybe not all the running thoughts but I did say I had two loves at the start.

Today I will go for my run alone (as my wife is abroad for work) but hopefully she will read this and go for a run as well. Running on separate continents divided by space and time I can’t think of a better way to share our love on this Valentines day.

(The picture today is of my wife and I sharing a moment of jubilation after we finished the Rio Marathon.)

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