Tis the season to think about hearts, flowers, and all things romance. To consider the people you love and the people who hopefully love you back.
There is no shortage of articles about what makes a good sweetheart or a good relationship. Heaven knows I’m not an expert on that, but they all seem to have one thing in common: they assume your sweetheart is a person.
Why can’t my sweetheart be the thing I’ve spent more time with over the last 20 years than I have with any person: Running.
The best, and longest, relationship in my life is with running. I’ll personify it and call him my sweetheart.
Why Running Is My Sweetheart
We Spend A Ton Of Time Together
While a large time investment isn’t a requirement for someone to be my sweetheart, I can’t help but have some degree of affection for something I spend hours upon hours with every week.
There aren’t many things I’ll spend 4+ hours with at one stretch. But I don’t blink an eye at that with running.
I Learn More About Myself Because Of Him
In the best relationships, you learn about yourself and become a better person because you’re a part of it.
In spending time with running, I learn as much about myself as I do about it. I learn about what I need. I learn my limits and boundaries. I learn about when I can push and what I shouldn’t.
I’m a better person because running is in my life. What more can you ask from a sweetheart?
There Are Bad Times, But It’s Worth Sticking It Out
Running and I sometimes have a rocky relationship. He’s sometimes a challenge to be with.
Sometimes he’s mean to me. I’ll have a bad run or a bad race. I’ll go out for a run and it will feel like a total slog. Sometimes I ignore him when I just need a break for awhile.
But I learn from the bad times. I learn what I did wrong and what I could do better. I try not to repeat the same mistakes. I learn how to manage and deal with his moods. Our time apart makes us grow stronger.
The bad times suck, but I’m a better runner because of it.
He Makes Me Feel Accomplished, Strong, Powerful And Confident
How many times during a run have I thought, I just can’t go on. I have to stop.
But I don’t. I keep pushing. And every single time, I do the thing I thought I couldn’t do. And after pushing my limits, I feel amazing.
I think, if I just did that (whatever that is that day, running 5 miles, running a marathon, sticking out a run in the pouring rain), if I did that, what else do I think I can’t do that I maybe can?
I accomplished that, I am invincible!
I accomplished that, I can do anything!
Setting goals and seeing them through. Accomplishing crazy things through sheer will and persistence. I learned that from running. He taught me well.
I’ve Done More And Seen More Because He’s In My Life
I’ve done races in towns I never would have gone to if it weren’t for running. I’ve been down streets in my hometown I would never have otherwise seen because of runs.
When we expanded our relationship to include trail runs, I started seeing the most beautiful sights to be seen on earth: waterfalls, mountains, sunbeams breaking through trees.
Running has expanded my horizons and gotten me out in the world.
I Can Be Myself, I Don’t Need To Impress Running
Running knows who I really am.
He’s seen me at my worst, and at my best. My bad wardrobe choices? Running doesn’t care. The fact that I never brush my hair before a morning run, making a holy mess on my head? Running doesn’t care.
I want to be the best version of me, and running helps me do that, but when I run, I don’t need to try to be anyone other than who I am.
He Knows My Shortcomings And Accepts Me Anyway
Running knows I’m a middle of the pack runner. He’s OK with that because I’m OK with that. I don’t need to make excuses or fudge my finish times to sound more impressive.
Running knows I’m not going to win any races. I’m not even going to win my age group. Running doesn’t care because I don’t care.
Running accepts me for who I am. He supports my individuality.
He Forces Me Out Of My Comfort Zone
As the inspirational saying goes: nothing amazing happens in your comfort zone.
Running regularly makes sure I’m solidly out of my comfort zone. Physically, Emotionally, Mentally. Rare is the run where I feel entirely comfortable.
Running forces me out of my comfort zone but then also makes sure that I see the benefits of leaving my comfort zone in the first place.
We Have Fun Together
Above all, we have fun when we spend time together. Or at least we usually have fun together. There are bad times, but even those are still memorable and I’m better for them in the long run.
It’s always an experience. What more can I ask?