Support from your partner – a must have for every runner?
Do you and your partner share the passion for a sport? Do you get the support you wish for? Do you find yourself having to negotiate your training sessions? Not to talk about race goals. Is it possible to keep the peace within a relationship when you don’t have your sport in common? And to succeed, do you both have to do the same sport? I have tried both. The answer is yes and no.
Going into ultra training and aiming for running 100km can be a challenge in any relationship. Especially when you have family, business and the rest. I’ve been running for 3 years and it has not always been easy. Running IS the easy part.
It’s a constant negotiation between family, reality and your own ego.
SUPPORT Reaching your personal goals and going for your dreams, the support you get from your partner does make a difference. We all know that. But I believe there are different ways to get support.
And sometimes its not the way we would like but what we have to accept.
Lets talk about how that support can look like. Yes, I am lucky, grateful and privileged to have a supportive partner. But don’t be fooled. Supportive does not always mean understanding , I do have to sell my goals and add my share to the bucket.
What I have learned is, no matter your gender, support is about give and take.
ADAPT When I was 25 and “honeymoon” in love I understood that if I wanted to spend time with my surfer I had to adapt to windsurfing and surfing. On or off the water. Got bored and sandblasted on the beach and it looked thrillingly fun out there – on the water. My partner was very encouraging “You’ll love it Sarah, I think its a sport for you.” He knew, if I windsurfed I would understand him better. So he put his sessions and ambitions on the shelf and tried to teach me. It went utterly wrong. Every session ended with me crying and him frustrated. No peace there! We quickly understood it was better to learn from a pro (I’m talking pedagogical pro) So I got the water starting part, gibes and learned to jump waves.
We had something in common.
He went back to radical, I was surfing basic, but we were on the water together. After surf was great! We adapted to each other. My goals were front loops and high jumps.
We connected and we had surf trip dreams in common.
MISERABLE Then we had family. (Now that’s a radical loop!) To add more loops to our everyday, boy number 2 arrived one (!) year later. Any woman reading this will understand it felt like I’d been pregnant for 50 years. Any man will know the patience required navigating into the new. The nights were endless and the days very long, with two toddlers. Add a business on that. My partner continued surfing on his “spare-time”. Happy as happy can be. Well not really, I think he always felt he was on borrowed or stolen family time, not spare time.
I was not the encouraging partner, I was more like the miserable wife.
I too wanted to feel endorphin’s, high loops, saltwater in my hair and barefoot moments on that board. It was pure jealousy and the one feeling worst about that was me. My partner said, I’m not stopping you. And that’s true, he wasn’t. But he wasn’t doing it for me either. With 2 toddlers windsurfing was not on my prio list. Besides, I wanted to do it together – not on my own. So I started running. Something I could do off our back step and on my own. He encouraged me there too. Again. The encouragement was through keeping the circus going and when I said I’m off, he never said no.
Looking back that was wow support.
TURNING TABLES Then I started to race regularly. A very dedicated amateur. The tables turned. He let me have priorities on the weekends and the family’s time and budget went to Moma’s running. He windsurfed, when opportunity permitted. Now and again, but not like before. Said no to sailing regattas while I ran in Barcelona.
He was happy to give and I was privileged to get. There is a lot of peace in that.
MOTHER vs TRAILRUNNER Don’t be fooled. Its not like I wandered off and arrived back home with dinner on the table and massage parlor in the living room. My long runs were – just a long run. Before tip toeing out into the sunrise I often put breakfast on the table and packed excursion or activity bags in the hallway. When those long runs were done I threw myself back home and straight into… most often, chaos. Stretching happened…. Maybe. But it was a setup that worked. There was peace. To be able to train, compete AND have family, this is what I had to accept. I wasn’t a pro athlete. This was all done “on the side”. My ego large enough to take Sarah time, but to also give back to the family.
My partner supported me in my running by giving me time, I stuck to my guns and took the hours.
SHIFT GEAR So we decided to move from Lanzarote to Sweden. A stepping stone and a regroup. Read more here: Endings and new beginnings My running had to shift into a different level. At least for a while. My partner runs but he is not a runner. He runs to keep fit, not as a lifestyle. He prefers action on water – whether it be a boat or a board. He looks at my ocean trails and says, there is just one problem. I want to be out there, on the ocean not next to it. As for our surroundings – forest trails – he prefers sports that can be practiced On the lake. You can run, but don’t expect me to join you. Fair enough. That is where we find our peace today.
EVOLVE When we moved to Sweden my running had to evolve. (Otherwise I would be divorced now) It took a while to land in the new and in some ways it felt like a loss. I said no to many things and yes to family. I was so grateful for what had been but not at ease with the future.
I think those Ultra thoughts were boiling and maybe in some ways distracting and I could not let them go.
However I know how time consuming a challenge like that is. Mentally and physically. I could not commit without feeling at peace and without the family’s blessing. My ego and drive strong enough to find a way to to go for a challenge like that. Maybe not exactly the way I dreamed or the way I would have preferred. But heres the thing.
You can do anything, just not everything.
PEACE My partner who has been with me for about 14 years knows its not a matter of if, but when with Sarah Eriksson. I miss those windsurfing days together. It was fun. Would I stop running? No. We don’t agree on everything but we do have the same values and dreams for how we want our lives to be. And especially anything that has to do with our children. We have learned to find peace with my running. Its taken time. There has been arguments, tears and disappointment. From both sides. He knows what it means to me. But he is clear that he will not support it if the family (as in our children) or business will suffer. And I am clear that running is something I will continue doing. There is a lot of peace in setting boundaries. Although its a tough one!
Girls! Dare to take time, dare to want time for you. There is nothing wrong with that.
Guys! Encourage her, support her and help her by saying she’s the one that must take and do, you won’t do it for her.
ULTRA So, sharing those dreams, showing it does matter and also letting my partner know without his support it will be hard to achieve I came to a decision with my Road To An Ultra dream. I wanted to run in a race, preferably some exotic place and would have loved to train pre-race in a different playground (flat forest trails is not so thrilling to me). If I stuck to these dreams it was not going to happen. And if it ever did, I would have been the biggest loser. So I invented an ultra that would fit partner, family and Sarah’s ego. 100km, Lanzarote, on my own and for a cause. Just the other day I overheard my partner say: “Its not raceday that’s the hard part to support. Its all the time and effort to get there.”
UNDERSTANDING The biggest shift to support is the understanding. It took me running and racing to understand how he felt being away doing what he loves. It wasn’t about not wanting to be with me or us. It was about doing something for him to give back more to us. All he wanted to do was sail and windsurf to recharge. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be with me. We found peace by me learning to sail and windsurf. Now I know that… Now I understand. But I have also learned that support is a two way communication. We don’t share the passion for trailrunning but we have found a way to make it work. Communicate, negotiate and be grateful for all the support you get. No matter how big or small. We are all doing the best we can.
THIS I HAVE LEARNED: My partner is not interested in hearing about my runs, my progression, the sore legs or the hungry body. I am ok with that. It doesn’t disappoint me (anymore). We have other dreams and other topics in common to talk about and that keep us connected. But he will be the first one to save me when I crash in the training, when I doubt the journey or when I’m about to give up. That is exactly the support I need. He is supportive as in allowing me to take family time to do what I love. I am beyond grateful, but I do need to stick to my guns about training. Did I say running is the easy part…