Monday, July 25, 2005

Confessions of an Obsessive Runner

Yesterday afternoon my wife feel asleep on the couch so I went through my weight training routine, then went for a jog. The temperature was a mild 26C/79F so I decided to go an extra lap, 6K/3.7M, but at a reasonable slow pace (6:01/K, 9:40/M). I felt good after the run, not aches or pains. When I returned my wife was awake and I received the greeting "What, you were out running again?"

What’s gnawing at the back of my head?

Whenever my grandfather had some problem bugging him he would say that he had something “Gnawing at the back of his head.” Well lately I have had something gnawing at the back of my head like a woodpecker.

Sometime or other in the Spring I asked if any of you with non-running spouses/friends have any trouble with them supporting your “sport”. I mentioned that my wife is not necessarily overjoyed with my new found passion, only tolerant. To her credit she stood by me for all my half-marathons and marathon this year, keeping the water bottle full.

But my wife is currently home now until she starts a new job on August 15. She has a lot more time to think, and lately she has been thinking that my running is currently taking up entirely too much of my time. And after reading my training plan for the next two months this weekend the little comments started popping up: “Are you going to have any time for me?” “I hope you’re not planning to run any more marathons this year!” “You know you haven’t helped me around the house so much lately!”

Now any of you who have followed my running so far this year know I am totally obsessed with running. Running has become in intricate part of my life, I rarely have any problem getting out the door, I have more of a problem trying to rein myself in so I don’t over-train. I also take my running to extremes, most people I know run only a couple races a year. I’ve already run 8 races this year including 3 half-marathons and a marathon.

I have tried to compromise with my wife, I spent less time in the garden this year (we used to never have weeds!), I didn’t go in my woodworking shop very often, I tried to spend some time cooking, cleaning or ironing - little things to keep the missus happy. Well, since my wife has been home (3 weeks) I have been slacking up, no cooking, no ironing, too many nights in the workshop. My wife used to have school Monday and Wednesday nights, so she really didn’t notice how long my runs took on those nights, but now it is summer break. Add the fact that my training is REALLY intensifying over the next 5 weeks and you have the makings of a dilemma.

Now for all but the blind (and the obsessed) it is clear that I am overdoing it a bit with the racing this year. I originally had only planned on the one marathon in September, but couldn’t wait so ran one in May. So I guess you can say I have been asking for trouble.

So in any case I am pondering how I can keep the peace for the next 8 weeks until my marathon. I’ve come up with the following strategy:
- Take a week vacation next week and try to spend some quality time with my wife. Whatever she wants to do is fine with me. I will try to schedule my training around her schedule.
- Lock my workshop door and let my woodworking hobby go for awhile.
- Make a conscious effort to stop talking, reading or referring to running in any shape or form in front of my wife.
- Make a conscious effort to do those chores around the house that my wife is so fond of me doing.
- Don’t make any more race plans for the rest of the year (this is the hardest).

My last resort, break-glass-in-case-of-fire antidote is to axe my training by half and just run the half-marathon in September. The very thought of this is gut-wrenching, but my sweety is that important!

How do you guys find balance with your training and families? Or is this not a problem for you?

This is a HUGE problem for me, and one reason I haven't finished losing the weight I want to.

Old hobbies (like sewing and cross stitch) have largely fallen by the wayside, except to certain specific projects that I do make time for.

My husband plays D&D - I sed to resent that on D&D weekends he didn't help with housework. We've worked out a deal where he doesn't leave to play until we've finished the housework.

What worked for us was to sit down & make a schedule together. That way, we both felt like we got time to devote to our respective hobbies, and the other didn't feel liek they were being stuck with more than their fair load of the chores.

Maybe setting out a schedule togehter might help your wife feel she has more "say" in making plans.

Good luck Jack - I know you can find a happy medium ground.
My husband has been very supportive but, since I'm the one not working right now, I can do all my running before he gets home. Plus, my runs are shorter than most of your runs so, right now, I'm not gone that much - even on my "long run" Saturdays. That may change a bit soon.

Anyway, I'm sorry you're being pulled in a couple of different directions. Maybe your wife is at a point right now, with being out of work and being unsure what's next, where she needs some extra emotional support. Taking a week off to devote some extra time and attention to her may be what she needs to help her through this transition. Hopefully, it won't even come to a point where you'll have to make difficult choices.

You're a good hubby Jack :)
Oh, that's a tough one. Your plan sounds like a good one, it really does, but just try to remember that this may be more about her finding her bliss, than about you limiting yours. She's going through a rough patch, no doubt, with the job and then losing her normal routine. It may not ultimately matter how much you concede, she may not be totally satisfied until her little corner of the world is back on track, too. However, just the very fact that you're willing to do so much to give back some of that support she's given you this year, that's going to brighten her world a lot, I'm sure! Good luck with this one.... :)
I think what has worked for me and my hubby is that we both have 'obsessions' and we've just learned to be supportive of them. We both realize that the joy (and de-stressing) that our hobbies bring to us as individuals makes us better as a couple.

That being said, we make sure to 1) have a 'date nite' - once a week is ideal. and 2) speak up when we feel like we need extra attention or help around the house.

(It also doesn't hurt that we rarely have any days off he's usually at work when I do my long run on Saturday.)

I agree with what Mia said - this may be about your wife looking for something that makes her as happy as running makes you...or she's feels like she wishes she could make you that happy...(resentment or jealousy). You won't know unless you talk further about it.

Does she bike? Hubby bikes alongside me on occasion...

Good luck.
Hubby is generally supportive as he is glad I stuck with it. But like you I have become a bit obsessive with it. I did 3 half marathons and some smaller races as well this year and will likely do some more small stuff.

I am lucky in that on the weekends when I need to do my longer runs, he is usually working. As for the chores, it was part of our vows that he do the dishes, so that's never been an issue... :-)
Oh man, Jack, that is a big thing around my house. My wife has a copy of my training plan in her planner so she knows when I will be running. But I know it gnaws at the back of her head. ;)

I think secretly she tries to sabotage my running by keeping me up late at night so I will be too tired to run the next night. I counter this by falling asleep while standing. She gets the hint. :D

I need to balance the running talk. I try to keep it to a minimum and the talk about the blogs needs to be minimum too. I try to do my blogging when she's still in bed or out of the house so it doesn't look like I spend "all my time online".

Best of luck with it all, Jack. Its a tough balancing act.
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