Over the last few weeks my training has ramped up in preparation for the Grayson Highlands 50k (hopefully one of the prettiest races in Virginia). That means added stress on my body, my mind (from not eating pizza) and most importantly my wife.
Ultrarunning adds many positive things to people’s lives- helps them stay in shape, shows them what is possible, demonstrates what they can overcome, makes them feel like a badass (complete with the superpower of running long long distances), etc, etc, etc.
But if you aren’t careful the negatives start to reveal themselves.
Specifically in relationships. Countless families have probably suffered due to obsessing over this crazy sport. I’m sure divorces have happened because one member places “running” above “making the other happy.”
I’m grateful to say that this isn’t the case in my household.
Ultimately I’m a husband/father first and an athlete second….and a wannabe chef/rock god in a very distant third.
These are a few strategies I use to follow the classic advice “a happy wife= a happy life.”
- Involve your family- Invite them to your race. Aid station volunteers, crew, post-race activities are all great ways in involving your family the day of the race. The ultrarunning community is THE BEST and I highly suggest exposing your family to the other fantastic people you meet during a race. My wife really enjoys hanging out at the finish line chatting with the other runners’ crew members. Although she isn’t a runner, now she gets one of the reasons I love ultrarunning so much- the super cool people you meet.
- Family time can mean training time– Hiking with your kids is just extra training. Playing with your family after a long training run is just “overtime”. Family time can be an opportunity to put in extra work. Ultrarunning isn’t all about running, so do yoga with your kids, have them help you with foam rollers, go for walks or bike rides. Your family might not be able to do your training runs with you, but all the other stuff counts, so play with your family as much as possible and you will ultimately achieve extra training.
- Wake up early- I mean EARLY. Freakin’ early! Man up and set the alarm for the tear-inducing early hours for your long training runs. I usually do a 4am Saturday morning. Running through the pitch black woods might be cold and scary but it’s a necessity in my training cycle. Training for an Ultra takes time and it is important to prioritize your family before yourself. So get up and run before sunrise (it’ll give you that much needed “night running” practice), have some extra coffee and spend the rest of your day with your family and friends. You will enjoy the your day even more knowing you’ve already knocked training off the to do list.
- Skip a training session– If something important comes up, skip training. Family is more important and skipping one day is not going to hurt you.
- Support your significant other’s passions– An eye for an eye. They are supporting your goals so you have no excuse not to support whatever interest they have.
- Be nice…even when you are bonking– They didn’t choose to run an ultra. You did. Have integrity to put their feelings above your own, especially when you are feeling like complete shit.
- Smelly hugs are the best hugs– Don’t shy away from giving them a gigantic gross sweaty hug at the finish line. You’ve been waiting a long time for this moment, they’ve been waiting a long time for this moment too. Share your joy with them. It’ll probably be the best hug ever!
Hope this advice helps! Remember family always comes first.