Run your own race rather than preach about it
In her fortnightly column, RUTH FIELDoffers commonsense running advice
HOW CAN I convince my boyfriend to come running with me?
I have been asked this several times and, in fact, I’m forever asking myself why my other half seems permanently glued to the sofa.
It is very tempting once you have caught the running bug to evangelise about it incessantly to anyone who will listen. This is our first error.
It is deeply uncool, weird and almost cult-esque to talk about running in the manner of a religious zealot. Converts (to running that is) know it can be precisely that – a religious experience – but far better to practise it rather than preach it, and quietly. Think more Buddhist monk, less born-again Christian if you get my drift.
The bottom line is: “convince” is a dirty word. If you are trying to convince someone of anything, you are frankly already onto a sticky wicket. It has an air of desperation, of begging that is never going to make it an attractive proposition. I remember my pupil master telling me when I was training to be a barrister never to try to convince a jury of my case. Show them. Lead them to it. Let them choose it.
Ultimately, your boyfriend has to choose running for himself, or not, as the case may be. My husband is an atheist and I don’t waste a minute trying to convince him that God exists.
He has made up his mind and is sticking to it and I need to respect that. Do I care? Yes, deeply. But the only thing I can actually do about it is go to Mass, say prayers with the twins and be consistent in my actions.
Back when we were living in France and I was writing Run Fat Bitch Run, my husband did take up running, and got a huge amount out of it, but since having the twins he has fallen off the running wagon big time. When challenged, he will cite the twins, work, and name every excuse in the book followed by an inevitable “and I effing hate it” tagged onto the end. Fair enough.
But he does need it. He is overweight and unfit. Last weekend he played a game of tennis against a great pal and was comprehensively thrashed. I very gently pointed to Chris’s fitness, to his regular running as the reason for his having the edge on Olly. Olly is amazing at tennis and I told him this but he could be a million times better if his fitness improved. And he saw this for himself in that game of tennis. This did the trick to get him outside – once – but getting him into the habit is another matter altogether. And ultimately it is all about habit, about regular practise. Going once is meaningless. The practise, the discipline of running is, for me, much like the practise, the discipline of going to Mass. My faith in both God and running only exist when I practise them. Regularly.
And, remember that you are doing this for yourself – running – and the pleasure and satisfaction you derive from it should not be contingent upon your other half joining in. Don’t let it matter. Show him how well it is working for you. Show him how much happier, slimmer, healthier you are and let him make up his own mind about joining you for a run. And don’t let it bother you if time and time again he chooses the sofa instead.
Just keep doing what you are doing, keep being consistent and one day he may just surprise you. Don’t kill yourself trying to convince him to come running. Don’t waste your valuable running time arguing about it, and banging on about the benefits.
You will only make yourself very unhappy in the process. Instead of talking the walk, just keep walking it. We can only run our own race after all. And I for one like it that way.
The Grit Doctor says:
Actions always speak louder than words. Let the practise of regular running and the benefits it so evidently brings be your voice.
Tweet your queries to Ruth Field at: @gritdoctor
See also: irishtimes.com/bodyandsole