This past week — on my vacation, mind you — I enjoyed running on the beach. In a hate-love sort of way. I may have mentioned I hate running? But I do love it after I’m done — and that loving feeling seems to last long enough for me to start a run again the next day. And then the hate begins anew. But it was vacation, and my other fitness options (i.e. my health club group exercise classes) weren’t available. However, my personal trainer (i.e. my husband) was. Running with him appeared a viable option.
I would describe my relationship with my husband as more of a loved-love-love-hate-love relationship. I loved him enough to marry him. I love him enough to stay married to him. I love the idea of having a physical therapist/personal trainer for my husband. I just hate having to do what he says (i.e. run, Sara, run). I love him again after the exercise is a thing of the past.
(Did I mention I actually lost weight over this vacation?)
But let me focus on the hate-love relationship with running/ my husband. It is hard to separate the two.
Do you know how parents will urge a child just learning to swim to “swim to me,” as they designate a minuscule distance in the pool? And then when the child commits to that distance, the parent keeps backing farther and farther away?
That is my husband’s method for personal training.
The first day of running wasn’t so bad. Since both my husband and I were beginning a running routine, we determined we would do a run-walk, running for two minutes, walking for one. Not just once, mind you. Not just three times, Sara. (I may have whined after three.) Eight times. We started off with clouds and lightning in the distance, and we weren’t fast enough to keep them in the distance. (But the storm definitely gave me a reason to run back, and it made the run much cooler.)
The next day, we started our run-walk shortly after 9 a.m., and the sun was already too high and hot for my pale self. I applied sunscreen — which then dripped into my eyes, forcing me to run with my eyes closed. It was misery. We had extended our distance, and my husband extended the final run-walk rotation to a three-minute run. I hated him. I hated the run. I hated how far away from the condo we were. I bent my shoulders to let my sweat splash the sand rather than my eyes — to help myself endure the run — and then got scolded for poor posture. Sigh.
The following morning, that hated man decided to ride his bike instead of run, and so I set off shortly after 7 a.m. solo, enjoying the shadows of the buildings and the relative cool of the morning. I had no watch and, thus, ran on my feelings. I set distance goals for running and walking and hated no one but myself for my misery. It was a good day.
But my husband, the P.T. (physical therapist? personal trainer? personal terrorist?) ran the rest of the vacation days with me. (Yea, me.) He wore the watch and held me captive.
“Should we shorten our walks to 45 seconds instead of one minute?” he asked.
“O… K…,” I panted.
We had started early and were running on the flat part of the beach, nearer the buildings and their shadows than the waves and their treacherous, obstacle-course-like runnels.
After we’d managed a couple run-walk rotations with the abbreviated walk cycles, my husband suggested we lengthen the runs to 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
“What… e… ver…,” I breathed.
By this time, I spent my running time getting farther and farther behind his footsteps, looking ahead to see him glance at his watch, anticipating the upcoming more restful walk, to stop as soon as I saw him stop. He spent half of his walks walking back to me and then walking with me for a few feet before saying, “Five, four, three, two, one” and leaping back into the running mode.
I remained speechless (gulping air) during our walks, but I, too, jumped into running mode at his signal, ever obedient.
After nine runs, I figured I’d already accomplished more than I had the other days and felt it. I was spent. Done. Sore. Tired. But during our “last” walk, my husband said to me, “That last run was 3 minutes.”
I suspected as much. He was the proverbial parent in the pool, extending the running time beyond what I had expected. But did he stop? No. He began another run and then ran on and on and on; I ran only until I reached our cooler of water and revolted. Enough. More than enough. I grabbed an ice water and walked. Who knew how many minutes this crazy man was tacking on to this run?
“That was good,” my dear husband said, when he joined me after grabbing a bottle of water from the cooler. “Four minutes. You know, you don’t have to do everything I do. You’ve got to listen to your body.”
Fine time to tell me that.
The last day at the beach, as we started off, my husband suggested we cut our walks down to 30 seconds and boost our runs to 3 minutes. I suspected from the onset that the walking rests were getting shorter and the runs longer. His walks were turned back to me, as I trailed further and further behind, but he rarely made it all the way back before the next run began. He walked and talked, offering advice or commenting on the run before announcing the dreaded “Five, four, three, two, one…” and resuming the run; I just tried to catch my breath during those short walking breaks. We ran, again and again.I suspected the runs were getting longer, but I focused on my breathing pattern and putting one foot in front of the other and finishing, eventually. I hated running. And my personal trainer. But still I kept running.
And then we were done, cooling off with ice and water and a slow walk, and, finally, a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. I could see rain in the far distance, not threatening us, gray on one side and misty white on the other. I rejoiced as a large rainbow appeared, cutting the gray rain from the white mist. A second rainbow arced over the first. I wished I had my camera with me but could only capture the image in my mind as I lay in the water, feeling the refreshment from the water and the personal pride from what I’d just accomplished flood over me, allowing the heat and the hate to escape from my body.
Ahh, running with my husband.
What’s not to love?