The New Year's Eve after my now-husband proposed wasn't particularly eventful, but that didn't stop us from overindulging to the point of regret. Ringing in the new year with a massive hangover, I realized that I was beginning this new epoch as an engaged woman as someone with a little extra weight and not enough exercise. My fiancé, although he would never admit it, probably felt the same.
We reminded one another to take care of ourselves, which is a lot easier to do when you know you have someone who is also looking out for you.
Since we were in our mid-20s then, living in San Francisco with friends, and without the real responsibility that comes with having children, he and I lived pretty well. We would cook elaborate dinners and go out for drinks almost nightly. Most weekends were spent lounging at the park or bouncing from one brunch spot to the next. Our world was one of consumption, and it was lovely; the kind of lifestyle you can only really get away with if you either have a lot of money or not a lot of responsibility.
Exercise did not greatly factor into our relationship together. If we were lucky, some days we would play tennis, assuming we could get a space at the often-crowded courts. At least a couple times a year, there would be a hiking trip planned with friends, but since we usually ended up eating and drinking and only sweat a little, I don't think that really counts in the realm of habitual exercise. By and large, our time was spent talking, eating, drinking, exploring the city, and watching movies.
Regardless of whether we decided to begin exercising together because of the wedding, or just because we were slowly maturing into the kind of people who wanted to make time for it, we began running together. We started slowly, like barely able to finish a couple miles slowly, but little by little it got easier. Instead of needing music to listen to, we got more comfortable with talking with one another, making the run feel like a date. We talked about the wedding, of course, but also about the future and topics of interest.
Sometimes, we wouldn't need to talk. We'd just run next to each other as we both tried to navigate the tourists that were sauntering down the Embarcadero. Weekend mornings that had previously been spent sleeping in and going to brunch now began with a run where the city itself helped us wake up.
Running turned out to be more than just exercise. It confirmed that we could enjoy the silence of just our steady breath and feet pounding on the pavement. Running allowed us to plan for races, giving us something to continually do together and look forward to. While my husband didn't particularly love running, he does love running with me and making it a part of our day. Even now, six years later, we often will do family runs where we alternate who gets to (OK — has to) push the jogging stroller.
Running with a partner is about compromise and anticipating the needs of someone else. While our relationship has always been strong, learning to run together helped us see each other in a new light, one where we monitored each other's well-being constantly and learned to speed up or slow down as the other person needed. We reminded one another to take care of ourselves, which is a lot easier to do when you know you have someone who is also looking out for you. For us, running was truly a match well-made.