For better or worse.

I run about 40 to 50 km a week. That’s about 10 km 4 times a week. Depending on my schedule I run between 45 and 90 minutes sometimes even 2 hours. I follow my training schedule vigorously, which means that sometimes I run so fast that I can barely catch my breath and sometimes so slow, I could write an essay while running and in my mind, I usually do. Uphill I run twice as fast, as downhill and whenever I feel like I am about to pass out, I keep on going, because that’s the only way you improve yourself. Usually when I run, I listen to carefully chosen playlists including music by lifehouse, Sean Paul and Bastille, audiobooks by Mitch Albom about the meaning of life and Paulo Coehlo about the insanity of living and last but not least I listen to podcasts ranging from “stuff you should know” to “This American Life”. But as you can imagine, after the 14th time in a week of listening to ‘The eye of the tiger’, ‘Eddie discovered that he had Shingles’ and ‘This is Ira Glass on this week’s edition of ‘This Amerian Life’ it gets pretty boring. No matter how often I change playlists and podcasts and audiobooks. On rare instances I run with my dad, but since he lives in Austria and I don’t, we only run together when we are in the same country. Other than that I run by myself. I am a lone runner. Giving this small introduction to my running routine, you now know, what I am up to, 4 times a week, come wind and high water, blasting sunshine or freezing snow. I am equipped for what ever life (and the Norwegian weather) throws at me.

Currently I am training for my next half-marathon in Oslo, which will take place the third week of September 2013. My dad invited himself to run along side with me, which is pretty exciting for me, as he never has seen Oslo without snow. But it’s still 6 weeks away and as you can imagine, finding the energy and the drive within myself to go for a run, day in day out, gets really difficult and exhausting. When you train for a marathon, or for anything for that matter, it is not only the physical capability you train, but much more your mental capability. So that at km 14 you don’t give up, you don’t give in in the urge to stop. You have to keep going, that is, what is most difficult. Convincing yourself, that you can do it and cheering on yourself, so you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even when rewarding myself with the greatest and most wonderful views of Oslo while running, it is hard. Not even the enticing smell of chocolate, that I smell whenever I step outside helps (thanks to the chocolate factory located right behind my house). If anything it makes me want to linger right in front of the vents of the factory, just standing there hours and hours at a time.

One day I asked A to join me, I was only half-kidding. I mean, obviously, he would not run with me, due to his physical conditions, but he could bike with me. I went on on a 15 minute ramble on how this would benefit the both of us, what he would get out of it, it would be a great way spending more time together and so on. With a little hesitation he finally agreed. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into, after all my schedule and my heart-rate that I frantically write down, as soon as I come home from a run, don’t mean anything to him. He quickly discovered, that when running, I am not very responsive, but I listen, to everything he says, because I can’t get away. I have to run and since I only have to legs and he is biking, he will always be faster and will always keep up with me. A is like a life-size ipod, that you cannot turn off. He talks and talks and talks and talks and talks… I love it, I really do, because he doesn’t need me to respond, he just needs me to listen and I listen (because that’s all I can do). About any and everything. He pushes me to do better, he pushes me to run faster when I feel like my legs are about to give in. He encourages me to keep going, even if I feel like I cannot go any further. And not once do I stop (unless there is a red light or immediate danger caused by not slowing vehicles).

I take A with me on every kind of run, it doesn’t matter if it’s uphill for most of the time, or downhill, it doesn’t matter if it’s 30 minutes or 75. Once I took him with me to my interval-training, where I run small stretches as fast as I can just to get my heart-rate pumping and then slow down again, for about 10 minutes, this is intense for me, and every step I take, when having to do intervals, is paining me in a way, I cannot describe. You free yourself by letting go of all the limits you give yourself. Like a child, you run as fast as you can, only you are very aware of your body, of every movement you make and you know when to slow down and when to speed up. This phenomena was new to A. I explained beforehand what I was about to do but seeing me do it, left him open mouthed and flabbergasted. Obviously he still could keep up with me, but he said, he never imagined me of all people to run that fast and he doesn’t understand, why anyone put themselves through this misery. I think, those times are the fun times, obviously not while you do them, but afterwards, when you feel a sense of pride in your inner core. On one of our tours we came across a bridge that had a large incline. A would paddle up the hill in higher gear, he would go as fast as he humanly  possible and feel good about it. That was until I discovered the juggernaut in me and ran up behind him. I ran as fast I could up the hill and a few split seconds I was faster than him, his jaw dropped and he almost forgot to paddle but he took on the challenge and paddled even faster and I tried to run even faster. But eventually my body got the better of me, I am not build to run fast, I am short and stocky, that’s alright, I can live with it, but I can also live with the small victory that every now and then I outrun A.

And this is what a relationship is about, being there for the other person, to push them to even do better, when they don’t think, they can do it. Listening to the other person, when your heart is pounding out your chest because of exhaustion. Surprising the other with showing off your capabilities, spending time together at a time and place where your red-faced self can barely catch a breath. But most important is, to gain a new sense of respect for the other person. A accompanying me taught me much about him, about his way of thinking, about how he approaches difficulties at his job and how he sees life. It makes me even prouder and happier to have chosen him, for better and worse.

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