I have a running coach.
I didn’t really mean to have one. It started innocently enough. The SO wanted to go to the track to run when I did. The first time we did our own thing. The second time I decided that in the spirit of togetherness I would do whatever he did.
Conversation while walking from the car to the track:
Him: You are the competition.
Me: I am?
Me: What is the competition?
Him: I don’t know yet.
Me: So, are you just going to look over at me at some point and say, “I win”?
Him: That wouldn’t be sporting.
Him: At this point, you are the better runner and that’s just pathetic.
Me, mock pouting: Thanks sweetie
Him: You know what I mean.
Ah, ego. This is why I hadn’t suggested running with him. He used to be really good. Like trophies around the house good. Now he is broken. He is not happy.
We warmed up by walking a lap and then started running on the straightaways on the track and walking the curves. I stayed a few steps behind him. I decided that it would be bad for the male ego if I passed him right off. We alternated walking, running full laps, and running on the straightaways for a while. I decided to see what would happen if I sped up a bit on one of the straightaways. He sped up too. I decided not to push it too hard and backed off. He didn’t mention it but as we approached the next running point he hissed back over his shoulder, “Easy!” Then he added laps. That may have just been a coincidence or I may have been being punished for being bad.
It reminded me of racing Spirit. He was always the fastest horse in the neighborhood. But as he got older young whippersnappers moved in. Then he was 20 years old racing 5 year olds and it was harder to win. He still could do it but the young horse would be close to him. I had to work out a system with the other rider before the race so that when we crossed the finish point that we had decided on they would stop their horse. If they didn’t Spirit wouldn’t stop. He would have killed himself rather than be passed in a race*. The male ego is a fragile thing.
The SO told me afterwords that I was a good running partner because I was determined. I’m not sure what that means exactly. He pushed me to go consistently faster than I would on my own and to do more intervals so that is good.
* Spirit got passed one time. I was 15 or 16. We had gone to a lesson and he was being a jerk. He wouldn’t listen at all. My instructor told me to take him into a large hay field. They had a path mowed around the edge. She said to run him all the way around to get some of his excess energy out so he could focus on his lesson. We were about halfway around moving at a really fast pace when I heard hoofbeats.
I looked back in time to see a blur fly past us like we were standing still. It surprised Spirit at first and then he kicked into another gear that I didn’t even know he had. He went about 25 yards and the other horse was still pulling away from us. Spirit slowed back down to the speed we were originally going. He knew it was hopeless. He was very subdued and listened to his lesson after that. I don’t think it was shaking off the excess energy as much as being publicly humiliated in his mind that made him mild mannered that day. Turns out the other horse was a Thoroughbred recently off the track who needed to run to even be sane in regular work but I don’t think Spirit would have cared that he only ever got beaten by a professional racer.