In many ways, I am decidedly “ungirly” if you buy into the stereotypes of what makes someone “girly.” I have never had a manicure, pedicure or massage and have never really desired to have any of these. I don’t enjoy getting my hair done. I don’t really wear makeup aside from eyeliner unless it’s a special occasion. I hate shopping for shoes. I prefer beer over cocktails. I would rather watch sports than the Real Housewives of Wherever. I don’t really fantasize about a wedding and I’d kind of rather just go to courthouse. I lack the mom gene and I have no idea how to interact with children.So basically poor Joe is dating a guy.
Now, to be fair, I do have a number of “girly” characteristics. I am terrified of bugs and snakes. I cry during ASPCA commercials. I plan my schedule around how long it will take me to perfectly straighten my hair. I love Pinterest. And although I hate shoe shopping, I do love clothes shopping.
All of this ran through my head when I came across an article in Runner’s World the other day called “Can Love and Running Coexist?” It discussed the reasons why running with your partner can be difficult even though you might think it would be great to run with the person you love. I always go into these stories with skepticism because sometimes these types of articles assume all men have one type of personality and all women have another. Would my “ungirly” characteristics mean that I don’t really fit with this preconceived notion of how women behave and react? Or has biology hardwired me to certain dispositions?
The article basically came down to how men and women perceive running together and how we communicate with each other when we run. For example, if I ask Joe how he’s feeling during a run, he may take that as “you look like you might be struggling” and feel insulted. If he doesn’t ask me that question, then I think he doesn’t care. For women, it’s bonding time and men have to accept this and may need to scale back their pace and focus on the woman’s needs (which I found somewhat insulting because plenty of women are faster than their boyfriends/spouses).
So is this all true? When I’m running with Joe, my thoughts are pretty much focused on just putting one foot in front of the other, controlling my breathing and making sure I don’t get hit by a car. During a run, I am usually pretty unemotional about Joe. Sure, some days I feel very happy with how I’m doing and I love running. Other days I’m angry and hate running. But my feelings about Joe don’t really come into play during the run.
…after a run, all bets are off. This is when my “emotional woman” feelings kick in. Here’s a little example from this morning.
When I woke up, I was grumpy. It was about 4:30 and I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep before having to get out of bed at 5. We had burgers and fries for dinner last night, topped off by several handfuls of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch for dessert. I figured these foods would just make me feel miserable when I ran so I was dreading it. My Garmin was still dead. We were slow getting out the door. So basically I was a ray of sunshine when we headed out.
A little more than a mile in and the endorphins were flowing. I was thinking to myself, “I love running!!!!!” (Yes, all those exclamations points are necessary for emphasis.) We were running relatively fast and I didn’t hurt in any way. Joe decided to run the whole three miles with me (he usually doesn’t) and he was trying to pace me to a finishing time that began somewhere in the 24 minute area.
Final time: 25:21.
Woo! I thought that was great. Sure it didn’t start with a 24 but it was a fast time for me, especially considering how I thought I was going to do when I headed out. You’re not going to PR every time you run and I was happy that I just got the three miles in and felt happy. No more grumpy pants for me.
And then Joe asked our time.
“Oh, too bad,” he said, with obvious disappointment in his voice.
I felt like kicking him.
When I asked him why he was disappointed, he said he was trying to get me to PR and wondered why our last mile was so slow (it wasn’t even our slowest, it was 8:21!).
“You could have done better.”
Now I felt like punching him. Repeatedly.
“You’re a jerk,” I said.
For the entire walk back to our apartment, we argued about this. He accused me of getting into a negative place in my head and underestimating what I can do. I told him I was just trying to focus on the positive parts of the run. I told him he was the one pacing us, so really, it’s his fault.
“And by the way,” I added, “you have absolutely no idea how to hold a steady pace. I run better without you.”
That last sentence is the kicker. I’ve gotten used to running without him, and honestly, I don’t need him to run with me. Maybe some women value running together as bonding time but I don’t feel like running time is really bonding time. It’s MY time to focus on making MYSELF faster. So take that Runner’s World. Maybe we do need to work on how we communicate with each other after a run, but I am not that woman who is trying to bring us closer together through running.
So why do I bring him with me on these morning runs? To protect me from the scary murderers, robbers and rapists lurking on the D.C. streets before dawn.
Okay, so maybe I am a little girly after all.