My boyfriend and I love running and we’re both competitive people, even though we never challenge each other directly. On the contrary, we encourage each other to do our best. Last December, I signed for a 21K race and he signed the marathon, both of which will be held in about four weeks. Neither of us has ever run such long distances. I’ve been training twice a week, but he, however, doesn’t even have a training plan and I’m concerned that he’s not ready for the marathon.
I told him that I don’t think he’s ready, and that he should go for the 21K instead (even though in my opinion he’s not even prepared for that distance either). I told him it was irresponsible and not wise to do the full marathon, and I even told him I was not going to be proud of him. It’s a little harsh, but I’m worried about his safety. Even if he finishes the race, he could get seriously injured, have joint problems, and — I’m thinking the worst — a heart attack. He’s 25 and doesn’t have any cardiac problems, but I still think is reckless and risky.
Apart from those concerns, I’m feeling resentful and angry about his behavior. I really think it’s irresponsible and immature of him to attempt this. I’d have supported him if he’d had enough training but that’s not the case. I think he’s just trying to test himself and have something to brag about — some sort of alpha male stuff. As a result, I’m disappointed and confused about how to deal with this. Am I being overprotective? Is it right to feel angry and disappointed or am I being immature too? — Runner’s Low
Wait, your boyfriend is a healthy 25 year-old who “loves running” and has no history or cardiac problems and you’re worried he’s going to have a heart attack completing the marathon? Really?! You realize that, like, senior citizens regularly complete the marathon, right? And sure, while it’s not advisable to actually run 26.2 miles without sufficient training, walking or even jog-walking that distance over the course of five or six hours certainly isn’t life-threatening for a healthy 25 year-old male. Will he be sore the next day? For sure. Might he get so sick he barfs all over himself? Maybe. Will he give up the race after mile two and go eat a burger and down a pitcher of beers? It’s certainly possible. But if the guy’s in good enough shape to actually run the whole 26.2 miles at 25 years of age, he’ll probably finish it one piece just fine, and I think you probably know that.
So, let’s talk about what’s really bothering you here: you resent that your boyfriend may very well have bragging rights for finishing a race twice the distance of yours without even working for it. He’s stealing your thunder. He’s taking away your bragging rights. He’s making it hard for you to be proud of yourself when he’s accomplishing a feat twice as great without even trying. That’s what this is about. And yeah, you’re being immature for making the achievement of your goal a competition with your boyfriend. It’s not good for your relationship, and it’s certainly not good for your self-esteem. You need to learn to separate your goals from your boyfriend’s goals — your path to success from his path to success.
If you can’t be proud of yourself without feeling like your accomplishment was bigger and better than your boyfriend’s, and if your boyfriend’s accomplishments threaten your own sense of achievement, you might not have the maturity necessary for a healthy relationship. But if you aren’t ready to give up what you’ve got with your boyfriend, lay off the whole race talk and accept that his journey is not yours. What you’ll gain from training and completing your race will not be threatened by what your boyfriend does or doesn’t accomplish himself. Rather than be a resentful nag, be an inspiration to your boyfriend. Show him that finishing the race is only part of the goal. Preparing yourself for the challenges you’ll face on the way is a far bigger accomplishment, and one you can only achieve when you put in the effort. That goes for running and loving.
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