The Vulnerable Co-Runner

I went for a run this past week in Chicago along the lakefront path, through neighborhoods and past the beautiful college, Northwestern.  No headphones, all breath, a lot of thoughts. As I was running, I started to have visuals of all the people I had once run with and actually, the shoes I wore on the many loops I created in past homes.  The circle I ran around Indiana University in my turquoise Nike Shox. The corn field trail I ran around my Grandma's house in my neon green Asics that once made me late for my cousin's wedding rehearsal dinner.  The beach boardwalk here in my current hood of Venice, California in my purple Nike Free's, where there is more people watching than I know what to do with.

And the people.  Confession: I don't run with a lot of people one on one.  There is truly such a vulnerability in the co-run.  At least for me, there most definitely is.  My ego takes over and asks 20 questions, like: will I be fast enough for them, what if I really slow them down and they don't feel like they got a work out in, can I make the mileage we agree upon, will they think I am fit, what if I have to walk, what if they talk to me and I am too winded to respond, what if there is a hill and I fall behind, what if I actually fall, what if I get that rib cage cramp thing, omg, what if if I puke...?  And the questions go on and on and then, I just run alone.

True story.

However, when I look back at the people I have run with, the people that have actually convinced me to go side by side, breath by breath, bruising my ego and telling me they will go slower for me, I realize the running has been a cool stepping stone in my relationships.  There is usually a high five at the end of the run, a sweaty hug, or even better, a glass of wine or cold beer.  The fatigue of my body, like in yoga, actually fatigues the ego and the walls I put up and the run actually allows me to open up.  Thus, after a workout, the person I sweat with get a closer look, an insiders edge to Jacki Carr.  And I like that for me and for them.

I obviously have been thinking a lot about relationships and the vulnerability in running.  I see it as almost a silent yet powerful communication when running with someone.  The faster breath, the pumping arms, the strides and measure in keeping up with one another and knowing when to ask to slow down.  There really is no time or space for the ego, doubt, worry, embarrassment or fear of falling down with all that breathing and syncing going on.  You actually have to choose to be in relationship on the run.  And what is so beautiful, it allows you to be in a deeper relationship when the run is over.  In the real deal, this whole life game.  A radical reflection of how to show up, open and willing to run....together.  Magic.

So when venturing out on your next run, consider the softening of the ego, grab a friend, family or lover, lace up your kicks and move together.  It is so worth the connection, the accountability and the practice of vulnerability.