For most of us, running is a passion that we did not grow up with, but instead discovered later on in life. I mean, let’s face it, not many of us actually enjoyed running the mile in middle school gym class, did we? For some, the love of running stemmed initially from a weight loss journey. Others started running with the intention of completing a race, perhaps a bucket list item. Or maybe a co-worker suckered you into racing a local 5K. Whatever the reason, you now find yourself utterly hooked on running. You want to spend all of your free time training or racing. You constantly want to talk about running, read about running, or watch movies about running. You want to share your love of running with everyone you meet!
Unfortunately, not everyone is as enthusiastic about running as you are. And what’s worse…sometimes those who are not in the running fan club are the same people who are normally in your fan club: your loved ones. Not having support from your loved ones can be more than simply disappointing, it can be downright hurtful. So what do you do when your loved ones don’t support your running journey?
Talk to Them.
Perhaps your partner or family simply don’t understand exactly why you are suddenly so enthusiastic about running, and that confuses or scares them. Maybe they have fears and insecurities that are convincing them you want to spend less time with them, so you are literally running away. Maybe they think you are going overboard with your “weight loss” method (because some people don’t understand that there is any other reason to run). Or maybe they simply want you to stop talking about running for five minutes so they can discuss something they enjoy talking about.
Keep an open line of communication with your loved ones. Explain exactly what running means to you, why it is important to you, and why you are pursuing the sport. Genuinely ask what their hesitations are regarding your love for running, and truly listen to them when they explain their concerns. Talking freely, openly, and regularly can help prevent any resentment on either end.
Let’s take a moment to discuss a harsh truth: Too much of a good thing can be bad. Yes, you love to run, but has running taken over your life? Has running replaced much of your free time with your loved ones? Is running affecting your life or your family’s lives in a negative way—emotionally, physically, or financially? Have your priorities changed in a way that negatively affects those closest to you?
Now, I’m certainly not pointing fingers. If you have gone from a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle to an active, healthy one, then your change in priorities is clearly a beneficial one. If someone doesn’t support a change that improves your health, then perhaps they are the negative one in this situation. If this is the case, maybe the re-evaluating you should be doing here is whether that person is a positive influence in your life. But if running has become such a priority to you that other important things and people in your life are beginning to suffer, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate how your actions are possibly hurting others.
Accept that not everyone will understand.
Some people will never understand why we choose to run for fun. These are generally the same people who will say something like “I only run when being chased by a bear.” And the truth is, it’s okay for them not to understand. If you’ve talked to your loved ones about your passion for running and they’ve talked to you about their lack thereof, then maybe it’s time to “agree to disagree.” There are certainly still plenty of things that you share in common—after all, they are the most important people in your life!
Find a support system.
Even if you agree to disagree about your love for running, it is still incredibly helpful to have people in your life who do understand and support you. Your best bet here is other runners. Finding a running support system will give you someone to celebrate your new 5K training personal best time with and someone to vent your frustration to over a race that didn’t go the way you planned. Or maybe it would be nice for you to simply have someone to ramble on with about the latest release of your favorite sneakers and other topics that would be meaningless and uninteresting to non-runners.
At the end of the day, not everyone is going to understand your love for running, just as you may not understand the appeal of someone else’s hobby. It can be a tough pill to swallow, emotionally, to know that your loved ones aren’t jumping up and down with excitement over your running.
So remember why you took up the sport of running. My guess is because you love it. Don’t let anyone ruin that passion for you. As long as you can find a balance that ensures there is no resentment between you and your loved ones, then keep on running.