Tardy training partner…

Is a heart rate monitor and a dog the best training partner?

As I sit here waiting for my training partner to show up for a run, I contemplate whether it’s worth having a training partner at all. I’ve been sitting on my front porch wearing my running clothes for over half an hour now. He’s late, and as always happens in this situation, I feel frustrated. I want to train together. It’s fun and it’s nice to have something to do together and a goal to achieve together.  But I can’t tolerate the tardiness. I’ve joked about it before. Saying that his lack of attention to being prompt always gives me snippets of time to do other things. Unexpected 20 or 30 minute blocks where I can clean the refrigerator or write this blog or clip my toenails. But I can never seem to stop being annoyed by it. I have a compulsion to be ready on time. If we plan for a 9am run, at 815 I start counting backwards.

“Ok, I have 15 more minutes to read and drink coffee, then I’ll spend 10 minutes putting away the breakfast stuff and tidying up. At 840 I’ll check the temperature outside and go down to my closet to figure out what to wear for today’s run. I’ll start getting dressed at 845, drink some water and then be sitting on the front steps at 9am, ready to run….”

But at 938, I’m still sitting here. He just texted saying he’s “on his way.” Which, although not unexpected, grates at my nerves. I was supposed to be returning home from my run in 22 minutes and eating lunch before planning the rest of my day.

So I arrive at my question. Is the best training partner just a heart rate monitor and a dog?

The dog never has errands to run, work to go to or outfits to choose. He’s ready at any moment to run with me. And the argument that a training partner keeps me accountable just doesn’t fly with me. I’ve never had a problem staying accountable to my workouts. I just set the timer on my heart rate monitor and follow the prompts for the prescribed set of time.

But there’s joy in having a training partner that neither a dog nor a heart rate monitor contributes.

Specifically, dogs and gadgets are not known for their sense of humour. Neither will laugh with me as we struggle along in the headwind or get rerouted by yet another road construction team. The dog and the gadget are not going to jokingly tell me that the next running drill requires us to run barefoot; in spite of the temperature being well below zero and the trail a frozen luge track. And the dog and the heart rate monitor are certainly not going to hug me and tell me how cute I look with frozen eyelashes while we’re struggling to finish our 10km run in a driving north wind.

The gadget and the dog are never late, but they lack the human qualities of tenderness, compassion and a sense of humour that are also so integral to sticking to this gruelling training program. I may not need the jokes and compassion every day, but it’s worth sticking with my human training partner for at least some of the workouts. He might be late most of the time, but he’ll always make me feel better about the pain of the workout and he’ll always make me laugh. The time spent waiting for him to show up? A perfect opportunity to write this blog or vacuum the backseat of the car or alphabetize my library of training books.

The struggle is better when you're together
The struggle is better when you’re together

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