I changed the way I asked. I didn’t say, “Do you want to go running with me?,” which is emotionally freighted. It puts all the pressure on her. If she says ‘no,’ it’s a rejection, not of the run, but of me personally. “No,” it implies, “not with you.”
And that’s a fair answer. I am, after all, horrible, as evidenced here.
Instead, I said, “Will you go running with me?” That formulation puts the emotional weight on me. I’m asking her to do me the favor of running with me.
She said yes.
Now, for a pair of people who have bought and sold houses together, been through major renovations, raised two boys, etc., you would think that the simple act of deciding to go for a run together would be easy, but it’s not. It’s a knotty mess of impatience, ego trip, and resentment. There is the potential for both of us to come back more irritated than we left.
She has pedaled more miles than I have this year, and I have run more. As a result I’m faster on the trail than she is, and I need to slow down for us to run together. Sometimes I struggle to do that properly. She gets frustrated when I drop her, which is only right. She’s fit enough. There is no reason for me to run off ahead.
I also have a propensity for going farther than she wants to go. I’m more inclined to put myself into the hurt zone, and she doesn’t want me to put her there, too. Again. Totally fair.
As a result, she is often reticent about saying yes to my invitations.
But I like to be in the woods with her, and I don’t ask her to go without knowing that I need to adjust my pace and distance, even if I don’t always do it very well. I get frustrated with her hesitation and the conditions she introduces, even if I already know what they are. I get resentful that I always have to sell an outing to her, that I have to provide the plan and the motivation and all the compromise.
Today, after she said yes, we talked it out in the car, spread all our feelings out on the dashboard and looked them over. I said, “We can run any pace. You can ask me to slow down. We can walk. We can stop and look at things that are good to look at. I have no speed or time or distance goals, and you can assume, when I invite you to run with me, that these are the rules.”
Then we went and had a great run together.