There was a stage in the first lockdown (although most of Leicestershire has been under some form of lockdown since March, so we don’t really distinguish between them), when restrictions began to lift, yet pubs and restaurants remained closed. In other words, we could ask our babysitter to come round but we had nowhere do go when she got here! That’s when my wife and I decided to start running together for the first time since well before Philip appeared into our lives.
In many ways it was an act of mutual desperation: the exact date of when we last ran together may be obscured in the mists of time, but the memories of the undulating routes I tended to pick (“come on, this is not really a hill!”) which may have pushed the envelope of the agreed distance and – more traumatcally – my wife’s reaction to them (and to any hint of mud) remained as fresh as ever!
Yet, as Philip’s nursery remained closed and neither of us had had an adult conversation outside work for a good three months, we decided to give it a shot. After all, what had we to lose but our wedding bands?
And it went surprisingly well! My route picking skills have certainly improved over the years, and I went for a variation of one of my favourite towpath runs, taking in some new fields I had recently discovered. There was only one hill involved, although it may have accounted for about a third of the route… But the real transformation was in Demi: Running no longer was a means to an end for her, it had become something she enjoyed for its own sake (yes, even with her husband)!
That first Date Run was on a modest 5 ½ mile off-road loop from a newly developed local beauty spot (Everards Meadows, for anyone local). The pace was comfortable and we enjoyed the kind of chat you can only have when running (there is a good reason why many mental health charities have adopted gentle talking runs as a means of support: there are loads of such groups, some local, others, like www.runtalkrun.com part of a network with good representation throughout UK&I). It ended with a takeaway coffee from the independent coffee shop and a stretch of legs on the grass. Our marriage, you will be pleased to hear, survived that and even the more adventurous Date Runs that have followed. In fact, we have enjoyed it so much that even when we were briefly allowed to dine out we still alternated between a morning babysit for a run and an evening one for a more conventional date night!