20 Feb

Love On The Run

Love on the Run

Valentine's Day turned my mind to the number of runners I have met who have found love through running, writes Chris Broadbent. These are the lucky souls for whom the sport has got their heart pounding even when not running.

In my experience, most running clubs in the UK will point to a couple for whom love has blossomed through a shared passion for the sport. Even at the top level, GB team mates Jemma Simpson and Chris Thompson (pictured) are a couple.

I spoke to Susanna Abse, a couple psychotherapist at the Tavistock Centre For Couple Relationships in London about how running can help people find love.

She said: "If you have a shared passion then it creates a real connection. You think 'this person knows me, this person understands me'. People might meet over a shared passion, but it's also important to recognise that people shift as they develop.

"Taking sport for example, people may enjoy running together when they are younger, but that may switch to say, tennis as they grow older. Some people may share a passion for art or going to the theatre.

"It's really all about spending time together and doing something that allows you to be lively or creative together."

Despite saying that having a shared interest can help nurture love, Abse is also keen to stress that it is not essential. She says: "Having a shared passion makes things easier, but there are some couples who prefer to have their own interests, own friends, own activities. Some prefer the separateness, but come together romantically."

She also warns of dangers of one or more in a relationship to obsess about an activity such as running. She says: "I think it's certainly a good thing for people to have exercise embedded as part of a broad, rich varied life.

"It's also important not to become obsessive about one thing, which I think exercise can sometimes become. A relationship should be like a safe harbour, somewhere you can relax and bed down."

However, she recognises that the setting of goals, which many runners tend to do individually or collectively is something which is also healthy for a relationship. She says: "The creation of goals is very important for couples.

"It might be a goal to do a half marathon that year, to have a baby that year or to go on holiday. It can be very enjoyable to look ahead and plan and then there is a great shared sense of achievement when goals are met.

"But you have also got to able to deal with things together when they don't go according to plan. Life is like that. So, if you hurt your ankle and can't do that race you were planning, it's important that you are able to deal with it together."