Working out and running is an activity that a lot of of us find very sacred and special. So finding tha perfect workout partner isn’t always easy. Our friends at Self share some personal experience with finding that perfect partner while working out.
Like most first dates, platonic or otherwise, my first run with Nancy was scheduled over text. I had one overarching concern: Would we have anything to talk about?
Fortunately, awkward silences were not an issue. One of the many things I love about Nancy Chilton ¡ª my running partner of eight years ¡ª is that holding her tongue is not her forte. Conversation with her is loose and unfiltered. (The fact that I often have to fight to get a word in comes in handy on hills: I don’t have to talk as my lungs power me up an incline.)
We met on a chilly November night at a benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she works as the head of communications for The Costume Institute. I was there on assignment as an arts and culture reporter. We happened to retrieve our coats at the same time, and that’s when we discovered two very important facts: We lived a block apart, and we were both runners. A sane Upper East Sider who loved to run? Jackpot, I thought.
We exchanged texts and planned to rendezvous for loops around the Central Park reservoir. It quickly escalated to three weekly jogs plus a long run every Sunday ¡ª honest effort, no judgments. That Winter we ran together in the snow, her leopard-print fleece mittens (Why, Nancy, why?) warming her hands and some unknown recess of my heart. One morning I showed up with a lumbering gait and a faint 80-proof aroma. She didn’t flinch. And I only halfheartedly shushed her when her salty political declarations got loud enough to startle other runners. I was seeing her more than my friends, romantic companions, and parents ¡ª combined.
I’d never had a workout partner before Nancy. I think that’s because the combination of physical exertion and aesthetic uniformity¡ªspandex, sports bras¡ªmeans every weakness is laid bare. It’s practically as exposing as sex. (And at least that usually takes place in the dark.)
Yet I was immediately at ease with Nancy. It was liberating to not feel any self-consciousness about the sweat beading on my red face as we talked about work and friends and what we’d done the night before. Topics that might otherwise have taken a few sips of wine to emerge flowed as smoothly as the rhythm of our strides.
On one jog, the morning after Nancy and her husband spotted me from afar at a cafe, she asked about the woman I’d been there with. It was just Nancy, being her usual curious self. “Oh, that was my girlfriend,” I replied, casually, with no hesitation. What was normally a fraught conversation about my sexual fluidity came out, so to speak, without premeditation or fanfare. We just kept pace.
Lately we’re more likely to get a drink together than to pound a dirt path. My office is now downtown, so I run earlier in the morning, and my half marathon training leaves little breathing room for banter. (Yes, I’m the high-maintenance one in our relationship.) But we will never stop running: interrupting each other, swearing and tripping over ourselves to tell the juicy stories we’ve saved up to share.
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