With all of the technical gadgets available for monitoring information pertaining to running and exercise, one can get very “scientific” about training and performance. But despite the ability to concisely measure what is happening with your body, equipment can malfunction, and sometimes people perform better when not paying attention to the equipment. For these reasons, it can be helpful to your performance to rely on how you feel in your body, in your heart- “heart rate.” This applies to relationships as well. How does your heart rate the relationship?
I practiced using a new heart rate monitor/GPS device during many training runs over the past months. Race day came and I was sure to have a full battery charge to carry my info monitoring all the way to the finish line through my first ultra of the year, a 50K. Five minutes before the start, I started pushing the usual buttons to get set, and nothing happened. The screen just said flatly, “Battery Life 100%,” the same thing it said when I unplugged it from the charger 2 hours earlier. Nothing was happening. Nothing. All of my preparations in micro managing my run were for naught. Or so I thought.
Rather than be upset about the malfunction, I decided to use the dead screen message as a mantra (mind protection) during the race to focus. “100%,” I’d say to myself when I noticed weariness or other performance detractors. I still wondered about heart rate, heading, elevation, and pace. While I didn’t have the output info on my wrist about my heart rate, I could still detect how I felt. I kept checking in with my body, my energy, and noticing how my muscles felt, and how my mind was thinking. I could feel into my performance, without the monitor, and after observing how I felt in conjunction with the monitor during training, I could guesstimate what was going on even without the monitor. This is the kind of “checking in” that could be helpful to assessing relationships, too.
In relationships, it would be nice if we had a wrist-mounted monitor that told us if we were in the “right” relationship or that monitored performance in terms of energy, workload, and direction. Checking in with your body, energy, and noticing how you think about the relationship can be key to figuring out if you are with a compatible partner. You can take relationship inventories, personality tests, and attempt to measure some aspect of success of your partnership, but maybe just like running performance, you dig the deepest evidence of whether or not you are doing well by monitoring how you really feel “inside,” in the energy of your “heart.”
Let’s look at some ways we can monitor a relationship, like a run:
Battery Life- Energy
Relationships take work, they shouldn’t drain you all the way to nothing, but they definitely take energy from your battery. Are you drained to almost nothing? What charges you up? Are these things you share with your partner? What charges your heart? Your “heart rate monitor” should show fluctuations in charge or energy, but the relationship should help you re-charge rather than “freeze” you.
Heart Rate- Workload
Different tasks during running create various workloads or intensity. Big hills, declines, or running a flat surface may require different energy. If you find you are always working at a maximum intensity with little rest and little energy for other things, always uphill, you might be working too hard in the relationship. If you work and rest, like doing intervals, and feel strong, then maybe your workload is just right, especially if you see your relationship getting stronger as a result of the work. If you are working at a very low intensity, going slow, and are not seeing changes in your relationship that you’d like to see, then maybe you need to work a little harder to get a “fit” relationship. Your “heart rate monitor” can tell you if your workload is optimal, check inside.
If your heading is not clear, then you may be lost. You and your partner should know where you are heading together. You should both be explicit about where you want to go as a team or what you want from the “run” together. If you are heading in very different directions, then it is going to be difficult to stick together. You can go different directions in places along the course or have solo runs at times, but rejoining with your partner is always happening. Your “heart rate monitor” should give you a clear heading. Find out if it matches your partners.
Reading books about the science of making relationships work, mapping out a course of goals, going to counseling, and sitting down for “meetings” with partners about “where are we going” can be helpful ways to assess and develop a relationship. We can attempt to monitor very specifically what is going on in the relationship by checking perceived exertion, getting a “heading,” and maintaining direction. Sometimes, despite all of the assessment instruments, it’s helpful to check “inside.” If you go to that “inside” place of energy in your chest, your own natural heart rate monitor, breathing and being quiet, what do you know about your relationship? Heart rate… How does your heart rate the relationship?
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