• Your SO & OCR: Why You Need To Introduce The Love Of Your Life To The Love Of Your Life

 

Written By: Katie Purcell

 

Introduction

Obstacle Course Racing: it's one of the great loves in our lives. It's in our minds. In our hearts. Coursing through our veins. As all-encompassing as it is exhilarating, some of us plan our LIVES around our training and race schedule. And what could be better?

The topic for today is...you guessed it...relationships. Some of us find the sport of OCR while we are already in a happy, stable relationship (Note: Tips for dating in the OCR world to be covered in a future article!) and both partners jump in 100%. And that's great...what a fun lifestyle to share with your SO (i.e., significant other)! But other times it's not so straightforward. Maybe one partner falls in love with OCR, and the other isn't really sure whether or not they want to try it. Or maybe you have found that special someone after you became a bona fide #OCRaddict, and they are completely unfamiliar with obstacle course racing.

What then? Is it really necessary to introduce your special someone to OCR? Just because it's something that you love, does that mean they have to love it too, or that they have to spend time doing it or show up to events to support you? Can't you both just have separate hobbies...isn't it good to have interests that are different from your partner, and healthy for a relationship for you to spend time apart sometimes?

...Yes and no, and absolutely. It's totally healthy (and even encouraged) for couples to have different hobbies/interests that they explore independently from their partner. Because you're different people, with different interests, and some of the characteristics that make you complimentary are also what could attract you to want to pursue differing interests. BUT with a hobby like OCR that is so involved and requires so much time/effort, it becomes much more important to at least introduce your SO to the thing that takes up so much of your energy. It will give them an insight into your perspective of what makes it so important to you, which also gives them insight into you and how you view the world: this ultimately strengthens the relationship overall whether or not they decide that they want to get really into obstacle course racing as well. Finally, it can help bring into sharp focus some of the differences between you which could cause problems down the road: including how you both want to spend your time, money, and where your priorities as a couple lie.

 ...Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons why, even if you're not trying to get your SO to drink the proverbial kool-aid (or did someone say FitAid?), it's a good idea to expose them to our world and give them some insight into what about OCR makes it so important to so many people.

 

 

1. You (Probably) Spend A LOT Of Money On It.

Now before you protest - because I know we all love to rationalize our OCR spending - remember that I'm on your side. It's true that there definitely are ways to save money and make the sport more affordable (in fact, we wrote a whole article on it here), but there's a limit to how much penny pinching you can do and if you're the kind of OCR athlete that I'm thinking of, you're going to shell out several hundred dollars at the very least for an OCR season. That might sound insane but think about it, you've got your:

A. Training (even at the cheapest gym)
B. OCR Shoes (anyone who has done one or two races will agree: the mix of unpredictable terrain, mud, and technical obstacles like the rope climb demand quality footwear if you hope to tackle them with any real success)
C. Clothing & Gear (this is an area where you may be able to save if you're not as particular about brands and don't use expensive gear, but still a line item worth mentioning!)
D. Race Entries (depending on the race series and event distance, each race can cost well over $100)
E. Travel To/From Events (including flights or gas, lodging, rental cars, etc.)
F. "Extras" (because let's face it, even the most budget-conscious among us are going to splurge every once in awhile on a really cool venue tee or other swag)

Image result for cartoon running inexpensive hobby

Needless to say: it adds up. Regardless of whether or not you're at the point in your relationship where you share expenses, it's important to be on the same page about what to expect the "OCR Budget" might be...and if it could affect other areas of your shared experiences. For example: if your partner is a foodie who loves checking out the latest and greatest 5-start restaurants, but you are more than happy to stay home eating boxed mac n cheese to be able to afford your race season, that is the kind of thing you both need to know ASAP.

 

 

2. You Spend A Lot Of Time On It.

Similar to the financial aspect, OCR also takes up a lot of your time. As with questions on spending/budgeting money, how you spend/budget your time has implications not only on your day-to-day life but also on how you approach and prioritize future events. If your SO is the person who you anticipate being your "plus one" to important life events like weddings, and someone who you'd like to spend vacation time with, it's important for both of you to be clear on how you spend that time and prioritize: including what things are most important to you vs. what you can negotiate on.

Relationships - including marriages - have literally ended because one person was "all in" on OCR and the other was not. So it's definitely important to show your SO what this activity is that you spend so much time on: even if they don't become huge OCR addicts themselves, having exposure to a live event - and all the physical demands - may help them understand why you need to spend "so much time training" or why it's worth it to you to travel xx hours to get to a race if it's a specific one you have been training for. 

 

 

3. All Your Friends Are There...And They Get You.

Just like meeting your parents gives an SO a look into how you were raised/what you were taught to believe/where you got your weird sense of humor, the people who you form and maintain friendships with can shed valuable insights as well.

Some say that "friends are the family we choose." Unlike the family you happen to be born into or the coworkers you inherit when you start at a new job, our friends are also a vital part of the identity that we are constructing for ourselves, and we chose them. The people we hang out with are, (to an extent), a mirror of our current values/priorities, and an indicator of where we are heading. The attitudes/beliefs we share with each other, conversations we engage in, behaviors we exhibit, and goals we pursue are all part of a circle of influence that shapes what's considered "normal," "desirable," and "undesirable." So, seeing who those people are and learning what they're all about will probably do LOADS to help your SO learn more about you.

Because obstacle course racing is still a relatively *new* sport and not incredibly mainstream as an activity to participate in on a regular basis, OCR athletes are often a minority group "back home" and don't necessarily have many friends locally who also participate in OCR. This creates a huge cultural draw to befriend other OCR athletes who "understand" us and why we have to do that crazy workout carrying a sandbag up and down the stairs a million times, or why we would drive 6 hours to race for 2 hours, or why we skipped our cousin's wedding because it was the same day as xyz race. The bonds formed are tight even when they're between athletes who might not have been friends otherwise, because they share the unique OCR lifestyle.

...If nothing else, it can be helpful to show your SO that you're not the only "crazy one" out there!

 

 

4. It's A Good Bonding Experience.

Introducing your SO to OCR can be a great bonding experience - in more ways than one!

If you run a race together it’s a good bonding experience because completing an event like this encourages you to use teamwork as a couple, to see how you each react/support one another in potentially demanding situations, and to achieve something together that you can be proud of when you have crossed the finish line. The concept of "shared suffering" in OCR bringing people together is nothing new: a 2015 Mud Run Guide article claimed,

"Groups like the Weeple Army, Cornfed Spartans, New England Spahtens, COR, Lone Star Spartans and others have been wildly successful not just because it’s nice to meet people that share a hobby that others think is “weird”, but because deep connections are often formed through shared suffering. Whether it’s helping one another through a Spartan Sprint, running laps together at the World’s Toughest Mudder, or being tied together for a Death Race; these events break down the normal barriers that separate people and provide fertile ground for the deeper human connections that we often lack in other aspects of our lives."

If you both go into it with the right attitude, even if your SO decides it’s not for them and they NEVER want to race again, it will be something you can walk away from feeling proud of what you accomplished together. And making those types of memories based on success are great for building/reinforcing a relationship!

(Note: if one of you is competitive with racing and one of you is not, or if one of you wants to race competitively and the other doesn’t, for these purposes it doesn’t really matter whether or not you actually run together. And if only one of you wants to be competitive, running together is probably not a good idea. The point is just to encourage your non-OCR SO to give it a try if they are open to the idea, because it will give them a much better understanding of what you go through when you race and the kinds of things/situations you encounter. If they don’t want to participate that’s okay too: OCR events have such a unique atmosphere that just walking around a venue and seeing/talking to/meeting other racers will definitely go a long way toward introducing your SO to the OCR life!)

The other reason why introducing your SO to OCR is a good bonding experience is because this type of sharing brings couples closer. When a partner introduces their SO to an aspect of their life that they feel passionate about in a sense it makes them vulnerable. You’re opening up and exposing something you care a lot about, to someone you care a lot about. And that can be scary, and risky, and that's what ultimately makes it so special!

"Being vulnerable in a relationship means allowing your partner to know you fully: your thoughts, feelings, challenges, weaknesses. It can be scary to show those sides to our partners out of fear of being judged." - Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry, LMFT

Sharing a hobby with your partner that is so important to you gives them a more intimate look into your values, worldview, goals, and desires. This is a great thing for a relationship - whether you're just starting out, or rekindling an old flame to keep it going strong! 

 

 

5. It Promotes Trust.

Trust is important in any relationship: and it might be even more important when so many 6-packs are involved. Throw into the mix the amount of time that could be dedicated to traveling to/completing races, and co-ed lodging with other OCR athletes, and even the most self-assured individual might begin to feel wary.

Piggybacking off of the benefits that come from introducing your SO to your friends within the OCR community, is the value of helping them get to know the community-at-large. As mentioned above it is a unique culture with many aspects that are difficult to explain (or may seem downright strange) to outsiders. There probably aren't many other sports out there where people regularly meet up in-person for the first time to split a hotel room, having only known each other via the internet or having been introduced via mutual friends. At an event with up to 10,000 people in attendance, it is not common to leave your bin of supplies out in the open and trust that no one will touch it, or to lose your wallet and have it returned to you hours later with all the cash still inside. We don't typically join a team of complete strangers after one of them hoists us up over a wall, and then become close friends with them over the next few hours. And yet...things like this happen all the time in OCR. In most non-OCR race events if you show up to an event alone you also leave alone, not with a brand-new group of friends who you can't wait to see next weekend.

Many (maybe even most) OCR athletes do not come from a background of having been particular athletic in their lifetime before they found obstacle course racing; further insight into this topic can be found on our blog post here outlining some of the most common aspects that draw people to the sport. As a result the community is even more positive and encouraging, since this is people's new chance at life. These OCR athletes recognize in each other the tenacity to completely turn one's life around, sometimes against many odds, and that makes the friendships formed even stronger.

...And all that is great. Where it can get sticky is when one partner identifies with this group and the other does not: it is crucial to make the non-OCR partner feel like they are welcomed and can be included...if they would like to be. Otherwise, it can sew the seeds of feelings of being excluded...which can grow into feeling bitter when you leave to see your "OCR friends"...which can mutate into jealousy, mistrust, resentment, and a whole host of other toxic issues. Letting your partner in on "your world" - and all it encompasses - reinforces to them that they can trust you implicitly.

*Note: To clarify, it should go without saying that none of the above is meant to endorse/excuse unmitigated jealousy in a relationship, or to suggest that it the responsibility of the "OCR partner" to introduce the "Non-OCR partner" to the sport in order to put their mind at ease or to "prove" they have nothing to hide. This article is also not suggesting that introducing your SO to OCR is necessary in order to create trust: a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect should already exist as it is key to any relationship. If you ever feel like you have to "convince" your partner that you are trustworthy, your relationship has bigger issues than whether or not you both like OCR and you should probably address those ASAP or call it quits while you're ahead.

 

 

6. Last But Not Least...Maybe They'll LOVE It And You'll Have Your Very Own OCR #swolemate!

Because hey...you never know! It can be a ton of fun to have a partner who is as into OCR as you are: instead of having to compromise and work around what works best for each of you, it really can become your lifestyle! And remember that different couples enjoy OCR (or support each other in it) in different ways: some couples love racing together, some both enjoy racing but run with different teams/in different heats, some have only one partner racing and the other prefers to be the pit crew/support team...the combinations are as diverse as the people and relationships themselves. There's no right or wrong way to approach this: the right way is what works for your relationship.

Regardless of whether you actually run the course together or just meet up at the finish line...between the race-cations, training days, mutual friends and more, it can definitely bring a couple together and eradicate possible tension on topics like how much is "appropriate" to spend on race season :) 

 

Conclusion

When all is said and done, who knows how much your partner will be itching for the chance to register for their next race. But even if they’re not - and they’d rather never set foot on a course again or attempt another rope climb - it’s a worthwhile experience for you both to have. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to let them in on this hobby that is SO important to you. Regardless of whether or not it becomes THEIR thing, it’s important to show them that it’s YOUR thing, and why. Hopefully they will understand more/better about what makes you love it, because it will help in the future when you have conversations about races you want to do, or WHY you want to spend xyz amount of money on racing, or what exactly it IS about it that draws you in.

OCR can be (or can become) an all-encompassing lifestyle. It presents itself in MANY ways in MANY different aspects of your life: from how you spend and budget your money, to how you spend and budget your time, to who you want to hang around and how you choose to prioritize in your life. It has a big impact on your life and a big influence on your decisions, which can in turn have HUGE implications for a relationship and anyone who you're choosing to spend your life with.

If you DO come up with differences that seem irreconcilable, (like the 5-star foodie with the mac n cheese partner mentioned above), it doesn't necessarily mean that all is lost or that the relationship isn't worth it. It might just mean you both have to take a step back and look at your priorities, and be open to adjusting/negotiating if you decide that your relationship is worth being flexible. At least you will know, and at least you will have a starting point for the conversation. Many healthy couples have one partner who loves racing and the other who doesn't race at all or attend any events, but is supportive of their partner and encourages them in their endeavors.

Whether you end up becoming the next #OCRpowercouple or not, introducing your SO to a pursuit you feel so passionate about is a crucial step in the relationship and is likely to have an impact on your future together - one way or the other. Hopefully you will come out on the other side knowing more about each other and your SO will be at least a supportive teammate, even if they're only supporting you from the sideline (or from home!)

...Because if they can't...and you both realize that OCR is something that will always cause tension in the relationship...then you know what you need to do.

 

 

Good luck, and happy racing!

  

LIVE FIERCE.

 

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