From the August 2012 issue of Runner’s World
Proving there’s room for two runners in a healthy relationship, this couple trains together (sometimes), share their triumphs and help each other outrun the tough times
By Meghann Birks
It wasn’t quite love at first run, but it didn’t take long. Five years ago, Jeffrey and Heidi Hunt started running for the same athletic club, the Randwick Botany Harriers while training for the 2007 Sydney Marathon. “We were doing laps of Centennial Park, going in opposite directions, and used to say “Hi” to each other,” says Heidi. It took a couple of meetings, though, before they really clicked but eventually they did and the couple married on October 31, 2010.
Running remains central to their life with Jeff securing a spot on the 2012 Olympic team and Heidi focusing on rebuilding her base fitness after having to take time off from running. After several successful 10ks and half marathons, Heidi was focused on her training before illness and injury (plantar fasciitis and a bone spur) took her off the track.
“It’s been three years now where I haven’t really been pain free,” she says. “I’ve stayed active by cycling and swimming, and running when I can, but it’s been very hard. I stay positive both for my sake and for Jeff’s, because I know he needs my support, but there are times when it’s hard not to feel resentful when he heads out for a run.”
Jeff understands her frustration but is very clear that he can’t let it get to him. “To compete at an elite level, you have to be a little bit self-absorbed. I have to try to block out everything that’s happening around me and focus on my training.”
Do they run together?
“Sometimes,” says Jeff. “We have pretty different paces and goals for each run, so we don’t run together all the time. I don’t do well in the mornings, so Heidi’s pace in the early hours is a bit faster than mine. Saturday afternoons we sometimes run together because that run happens at a pace that feels good for both of us.”
Their running philosophies also differ slightly. “I run because I’m good at it but it’s not life or death to me. I’m pretty relaxed, but I do take it seriously” says Jeff, while Heidi “runs because I always have”, and admits that she tends to “get stressed over small races and things”. When asked how he copes with her anxiety, they both laugh. “I ignore it,” says Jeff. “I just give her the space to do what she needs to do.”
How they make it work: PLANNING
With Jeff clocking between 16 and 18 hours of training per week, with a weekly mileage of up to 180 kilometres and Heidi training eight to 10 hours, things can get a little hectic. The answer? “Being super organised,” they both respond emphatically.
“We have to stay on top of everything. All the details of the week ahead – food, clothes, shopping, bills, car – get sorted ahead of time along with who’s doing what and by when.” Nutrition is critical and meal prep is done ahead of time so that there are always healthy meal options ready when they get home late. “We are both very committed to this lifestyle, so it makes it easier. We spend the weekend catching up with each other, doing the shopping, organising our week. We don’t go out a lot, but we’re both okay with that,” says Jeff. Heidi agrees, “The fact that we are both runners means that we understand the commitment required.”
Heidi Hunt, 36
Jeffrey Hunt, 29
Heidi is a chiropractic assistant and massage therapist
Jeffrey is a computer engineer
Married since 2010
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