Hitting the trail separately together

That iCouple on wooded trails not a typo in the headline. We often set out on a trail separately, but we do it together. Jessi and I have similar interests in that we love being outdoors. Both of us equally have a shared focus on “getting away” whenever we can. Our hobbies don’t always match, but they do overlap and we have found our way in making the most of that.

Woman running in fieldJessi runs trails a lot. I hike trails whenever I can. She enjoys staying up late in a dark-sky area to watch the stars. I wake up early to appreciate the sights and sounds of a new day. It might sound more like an opposites attract situation. Perhaps that’s true in some ways, but it’s more accurate to say we balance things out by supporting each other.

Jessi took up running a few years ago and this year switched explicitly to running trails. She ran her first trail raceĀ in zero-degree weather. She built up her stamina in longer and longer races, including one down farm trails and past oxen. And a few weeks ago, she completed her first trail marathon, (actually her first marathon ever) running 26.2 miles through a northern Michigan recreation area.

Jessi also enjoys hiking as much as I do. But her first devotion is running, especially this year when she was training for her trail marathon. I take advantage of her need to be near a more extensive trail system by plotting out hiking excursions. I’ll head out with my Montem hiking poles, some camera gear, and sometimes our DJI Spark drone. Sure, it helps to provide exercise. But it’s mostly about the calm that comes over me as the stress of daily life gets absorbed into the trail with each step I take.

Couple with van in snowy parking lotHaving a Class B RV helps with the logistics. Our Roadtrek 190 Popular 4×4 offers us a place to sleep, eat, clean up, and relax in between runs and hikes. And its smaller size allows us to find off-the-beaten-path locations where we can reconnect, sometimes with ourselves and sometimes with each other.

Our hobbies are different, but our base interests tend to be the same. What we have found over time is that we don’t have to sacrifice, just compromise. Yes, we’re sometimes spending time apart when doing our style of outdoor activity. But we start the day together in some beautiful locations. And we end the day sharing tales of what we saw and experienced “out there.”

We have learned some things along the way. Here are the top 5:

  1. Be flexible. That’s not just to avoid physical injury on the trail. To avoid hurt feelings, you need to talk to each other about expectations for the trip. How long of a run is Jessi doing? I need to know that so I can plan my hiking distance accordingly. I also need to know when I should be concerned for her safety if she hasn’t returned. (We have used various methods to keep track of her location on a trail, including the Find iPhone app.)
  2. Be courteous. If Jessi is staying up late to stargaze, she does her best not to wake me up once I’ve gone to bed. And in the morning, when I pop awake with the sun, I try to be quiet when starting my day so she can sleep in a little. It’s not perfect — we’re living in a 20-foot van on those weekends — but it’s good enough.
  3. Share. Talk about what you saw — the animals, the conditions of the trail, the sights and sounds. Show your pictures or videos and look at theirs. It will often prompt a memory of something you were going to tell your partner when you got back but then forgot.
  4. Be supportive. Our hobbies overlap but are different. Jessi has the advantage of enjoying running and hiking. I don’t run, and I don’t always understand her desire to. But I appreciate that desire and am supportive by finding ways to keep busy while she’s gone rather than complaining about it. And because I hike slower than she runs, if we’re sharing a trail, she’ll often end up being done before I am. She finds ways to keep busy until I return rather than expecting me to be sitting and waiting for her.
  5. Never share your receipts. OK, this one is kind of an inside joke, so let me explain. Running is an expensive “free” hobby. The shoes, the clothes, the race entry fees — it all adds up. But so is hiking, another “free” hobby that I find more enjoyable because I have the right shoes and hiking poles. Plus the cameras and gear I need to shoot the pictures and videos I want to capture aren’t cheap. So Jessi doesn’t gripe when another box shows up from Amazon. And I don’t complain when another package shows up from Skirt Sports. (If you want some Skirt Sports gear, Jessi is an ambassador. There is more information and a discount code available on our Resources page.) We may start to question the expense, but a quick comparison of who got the latest package usually shuts that conversation down quickly. And even though it may sound like a problem, it’s just friendly razzing that we never take too seriously.

What about you and your significant other? Do you have hobbies that aren’t the same but overlap somehow? Have you found a way to enjoy your hobbies together? We’d like to hear what you’ve learned about hitting your trails separately together. Or are you struggling to figure out how to have your interests complement one another? Let us know — we might have some ideas on how to navigate that terrain, as well.

Profile of hiker with mountains

Female runner crossing finish line

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