Living with a certified run coach is a double-edged sword. The simple fact that we inhabit the same space (and both love to run) means conversation often revolves around topics like proper run form and the latest in fuel options. It also means I never have to twist an arm to recruit a run partner.
On the other hand, I have a constant critic by my side who gleans a little too much joy from pointing out the fact that my right arm crosses over too far, wasting precious energy (and he inevitably chooses the point of the run when I’m struggling to mention the bad form).
I would love to be able to say every run together is a blissful jaunt, representative of our perfect marriage, but that would be a lie. Running with your significant other, much like marriage, is never perfect. It’s messy and invigorating at the same time and requires careful thought for successful navigation.
As I set out to train for a Spring marathon this season, with my husband by my side, I observed the things that helped us run happy (and those that fueled an exchange of heated words), to share my top five tips to survive and thrive in married running:
-Communication is key. It’s important to understand each other’s goals for each run. Early in our dual training, I set out for an easy run while my husband envisioned a speed testing tempo run. Unspoken and mismatched goals led to one of us irritated over mid-run compromise. Talking about our intentions before a run helped us make better decisions to ultimately fulfill our training missions.
-Set out solo from time to time. It can be incredibly motivating to run with my husband, but it’s also nice to realize my own strength. Carving out time to run alone helped me develop my ability to internally push myself, which led to increased self-confidence.
-Be flexible. I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this one, but I found relaxing my rigid ways led to my best running. I like to have a set course for a training run, while my husband likes to “wing it.” His last minute turns and twists on a path typically set my mind on fire. Learning to go with the flow was difficult, but I was able to explore new places and eventually run faster because I was no longer fixated on my pace, the distance, and my energy exertion.
-Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Pushing a run partner to train hard requires a keen sense of knowing when to encourage and when to back down. Admittedly, my husband and I struggled the most with this one, but did eventually learn to read the other person to plan the best response.
-Be each other’s #1 fan. There were training runs during this season where we fumbled our way through and split up mid-run because we hadn’t quite mastered tip #4; however we never waivered on our support for each other. Hard feelings were softened when I saw my husband running towards me (he’s faster than me, but don’t tell him I admitted it!) with his hand outstretched to give me five while telling me, ”Good job.” Knowing that someone you love believes in your ability can rejuvenate tired legs. Don’t be stingy with encouragement of each other – it goes a long way on course and off.
Though training together requires deliberate practice, running and marriage can coexist in a happy union.