Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Running with your other half without wrecking your relationship

I suspect hubby and I are just a little unusual in that, until his marathon adventure in July, we had almost always run together. He is 5'11, 155 pounds and built like a racing snake (as the fabulous Terry Wogan likes to say). I am shorter, slower, and have never held a pace faster than 10 minute miles for any real distance. However, our weekend morning runs were pleasant quality time together, with much marital conversation. I also suspected that without him to prod me out of bed, I would snuggle into the pillow for an extra hour every time.

One of my biggest concerns, therefore, about his marathon training, would be that he'd get too fast for me and would not want to run with me any more. Happily this never transpired, although I do worry I'm now holding him back from getting speedier. Here are some alternatives we tried that might work for you. For ease I'll call us Slower Spouse and Speedy Spouse. "He and she", "he and he", "she and she" are clearly interchangeable, depending on your situation.
  • Slower Spouse can join Speedy Spouse for the shorter of two weekend runs. For example, Speedy can do a long, serious, pace run on Saturday, then on Sunday he'll just be looking to rack up some extra miles at an easy pace.
  • Speedy can leave the house and do a 6 mile (ish) lap, then come back and pick up Slower for a second loop around.
  • Light ankle weights can add a bit of challenge for Speedy.
  • Part way through your run, find an extra loop that Speedy can do. This is a great opportunity for Slower to slacken the pace or even enjoy a walk, until Speedy catches up again.
  • Consider signing up for different distances in the same event. At the Big Basin Trail Run, Speedy registered for 25km and Slower joined the 15km. We did the first part together.
  • Slower could always resort to riding a bike. So far, I've only used this option when I've been sick, but it's nice to know it's available.
On race days, I recommend having the conversation in advance about whether you're absolutely planning to run together, or whether Speedy will forge ahead (and under what circumstances). It wastes too much breath during the race to have a conversation like this:

"Go if you want to".... "No, it's fine"
"I know I'm too slow for you".... "It's OK, I'm still warming up"
"I can't go any faster".... "You went faster than this last week"
"Are you sure this isn't too slow?"... "Well, maybe you are a bit"

Photo thanks: Adam Kurzok

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