A blog by runners. For runners.

Tips for couples who run together


I’m a runner. My husband is an Ironman triathlete. He comes from a cycling background, though, and running is actually his weakest sport. We do a lot of the same races and no matter what the distance – from a 5k to a half marathon – we always finish within a few seconds of each other. Admittedly, he’s usually the one who comes in first.

Everyone knows our running abilities are comparable so we always hear “you two are so lucky that you can train together!” but we rarely ever do. Before having our son, we’d only run together once every few months or so.

Running with your significant gives the phrase “running partner” a whole new meaning. And just like some couples aren’t cut out to work together, some aren’t meant to run together either. My husband and I figured out early on that if we want to keep our marriage strong, we need to log most of our miles individually.

Still, there are times when we have to train together. Now that we have a child, we can’t each spend hours running or biking every weekend – we’d rather spend time as a family. So, we’ve agreed that only one of us can train for a big event at a time. He has a half Ironman next month so he gets the bulk of the training time now – after that, I’ll take over and train for fall races while he steps back. (Here are more tips for balancing running with a family.)

The other compromise is that we run together, with the jogging stroller, more regularly now. These tips have helped us keep the peace:

  • Agree on a workout. Set mileage and pace goals before you head out the door so you have the same expectations. One of the reasons my husband dislikes running with me is because I often add or subtract a mile or two depending on how the run is going, while he likes knowing exactly how long his run will be from the get-go.
  • Set ground rules. Will you talk? Are any topics off-limits? Is it OK to listen to music? If one of you is having a bad day is it OK for the other to go ahead? Will you hold a consistent pace or try to negative split? Making sure you’re on the same page will keep you both happy.
  • Respect your spouse like you would any other running buddy. When I run with friends, I don’t mind if they are having a bad day and we need to slow down or take walk breaks. But if my husband needs to ease up the pace? Oh man, I don’t handle it well. I need to cut him some slack and respect his abilities.
  • Make it fun. Running is fun. Marriage is fun. Don’t take either too seriously. On days we’re both feeling strong, my husband and I run mock 5k races against one another or race the last mile home. It’s always fun to get a little competitive!

I’m happy to report that this approach has been working for us for the past year. Do you run with your significant other? Are there any rules you two follow?

Written by Jen Matz.

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