A blog by runners. For runners.

For couples who can’t run together


By now, it’s no secret that couples who exercise together enjoy a multitude of benefits, including enhanced health, stronger relationships, and even more sex. (Pssst: Here are some great tips for couples looking to log miles together.)

On the surface, it seems like my husband Stephen and I have the perfect setup to enjoy being both husband and wife and running buddies, but it’s so very far from the truth.

Though we have slogged through our fair share of family workouts, running just the two of us rarely, well, works out. Stephen’s easy pace is around 6:30/mile versus my 8:30/mile. Two minutes might as well be an eternity on foot, and the differences only get worse with long runs and harder quality sessions. So, employing the age-old trick of give and take is difficult for us. It usually involves Stephen feeling like he’s taking a leisurely walk while I angrily huff and puff my way through steady 7:30s.

Ultimately on these date-runs, I beg him just leave me so I finish at my apparent “snail’s pace,” I say with the most guilt-inducing tone I can muster. I won’t lie. I deeply envy those couples that can run long runs or races together. Those have that photo finish side-by-side — with huge smiles and hugs. I even sometimes imagine how it would be if the tables were turned and Stephen was the one struggling to keep up.

For us, race day goes something like this: Stephen finishes a half marathon in, say, 1:14:30. He does a full cool down and stretch session, eats a small meal, and changes into dry clothes all before I come into the chute around 1:43:00. We’re just different athletes with unique abilities, so we’ve learned to be realistic about training apart.

For us, it’s more how we support each other off the course as partners and runners.

  • We keep tabs on how training is going. It’s sort of like a debriefing after the week of workouts has completed. We check in and ask “did you get all your workouts in this week?” and “what was your strongest performance” or “where did you struggle?” It’s nice to have someone who gets the sport to bounce off all the ideas and successes and stresses.
  • We give each other time to get in workouts. Since we have a small daughter, we don’t always have this automatic free stretch of time to spend logging miles. So, we have worked out a loose schedule and compromised to allow for equal/fair training and time.
  • We train for the same events. Even if we can’t match stride for stride, we can work toward a common goal event together. That way, our training schedules somewhat meet up so we’re on the same page.
  • We also run different races sometimes. There are times when being out there together, even if we’re apart, is fun. But other times, there’s nothing better than seeing family on the sidelines. So, we train for a lot of the same races, but also toss in a few individual ones where the other partner is there entirely for cheering.
  • We take advantage of off days. We have found that we can work out together when cross-training is involved. So, if we’re heading to the gym to swim laps or swing kettlebells, we soak up these opportunities to get in a sweat session together.

Do you work out with your significant other? If not, how do you support one another in your physical pursuits?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.