look how in sync they are! could they be in that 6%?
photo: omoo | Flickr

love and running: can it work?

It’s a common occurrence: my husband and I are having a nice weekend with plenty of rest and relaxation. We decide to go for a run together, as it’s always nice to exercise with your best friend. We lace up, warm up, and get going…but it almost never goes the way we assume it will go. Phrases like “You go ahead!” or “If you want to pick up the pace, by all means, go!” or “I’m fine, I’ll meet you at home!” or, the most frequent phrase to come from my lips, “I can tell you aren’t getting enough of a workout, I’m dragging you down, obviously!” A perfectly normal run turns into some sort of mild conflict, and very often we finish the course with the question “Why do we continue to think running together is a good idea?For some reason it is easy to share a love for running with your partner, but hard to share an actual run with your partner. Why is that?

running as a couple, partner running, running with your spouse, running with a partner

look how in sync they are! could they be in that 6%?
photo: omoo | Flickr

Runner’s World magazine published a great article about just that–running with your partner. Ladies and gents, this article is spot on. In a poll they conducted, 58% of runners said they never run or train with their partner; 26% train and run the same races, but run at their own paces; and only 6% train and run together with the same pace. There’s got to be a reason why 94% would opt out of pacing (or racing) with their partner! The article mentioned that the competition-induced brain chemistry in men versus women–testosterone versus oxytocin–causes men to compete with more ambition. Women, on the other hand, compete with the idea of collaboration and trust–not exactly the same motivation to beat out your competitor. This can cause issues during a partner run because the woman may just want a friend to talk to, while the man might want to beat a personal record. Sound familiar?

Then there is the issue of pacing the couple. Men and women aren’t exactly built the same way–a 6-foot tall man is not going to run the same pace as a 5-foot-2-inch tall woman. Due to the issues in height and body composition, it is quite often that the woman, nurturing and harmonious as she is, will feel as if her pace is holding her partner back. I suffer from this all the time! I may be sweating and panting, but I’ll look over at my husband and he will be cool as a cucumber. That immediately opens up some hostile emotions, and I ultimately get frustrated with myself, wondering why I’m not improving as quickly as I wish (or thought) I would. Runner’s World suggests that before you go out for the run with your partner, decide what you’re accomplishing with it. Slow and steady to talk it out with each other? Fast and intense to get your heart pumping? If you opt for the latter, perhaps you could come up with a route where the faster partner could split off for a bit and meet up later on in the run. You then get together time and solo time to chat, reflect, and work on your personal fitness. My husband and I have days where we choose to chat and days where we use headphones and tune out to music. This usually sets the tone for the run: chats mean a more relaxed pace, music means focus on the workout.

With him graduating and starting a new job soon, our time together will be drastically cut, so we may have to resort to more partner runs in order to fit in exercise and quality conversation time. I am definitely going to choose my words wisely, be considerate, and enjoy the time we spend running together. I will obviously report back on how our partner runs progress. Perhaps we’ll join that 6% and actually run a race together! A girl can dream…

Do any of you run with your partner? Do you ever find yourselves in conflict? How do you jump that hurdle and find harmony?

photo credit: omoo | Flickr