Why I’ll Never Marry a Runner

Posted by Filed Under: Inspiration & Motivation

in the knowWhen people learn I’m married, they’ll frequently ask if my husband runs too. My usual response: “Thank heavens, no.”

Truth is, there’s only room for one runner in this relationship.

We aren’t an athletically mismatched couple, as The New York Times outlined last week. He’s always taken physical fitness just as seriously as I do. That’s why I never complained about his extra gym hours to remain fit for his U.S. Coast Guard duties. In exchange, he allowed me to stick to whatever training schedule promised a new PR. But I often wondered: Were he also trying to run faster or farther, could he have been as accommodating? After all, weather, jobs and child care dictated when each of us got to do our thing, and his normal routine seemed far more flexible than my chaotic one. I’ve seen dual-runner marriages that manage to make it work; and I’ve witnessed plenty that don’t. Once children are introduced, someone typically must yield to the other’s agenda and hope to catch up later.

Granted, I’ll never be a serious athlete. But there did come a time when I was reminded of how selfish even recreational runners can be.

To the outside world, I was just another mom who entered a lot of regional races, certainly not someone you’d consider “competitive.” But within our house walls, I was a woman on a mission. If a race field was small enough, I wanted to come home with an award. If it was too big for that, shaving 15 seconds off my best time would do. To get there took time—time normally allocated elsewhere. I slept less so I could run more. After work, I’d head to the gym to cross-train, meaning dinner was late if it was my turn to cook. I invested family time plotting race schedules for me and my corporate running team and ignored “No more pasta!” pleas. Despite the occasional financial crunch, I never questioned a new pair of Nikes or $25 5k.

I started traveling to faraway races, with the family in tow. And I’d convinced myself that because I was happy with this life, everyone around me must be too. Such devotion and determination made me an ideal role model, or so I thought. Razor-like reality sliced through that delusion one blustery April morning.

I’d dragged everyone to Washington, D.C., from our home in North Carolina so I could again try to best my time at the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. It was very early when we arrived, and very cold. I enthusiastically kissed chilly cheeks before bouncing over to the start. Halfway through the race, it started to pour. Driving rain was soon accompanied by a network of lightning and loud thunder.

Soon as I finished, I searched the scant crowd for my husband, who looked miserable, and two young daughters, sobbing and shivering. In that moment I saw the true sum of all those other races to the people I cared about most. What I’d hoped was fun had become forced support for my ambitions.

Things are different now. My husband’s retired from the military. My daughters are grown. But I still never take for granted the impact my running has on everyone around me.

About Anne

Anne’s been running for so long that when two paths diverge in the woods, not only she does she know to go for the one with the most foreboding weeds, swarms of bees and steep, rocky climbs, but she convinces everyone else to come along. Then, before people are done cursing and nursing insect bites, bloody knees and poison oak outbreaks, she’ll again run — away. She eschews a lot of the newfangled devices that are supposed to make you a better runner because she believes it’s what you put into your body, not on it, that really matters. (Footwear is the exception.) That includes proper nourishment of the mind, which we all know is what really makes the difference on the road…and the trail…and the track. At some point she started to realize that not everyone has run into an Alaskan grizzly bear, been pegged by police as a robber, lost her shorts in a major marathon, rubbed elbows with Olympians, mistaken movie stars for beach bums and watched a wildfire consume her suburb - yes, while she was on a long run. Whether it’s these unique situations, or the universal ones every recreational runner encounters, after she lives it, she loves nothing better than to write about it at Run DMZ.

  1. brent on September 6th at 4:06 am

    nice article!

  2. Jeanne on September 6th at 6:09 am

    I had to wait til my daughter was in college before I could start running … it’s tough with a family.

  3. brit on September 6th at 8:38 am

    I don’t consider myself a competitive runner at all. But I love the challenge of running in organized runs

    I was always hurt when my husband didn’t come to my runs. He would tell me “I spent my whole life being dragged to my dad’s marathons and I’m not doing that as an adult” It meant so much to me though to see him at the end. Or rather it meant something that he wasn’t there.

    I held it against him for awhile and then one day he decided to train for a marathon and it all changed. I was pregnant and dragging our napping toddler from water stop to make sure he was hydrated and alive. I think your spouse can be your biggest support and your best fan.

    Sometimes though the best support you can give your spouse is to stay home with your two babies while she gets her run in.

    funny how things change, I used to be un happy if he wouldn’t come to my runs, now I’m just happy I have a partner in life who understands my need to run and will stay home with our kids.

    And my need to enter in runs for the technical shirt.

  4. air-run on September 6th at 9:25 am

    Very well written. Until I was able to back off on my marathon training my life was on hold with the people I loved.

  5. Dawn - Pink Chick on September 6th at 5:21 pm

    I love running with my friends and I really enjoy running alone. I’ve often wished hubby would join me but for the most part I like that its “my thing”.

    Its great that he’s supportive of my running and he has his own things like golf, soccer and such.

  6. Linda on September 6th at 5:42 pm

    Although I’d love someone to run with I don’t think I’d like it to be my husband. He’s supportive and that’s what I need. Mind you I support him in hi s choice or “hobbies” too.

  7. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on September 6th at 6:01 pm

    If my wife did not run, then I never would have met her. The first time I saw her she was stretching on a park bench and I invited her to join my team’s workout.

  8. Karen in Calgary on September 7th at 5:54 am

    I usually respond with the same answer about my husband’s non-running, but feel a little guilty about it. I would like it if he would find some exercise to help keep him young. I do recognize the balance I must keep between my exercise time and my family, however, and am very grateful that he is there to help with the kids when I am out crazily running around.