When I was training for my ultra-trail, my husband accompanied me on most of my long runs as he was to pace me at the race. It was on one of these runs where things went pear-shaped… We were running past Ping Pong Shopping Mall in Tshweneng, heading towards the Railway Line, when it all exploded. At first, I tried to outrun my husband. I say “outrun” but bear in mind my sprint is a recovery run to him! But I thought that me picking up the pace would be a clear sign that I no longer wanted him to run with me. Clearly not. He stuck with me as I maintained a stony silence. But then his very presence became extremely annoying. We ran past the car washes and outdoor hair salons along that road. The workers were already setting up shop for the day and if they listened closely, they would have heard me say, “LEAVE. MY. RUN. AT. ONCE!” He hesitated and later said he wasn’t quite sure whether this was a test. But hearing the sternness in my tone, he left. And that is how I kicked my husband off my long run!
So is it worth running with your spouse or partner? What are some of the benefits? What are the pitfalls? And more importantly, how can you avoid kicking your spouse off your long run?
The Benefits of Running With Your Partner
Exploring Different Places: There are many places I’m comfortable running alone in the city, taking the necessary precautions that sadly come with being a female runner. But there are also places I’d only ever feel comfortable running with my husband – the train station, bus rank, some of the industrial areas, to name a few. Running with my husband allows me to venture into all the diverse areas that define our city. I get to experience chaotic hives bustling with activity as well as explore the quiet and isolated trails in and around the city’s perimeters.
Having A Personal Photographer: As a runner blogger, taking photos on the run plays a huge role in the whole process. I’m good at spotting opportunities for a photo but lack the skill that other runners have of actually taking the photo on my own. So running with my husband gives me lots of opportunities to take fun and creative photos that I otherwise wouldn’t get. He’s always patient and ready to try different angles until we feel we’ve got the perfect shot.
Engaging in Deep Discussions: We’ve had such awesome conversations on the run. Ditiro and I are similar in many ways BUT we have such varied interests. So not only do we get to discuss our common interests – the kids, work challenges or our hopes/dreams but running with him always gives me the opportunity to learn about things I know very little about. After all our long runs this year, I could write a blog about the history of space exploration! Ha! When you’re working and parenting, sometimes setting aside time for these varied discussions is not easy. Running has been a great way for us to nurture this side of our relationship.
The Pitfalls And How You Can Avoid Them
Accommodating Different Paces: I think for most spouses, there is a stronger runner. That’s certainly the case for us. Ditiro is at least 2.5 minutes faster per km than I am so we usually follow my pace meaning he has to adapt to a much slower pace. When we are on a long run this means he needs several toilet stops, something he never has to do when alone. I must give him full credit though – he has never complained about the pace although it is something I feel guilty about. Our Solution? We don’t run together every weekend. Unless we are running in an area I’m not comfortable alone, we usually start together and then go our separate ways. If I have a specific place I’d like a photo taken, we will arrange when to meet during the run. If we are sticking together for the whole run, I sometimes change it up with some faster intervals.
Dealing With Historical Arguments: Just last week, my husband and I celebrated 18 years since we started dating! We’ve been friends for even longer so let’s just say we’ve accumulated a lot of data between us! And with my very strong memory, if we have an argument, I can bring up every single argument we’ve ever had that is remotely linked to the current one we are having! And for some reason running enhances my ability to fine-tune and collate my thoughts. But I’ve noticed something. These arguments never happen when we are fresh and starting our run. The trigger is usually the 15/16km point when I’ve had enough of the run! Our Solution? When you start feeling tired and irritable, switch on your music or podcast, and zone out! Now is not the time to start any discussion that begins with “Why do you always…” or “I don’t get why you…?
Navigating Different Emotional Needs: So when I run with my girlfriends – this is never an issue. When it comes to emotional topics, we are always on the same wavelength. We know when and how to listen. We get each other’s emotional needs a lot quicker and respond accordingly. In my husband’s words, “sometimes guys are caught off guard as to the purpose of a discussion. Our default is wanting to solve the problem only to find you don’t want a solution but rather someone to empathize.” Spot on! We’re not always looking for Olivia Pope, just someone to hear us out! And my girlfriends always know how to meet this emotional need and vice versa. Guys are sometimes clueless which quickly escalates to the “You never listen” conversation. Our Solution: Pick the right person for the job! If you need an empathetic ear for a particular conversation, find the friend who gives you that. Or if you want that specific discussion with your husband, save it for later and not when you’re exhausted on a 20K run!
Not all spouses run and I’m so grateful mine does! We have seen and experienced so much on our runs – laughter and tears, downpours and the scorching sun, rolling hills and valleys, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so many gorgeous views as well as the more mundane. But there have been those moments where we’ve tested each others’ patience and now know when it’s best to press play on those music devices! If you run with your spouse or partner, please share your experience! I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic. And I’m curious… have you ever kicked your spouse off your run… or at least wanted to?!
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.