How to Train With Your Spouse — And Strengthen Your Marriage

© Dmitriy Shironosov |

© Dmitriy Shironosov |

A few years ago, my husband and I met through collegiate running. Throughout the years we’ve been together, we’ve always trained for something. We both ran before we knew each other and after college, we both continued to run.

Whether we train for the same race or different one, we’ve been able to support each other through the process. We are different speeds and have gone back and forth with different goals.

Depending on the circumstances, we’ve trained for the same race goal, but we’ve also trained for different ones too. Whatever the case might be, we both love running, training and racing together.

Exciting and fun… but also overwhelming and scary

Training for a half marathon can be both exciting and fun, but it can also be overwhelming and scary. Training with someone else can give you an excuse to spend more time together. It’s a new level of excitement to share with your partner.

Half marathons are the perfect distance to train for because you can dedicate a couple of hours on the weekends for long runs, but they don’t leave you feeling exhausted during the work week.

Training for a half can be a new fun bonding experience. You can even find a race to travel to and use it as an excuse for a vacation.

Before training, there are a few tips to keep in mind. While you might know your partner extremely well, their running habits can be surprising. There are plenty of things we wish we had known before training for our first half marathon together!

First: Set your own personal goals

Setting your own goals includes your expectations. Do you want to PR? Do you want to finish strong and healthy? Are you a high mileage runner or do you prefer lower mileage?

You have to decide your personal reasons for running the race. If you don’t know your own goals, it will make it much harder to set up goals with your spouse.

Second: Set up guidelines

Setting up guidelines together is one of the most important things you can do for training.  It’s better to limit surprises and get everything out in the open before beginning to train. It seems silly, but make sure you both want to train for a race.

If one person already feels like they are being forced to run, the training and mindset won’t get better!

Important things to consider:

  • Will you do training runs together?
  • Will you stay together during the race?
  • Will you train daily together or run alone?
  • What time of day will you run?
  • Will you listen to music or do you plan to talk? Is silence okay during a run? Believe it or not, my husband and I had a fight mid-run about him not wanting to talk while I blabbered on!
  • Does your spouse want motivation? Some runners thrive on mid-run pep talks while some want you to shut up as soon as possible. It’s best to figure out which style each of you are.

What if my spouse is a different pace?

That doesn’t mean you have to train solo and just meet up after the race.  My husband is significantly faster than I am, but we still manage to run together one to two times per week.

There are many options to still train together

  • Choose an out and back path to run on. That way, you’ll be able to see each other at some point during the run.
  • While a treadmill might not be your favorite option, it does allow both of you to get runs at your respective pace while still running together. Running next to someone on a treadmill makes the time go by faster too.
  • Another option is cycling. One runner can cycle next to the runner and then switch roles. If you still want to log miles together, have one spouse ride their bike as one is running.
  • Plus, one could do their long run on Saturday and the other on Sunday. That is more time to spend training together and cross training is a great addition to any half marathon plan.
  • Another option is going to the track and doing speed work together. That can allow you to do different paces, but still be close by and supportive.

At the end of the day, training for a half marathon is a fun hobby to share. It’s a great way to spend extra time with your significant other while staying fit and healthy too.

Hollie Sick is a New Jersey-based runner and blogger who has completed nearly 30 half marathons. Learn more about Hollie at her blog, or follow her on Twitter.

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