Battle of the Spouses


Janet has written 27 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a fitness fanatic who was born to run. I have two amazing sons, live in Wyoming (but I'm planning my escape), and plan to keep getting older without ever getting old.

running love

This pretty much sums it up. Photo credit: Runner’s World Online

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy,” and that seems particularly applicable when it comes to comparing my running with my husband’s. Every time we register for a race, Mr. Comparison sneaks in my window and helps himself to my stash of joy.

I started running almost 10 years before my husband had ever even laced up a pair of running shoes. During our first year of dating he’d ride his bike to the local races and cheer me on, even following me along the course during my first marathon. The next year he decided to try running himself. I remember having to run backwards at times so he could keep up, and the first 5k we ran together was my slowest finish time ever. Later that same year we ran the famous Bolder Boulder 10k, and although he finished behind me, it wasn’t quite as far behind as I thought it would be. I’m pretty sure this is when Mr. Comparison started getting interested in thievery.

In our third year together we ran the Bolder Boulder again. We started together, and our (his) goal was to finish together. I’m not proud of this, but during the race I tried my best to shake him off. Every time I looked over my shoulder, there he was! We crossed the finish line together, and I believe it was Mr. Comparison who handed me my goody bag and beer.

Now my husband is so much faster than me it’s not even funny. We don’t race shorter distance races together anymore (for obvious reasons). When I decided to move up to half marathons he hesitated at first, but was soon running along right beside me. Of course he’s now faster at those too.

Marthon finish with Farley

Big smiles at the finish line of our marathon in 2012. His smile wasn’t nearly as big at mile 21.

The only place I still have him is in the marathon distance, which isn’t exactly a major victory for me. (I’ve only run two, and he’s done one.) During the final miles of the Long Beach Marathon in 2012, I was feeling like dancing and he was dying. If the marathon was my favorite racing distance, I’d be content to let him have the shorter races, but it’s not. I love the shorties! When I try to figure out what happened, I usually console myself by reading articles explaining why testosterone makes men faster than women.

My husband’s theory is that it’s because I’m not willing to suffer as much as he is during a race. Puh-lease! This man can’t stand to be in pain – a headache sends him to the couch for hours!  And when he’s actually sick, no one in the entire world has ever felt as bad. No, I don’t believe it has anything to do with who’s willing to suffer the most.

On the beach

When we’re not racing, we’re quite the happy couple!

Maybe it is the testosterone, or him having more fast-twitch muscle fibers, or…who knows? I suppose I should just get over it and realize he will be forever faster than me, rather than keep hoping he’ll take up cycling or golf. Other than doping his morning coffee with estrogen-laced birth control pills, I think my only viable alternative is to take advantage of having a spouse who understands my shoe shopping addiction, and order a new pair of running shoes!

Does your spouse run? Is he/she faster than you are?

11 Responses to “Battle of the Spouses”

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  1. Erin says:

    My husband and I are going to do a sprint tri together next May. I doubt he will train, and I will train like crazy. But he’s going to beat me. I know it. I told him he can have the swimming and the bike, but he better not beat me in running. I’ve worked too hard for too many years to lose to him!

  2. Meredith says:

    My husband and I do all of our running together with few exceptions. He is much faster than me and has been running off and on since HS (our best 5k times are about 5 minutes apart) but he would not ever run if I wasn’t there telling him it’s time to go out and train! We have run a marathon, 3 half marathons, a handful of 10ks and 5 milers and countless 5ks, and in all but a few of the shorter races we have crossed the finish line together.

    For us, running is a way to spend time together; that said, lately we have been doing more family 5ks with the kids and in those, we have started to take more of an “every man for himself” attitude as we are all at such different levels. It’s good for my husband to see where he really stands every once in a while when he goes all out! I feel badly sometimes when I place in my AG and he is dead last in his because he stayed with me. But he has no interest in pursuing any speed goals for himself because I could not possibly keep up with him at this point, and he has no interest in running without me. I will run up to 3-4 miles alone if I really have to, but I hate it! He really keeps me motivated on the longer runs when I feel like walking or quitting altogether. Our running is definitely a team pursuit and neither one of us would be out there without the other.

  3. Allspice says:

    Erin – It’s just not fair how guys can just get out there and run, and we have to train harder for the same results. Good luck with your tri – you can take him!

    Meredith – It sounds like you and your hubby are a great running team! I agree that it’s good for our speedy husbands to see what they have in the tank without worrying about us. That’s why we don’t run the shorter races together anymore; his pace would kill me and my pace would frustrate him.

  4. Lemongrass says:

    I sometimes wish my husband would run and then I read posts like these. Every now and again, my husband and I will race to the end of the driveway or whatever and he beats me easily every single time. This enrages me since he currently can’t run a mile consistently and I do it every day. Grr. No fair!

  5. Allspice says:

    Lemongrass, I think we should try slipping them a little estrogen. :) It definitely isn’t fair when you train your butt off and he doesn’t. One of my friends trained for her marathon for months, and her hubby ran with her once in awhile. He decided to run it “with” her and ended up beating her time by 30+ minutes.

  6. Gabriella says:

    It’s not just men that are naturally faster! Some women are faster than others. My partner is near-effortlessly so much speedier than me. I train so hard and try so hard, and she goes and runs a PR after not running for 2 weeks.

  7. Allspice says:

    Gabriella – Great point! I guess it isn’t always gender that’s responsible for speed. Do you and your partner race together, or do you each run your own?

  8. I ran my first race over 41 years ago. My wife ran her first race last Saturday.
    I waited a long time for her at the finish.
    We both got up at 5 a.m., we both finished the race, we both had a nice breakfast afterwards and we both had a great time. We both hurt the next day. We both “won.”
    Monday she took her bib number to work.

  9. Allspice says:

    Jack, that’s awesome! Congrats to your wife, and you’re right – finishing is winning.

    • Thank you, Allspice. But let me clarify, as I am “old school”, you win if you try hard, if you do your best. Peggy did that and she is already talking about her next race.

  10. My husband is a swimmer who has incredible cardio-vascular powers and is able to run my speed for short distances. I think if he put time into running, he’d be able to beat me before I care to admit, so I’m kind of glad he’s not interested.

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