Love and Marriage…and Long Distance Running.

On Easter Sunday, I was scheduled to get in a 10 miler. Instead, I did 5 so I could sleep in with my soon-to-be hubby and go to the 11:00 a.m. mass. I don't regret it.
As I count down the final days to my wedding (eek!), I can’t help but wonder whether I can have this guy and my running too.

Long distance relationships are hard, but how about long distance running and relationships? When you’ve got to go out for a 3-hour training run on Sunday and miss quality time at home, how do your loved ones feel? For those of you with a partner at home,  does your training provide your mate with much-needed alone time, or does it put distance between you?  I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting married in three weeks, but lately I’ve been finding myself feeling guilty for having running be such a priority in my day-to-day schedule when I never really worried about it before. Do you ever feel guilty or selfish going out on your daily runs? Is serious training compatible with married life?

I’m a known “people-pleaser,” and have a hard time saying no; but, when it comes to running, I’m very rigid in my routine. If something is going to get in the way of my daily run, I’ll do my best to rearrange everything to make it work. Whether that means a 5 a.m. wake-up or driving separate to a family brunch, chances are I’ll do the run and won’t say no to it. With my upcoming nuptials, I’ve learned this just isn’t going to fly. It’s not all about me and my running.

When I  first started dating my fiance back in 2009, I wasn’t too keen on the give-and-take that a committed relationship meant. I think I’ve grown up to realize that running can’t be at the absolute center of my universe; it’s not realistic for what I want out of life. Now don’t get me wrong, I still take my running and training quite seriously, but I’ve become a bit less obsessed and a bit more well-rounded,  and I’m prepared to continue to compromise as I gain two sets of in-laws by next month. I try to put myself in my fiance’s shoes to better understand. He doesn’t run, he thinks of it as a punishment. He can’t imagine why anyone would go on a 3 hour jaunt, just for the fun of it. Why wouldn’t I rather spend time at home or out with him? Because, you see, running is a part of me, as I’m sure it is for many of you. I’m sure if you’re reading this you also feel that a day just isn’t complete without doing it (unless it’s a planned rest day, of course!)

I work full-time, am a part-time doctoral student for a weekend cohort program through Kent State University and train on the side for Brooks Daily Inspire. My fiance works full-time, is a full-time student working on a second degree and plays intramural softball, so we don’t necessarily get much time together. When the weekend rolls around, my scheduled 20-miler isx yet another reason why I can’t cuddle up and eat banana pancakes with my love.

Is it possible to be in a happy relationship with another busy person and be a serious runner?


Banana on Pancake
Sometimes you just gotta be flexible and watch Mad Men with your significant other while enjoying banana pancakes on a Saturday morning. The run can be postponed for a few hours if it means a lot to your partner.

Be flexible. It’s easy when you’re single and childless to get set in your own routines with running. I like to compare it to taking a shower. When you live alone, you can shower whenever you want! When you’re living with another adult, you’ve gotta work on the shower schedule so you both can get to work on time and both have adequate hot water to rinse out that shampoo. Same goes with exercise routines. For example, my sister has a 2 year old. She is able to take her in the running stroller sometimes but other times, her husband takes one for the team and skips a run until later so he can stay with the kiddo. It’s all about compromise and being unselfish.

Run in “fun” races together. My fiance and I do the races that involve gimmicks and obstacles, especially the ones that end with a post-race celebration or beer. I certainly can trick him into thinking racing can be fun! We ran two Color Runs together last summer and had a blast. Key word here: compromise! Try to involve your significant other in your love of running. Who knows, maybe they’ll get addicted too! But keep your expectations in check.

My other half and me after the Color Run!

Do the little day-to-day things that just show you care. A smiley face text or a quick “i love you”; a hug before hitting the trails or a smooch afterwards. The little things that remind each other how much we care can make all the difference! This can be applied to any relationship where running can cause time away.

Make Time. If you have time for running, chances are you have time to nurture your relationships. We try to have one evening that is just for us. Whether it be a movie night, a quick happy hour, or just lounging on the couch with our Weimareiner watching Bob’s Burgers or the Simpsons, we make sure we keep each other a priority!

Support each other in our varying athletic preferences. I go to his mid-summer softball games and roast in the sun without anyone but testosterone-ridden fans surrounding me. He comes to my fall half marathons and freezes to death for THREE hours when it’s all said and done. We make it a point to be there for each other and show how much we care, regardless of the irritations that come along with being a spectator. We are each other’s #1 fans!

Since being with my fiance, I haven’t trained for anything longer than a 1/2 marathon, so it hasn’t been as extreme of a situation for us. Back in 2007 and 2008, my 3 hour training runs were frequent and may have posed more of a problem. Right now, I can’t imagine training for a 100-miler or anything of the sort, but I’d love to hear how you other ladies deal with this. Is it possible to get it all in while not feeling like you’re neglecting someone? How do you make it all work?

I'm a new momma, full-time non-profiter, and coffee lover. I write about healthy body image, half marathon training, and recovery from eating disorders. I'm currently training to maintain fitness throughout the winter and break 1:27:00 in my next half marathon.

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  1. I was just dealing with this last weekend on a 15-miler, which should have been enjoyable as the sun was shining and the weather was finally in the 40s in Columbus. I met my wonderful boyfriend mid-marathon training. I’m a single mother, and I need my weekend long runs for my sanity if not for a required training distance. My guy is a saint, as he willingly offers to watch my 3-yr-old as I run, but I still have this horrible feeling of guilt when I’m pounding the pavement in addition to the longing to be cuddled up on the couch with my two guys. How do I juggle the love of running and the love I’ve finally found at home? I’m planning on dialing back my running/training once I’ve completed my first 26.2 in May and start doing team sports with my guy like beach volleyball. I’ve also signed us both up for a fun obstacle race in July. I can’t see myself not toeing the line for future half-marathons or even other 26.2s in the future, but I look at this problem as a wonderful blessing to have instead of an obstacle. I’m so happy for you, Meggie. Congratulations on your impending wedding! Go team Determination!

    1. Courtney! I love that you coined this balancing act as “a wonderful blessing” rather than an obstacle…totally a “half-cup full” type of perspective, and I love it! It’s great to hear that your boy is cool with watching the little one while you get in your training; it sounds like he’s a keeper, and it almost might be a perfect little bonding time for just the two of them! I know you’ll do other 13.1 and 26.2s in the future; you’re too good and too much of a natural runner not to…sounds like the man will be supportive of it, too! Best of luck at the Flying Pig!!! I want to hear all about it.

  2. I just got married last summer and I know how challenging it can be to balance your relationship and running. I think two things make it work for us. One is that I’ve been really clear about my goals and where I want to go with my running and how right now it’s a priority for me (not the top priority but definitely top 3). My husband is very supportive of this and does a lot to make it possible. The other thing that works is integrating him into my running. If I have an easy run, we run together a lot, he also helps push me with my strength training. I also check in with him a lot about how he feels about my running and the time it takes to make sure it’s not becoming too much. It’s a constant balancing act but totally worth it.

  3. Great post! When my husband and I were dating and married before kids we really had no issues with running. If we had any, it was more because of my husband’s running early in the relationship when he was running 100+ mile weeks and I didn’t understand why he couldn’t do everything I wanted to do! When I started training too, we used to run after work. We’d hit the park on the way home from work and he’d go one way and I’d go the other. Sometimes on the ride home from work we’d get into some serious discussion and end up skipping our runs to hash something out, otherwise we were completely cool with our respective running needs.

    But now with 3 kids it’s a whole new ballgame. My husband has more or less scrapped his running in favor of a new hobby. He’d really like to be able to do both and sometimes he resents the fact that I “have time” to get my running in. But ultimately, we both know that my running is all my me-time wrapped up in one activity (social, relaxation, exercise, solitude etc.) That being said, I make every effort to support the time needs of his hobby and support him and I try to include the kids in running when I can. I also often have to skip group runs or running in an ideal location in favor of the treadmill in my basement, heading out my front door or going to the park 5 minutes from my house to save time.

    1. Hi Salty. Running is my “me time,” too, and it’s my sanity/stress reliever. I think it would almost pose more of a problem if I couldn’t do it on a regular basis…because it makes me a better, happier person, in general, which in turn is a positive for our relationship.

  4. Hi Meggie! I am also planning a wedding and training for ultras- a 40 mi in two weeks and a 50 mile the week before my wedding in July!

    My fiancé is an ironman triathlete, and recently converted to running ultras, so we end up spending our Saturdays completing 4, 5- hour runs. Good quality time! He sees every shade and every up and down!

    An article came to mind when I read your post-
    It certainly relates. I think as long as you remain flexible and supportive, like you said, then you’re golden 🙂

    To think- we ran our first race in 7th grade together and now we are both marathoner/ultra runners and getting married the same year! Congrats and have fun!

    1. Johanna,
      First, CONGRATS on the engagement. Second, I think you’re nuts doing a 50 miler the week before your wedding..haha! I wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle! Sounds like your fiance is similar in his running routines – do you ever become competitive with each other on training runs?! Thanks for the link to that article – definitely some crazy points made within it – I never would have thought exercise could actually increase divorce rates ( I know it’s an extremist example).

      I miss the good ole’ days of Perry and Kirtland Middle Schools!!! So much fun 🙂

  5. This post really hits home for me. I think for me what makes it complicated is not so much the being in a relationship (would it sound selfish if I said I would just say “this is what I’m doing…”). But we have kids and my partner is a stay-at-home-mom/homeschooler. She needs her downtime. I think that every moment I am not around is hard on her or so it seems some days. Because she works a few evenings a week, it’s not an option for me to head out for a run those evenings. And because she works a few evenings a week, I’m much more used to putting the kids to bed so she gets very frustrated if she has to do it without me.

    Generally, I’ve tried to make sure that my workouts never take time from her in any way. I set an alarm most days for 5:00 and either come to work early and run at lunch or run in the dark. Some days that is exactly what she wants but other days she says that she can’t see why I should ever get up at 5:00 and that I should work out in the evenings.

    I guess the bottom line is that I have to 1. discuss my workout schedule with her to ensure that it works for both of us and put it on the shared calendar. 2. Be flexible. 3. Be willing to sacrifice my sleep or football watching or whatever so that I fit in my workout.

    1. Hi Debra,
      Sounds like you are a very willing, flexible person, able to accommodate others’ needs to ensure a great relationship.

      1. Thanks, Ginkgo.

        One other thing I didn’t mention is that I try to get her to schedule her thing as well. So let’s say I’ve got a 12 mile LSR and we discuss my heading out at 7:00 Saturday morning. I point out that I’ll be back by 10:00 and that leaves the rest of the day open (providing no kid birthday parties etc.) so does she want to go for a walk or hike as a family or she can go to a movie or shopping or whatever. Most of the time she will say “no I just want the entire family together” but sometimes she says yes and heads out for her activity.

        I do the same thing in the evening like if I come home and start cooking dinner maybe she can go for a walk and when she gets back she can put the food in the oven and feed the kids while I go run or vice versa.

  6. I am fortunate that my hubby understands training since he is a long distance runner and was previously competitive in triathlons. He is very supportive of my long training days, and some of those ironman days get to be 8 hours! But, it is tough to balance training, work, quality time and a little puppy. We just always make sure to communicate throughout the week to make sure we know each other’s plans. We have also designated 2 days during the week where we make sure to have dinner together. It may be leftovers, or something quick, but it’s more about spending time together.

    I also think it’s important to be flexible, like you said. Sometimes, it means getting up early to get in the workout, or it may mean cutting that easy run 1 mile short so that I can take out the dog while he does his longer run. I think the bottom line is that communication is absolutely essential to keep the relationship healthy and strong.

    I also love the idea of trying to do things together, like the fun runs you guys do. In the wi terms, we’ll both ride next to each other on our trainers. My hubby is way too fast of a runner, but when I am doing bricks, he’ll run with me after he does his workout. For him, it’s a few easy miles to cool down, but for me, it’s motivation to keep going.

    It’s also important to not be selfish. I always try to remember that because I can get caught up in my own work and training. I always need to keep in mind what matters most in my life.

  7. Love this post! It’s been a huge struggle for my boyfriend and I since I made the switch to ultras and he came home from his last deployment. I don’t think he minds it sometimes, but I can’t help but feel selfish and guilty when I spend a rare weekend day off running in the woods for hours. He’s not a runner by any means, so it makes it hard for us to understand each other. It’s a definite learning process and in the end, he’s always at the finish line cheering me on.

  8. Great topic! My ‘other is a runner so it definitely helps (except maybe when he prefers to do one too many midnight runs) but I remember the days when I didn’t date a runner and found that running lost its importance in my own life. I still ran but not competively or even daily. I think what matters is first knowing yourself and then communicating your needs and desires with your ‘other. If they are not a “runner” it’s often harder but it does still work for many couples that I know. Where I do struggle is when you add more people to the mix (i.e. kids). For me personally, I don’t think I could keep up the running I currently do with kids of my own, thus, kids are a not a big desire of mine. Now I know many women (many on here!) who are more than capable of balancing it all together (go you!) but for me, I become so easily overwhelmed when there are more than three things on my plate…unless it’s filled with chocolate chip cookies.

  9. Running became an issue around this time last year between us.
    I did a marathon in November of that year and really loved the training. I wanted to keep up my fitness and continued running as long and as much as possible. I signed up for another half marathon in the beginning of April and beginning of May. By Easter, I was fully engulfed in my training program while at the same time we were undergoing a semi-major kitchen renovation. He tells the story that I basically walked over him on my way out the door to do a 12 mile run when he was on the floor from 9am until our parents got there for Easter at 3 trying to patch a section of floor. That was when he hit his breaking point.

    He told me that he thinks I am addicted to running. That running is the only thing I prioritized. He said it in a kind and caring manner, but I did not take it that way. How dare someone call me ADDICTED to something…something that is so HEALTHY! At the same time we were doing fertility treatments and with that great unknown and frustrating experience (that continues to this day), no one can tell me if I am running too much, eating too little, sleeping too much, sneezing too much, etc. and if that effects my ability to get pregnant…it added a whole other reason to not focus on the running.

    Since then, I have felt angry and stressed about the situation, but it’s getting better over time. We’ve talked about it a bunch of times, both heated and calm discussions. I still run and it continues to be something important to me that he understands. But on the other side, I needed to make more of a commitment to housekeeping and taking care of my home obligations. I still struggle with getting done everything I want to do, which most days includes: packing my lunch, going to work early/on time, getting to the gym, cooking a home cooked meal and eating before 8pm, relaxing on the sofa with my husband. I don’t want to sacrifice any of those things, but it’s a huge stress to get them all accomplished to my satisfaction.

    Anyway, I’m going off topic. My husband is also a runner, but he’s 9 years older than me and starting to feel the effects of being a 40-something. I’m still bouncing around like I’m younger than my 32-year-old self. Half marathons are still exciting for me, but less so for him. He’s not a training plan user, he’s just a naturally good runner (injury free and fast–no fair!!), so he doesn’t like planning out his workouts the way that I do (and naturally he doesn’t get stressed if he misses a day or a key component). It’s all about compromise and understanding the other person and making it work even if it means making sacrifices*. *It’s not so much a “sacrifice” of something when you want to be with the other person, so that’s not a great word…

    As always, communication is key!!

    1. I can relate to a lot of this. I am so notoriously undomestic. I could get away with half-assing the house in lieu of getting a run in before kids, but now with 3 in the house full-time it really does appear that I run instead of clean (which is probably true!) My husband get irritated with it from time to time still – after my first kid we fought about it very very often- but now accepts me and the state of the house. The house would be messy if I spent an extra hour straightening or if I don’t at this stage in our lives and running helps me cope with the demands of staying at home with the kids which are many. Plus, the whole situation improves day-by=day as the kids get older. Thanks for sharing and I wish you luck both in coming to a permanent resolution to the running guilt and the fertility treatments!

  10. Like so many others, I can really relate to this post – but I have a couple of “easy outs” that I am very thankful for, and at least one of those is something those of you with younger kids can look forward to. At least twice a week (during soccer season) my kids have soccer practice for about an hour and a half. They’re older (12 and 13) so I don’t have to loiter at the fields, and there happens to be a couple of really convenient routes close by. I like running while they’re practicing for a couple of reasons – 1.) I’m not asking them to work their butts off while I sit on mine and gossip, and 2.) I think it’s important for them to see me doing what I enjoy and taking time for myself (it helps that it’s something healthy!). My second easy out is that my husband loves to fish. No way no how is he gonna give me grief for disappearing for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, as long as I let him go fishing a couple of times a week! 🙂