Teaching a Non-Runner Hubby to Race!

Before the OSU 4-miler!
Yes you too can turn your non-running husband into a racing machine!

My husband doesn’t like running, and that’s an understatement. He’s that guy who played sports in high school, and to him, running was punishment for not completing a tackle or kicking the soccer ball off-sides. We runners turn this around to mean we’re hardcore: “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.”

Yes, my husband believes that completely:  on a recent 20-degree morning, with ice-covered sidewalks, he thought there was something wrong with my head. Why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily go run in this cold?

Well it just so happens that, given the right frame of mind, a ball-playing non-runner husband might voluntarily go run in the cold.

If your husband isn’t active it might be a lot more difficult, but most men have some experience with sports and a lot of pride.  My guy plays softball, flag football, and basketball in co-ed adult leagues, and I since he’s no couch potato I figured he’d make a semi-decent runner at least.

I convinced him to run a race with me, his loving (CRAZY) runner wife, by playing into his love of another sport.  Back in the beginning of November, I strategically hinted at running the Buckeye 4-miler race together. He is an Ohio State University alum, the race ended on the 50-yard line of the Horseshoe, and the medals were detailed, etched and heavy-duty replicas of the stadium. He really couldn’t say no to this one.

And it could be a fun, bonding experience, right?

Finishing on the 50-yard line together. Something my husband couldn't actually resist.
Finishing on the 50-yard line together. Something my husband couldn’t actually resist.

We started back in the 11-minute mile corral (there were 10,000 runners), and it was windy and cold. Luckily, the strength and conditioning coach for the OSU Buckeye team, Kenny Parker, kept the crowd entertained with his drills and my hubby, huge Buckeye football fan that he is, was eating it up. We regretted starting back that far but being new to racing, one goal he had was to run negative splits and prevent going out too fast. He averaged a 9:30 pace (not too shabby for a non-runner), with a 37:58 finish. I tried to be that supportive wife throughout without being annoying. I let him pick the pace but tried to push him in the middle, once his feet starting feeling like “concrete,” as he put it.

To his surprise, I actually was right–it was a fun bonding experience! He really enjoyed his first race with me!  I think it had something to do with getting two full-sized bottles of wine for finishing, but either way  he voluntarily suggested we run another race on Thanksgiving.

Last year, he cheered for me at the Cleveland Turkey Trot. This year, we decided to have a “Staysgiving” with some friends and he suggested we check out the Flying Feather 4-miler, a local race here in Columbus. It took me about 10 seconds after this conversation to get us all signed up, before he could change his mind.

Before the Flying Feather in our cozy, warm apartment!
In our cozy, warm apartment just before heading out to a chilly race! He pleaded me to just snuggle on the couch instead. No way, mister!

Though he pleaded that we skip it when we woke up to 20 degree weather that morning, the hardcore runner in me (and the fact that we’d already paid 90 bucks) convinced him we’d be fine if we bundled up. We started with the 9:00 milers this time to get moving a little quicker, but I didn’t do the best at pacing and we went out a little too fast. He didn’t achieve the negative splits he wanted, but he did PR by 27 seconds with a 9:23 pace throughout, finishing with a 37:31.

It’s so exciting to me when new runners are just learning their potential and can pretty much PR at every race!  It’s so encouraging to him that he’s beginning to embrace the whole running thing, and I’m super lucky to have a guy that gives anything a shot for me! On the other side of the coin, he once tried to get me to sub at a flag football game this fall, and I refused. Contact sports aren’t for this klutz (just sayin’!)

But with a little encouragement, even your non-runner spouse can be plied out onto the roads for a race or two.  And who knows, if he starts to see those new-runner PRs maybe he’ll even start to get curious about (gasp!) training!

Does your significant other embrace our sport?  If not, how do you compromise on spending your free time?

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. Heck, I’d be so happy if my husband would just walk the dogs a few times a week. And not eat so much crap. The forecast for my race this weekend is snowy & cold & I really want him to come with me cause it’s at night & I’m not real enthusiastic about walking around by myself & I know he doesn’t want to now cause of the forecast.

    But good job getting your hubby out there!

  2. Hah opposite situation! My boyfriebd and I met through run club, and he was asked to join the elite racing team this past summer. His mile time is 5:30 or so, whereas mine hovers around 9/8:30 on a great day. Its great though bc i go to his events, he paces me at mine, and one or both of us usually has a race/run every weekend! Its nice to not only have someone to talk about running with, but its a someone who REALLY knows what theyre talking about and can help me improve 🙂

  3. Sounds like so much fun!!! I am SO lucky that my boyfriend is a runner, too (we actually met through the Hash House Harriers, the running/beer club that Cinnamon is a part of). He’s actually way more hardcore than me… he ran a 50-miler a couple years ago and is just way super duper faster than me (and not just like “oh well of course, he’s a guy” faster… he is definitely in a higher percentile of male runners than I am among women runners!) It’s great because we really encourage each other to run, especially lately when it’s so dark and cold out after work… usually even if one of us is feeling blah, the other can be the motivational force 🙂