Running With Your Partner

This past weekend was the first weekend in I-don’t-know-how-long that I didn’t have a packed training schedule. Man, it was NICE. My husband and I went for a run Saturday morning with both boys – each pushing a stroller.{Review of the BOB Revolution and Ironman strollers coming soon.} It was so much for to do something as a family rather than me out running on my own like is so often the case.  It was an easy, but hilly, 4.45 miles at 8:34 pace.

family run family run2

My husband and I used to run together all the time before we had children. We’ve run in Iraq during deployments, in Central Park and all over NYC when we were dating, in Secaucus during my first pregnancy, all over the world when we’ve gone on vacation (Jamaica, DC, Italy, Malta, Alaska, Portland, Boston) and a whole slew of races in between.

family run7

2009 Boston Marathon

family run6

2011 Knickerbocker 60 (first ultra – husband paced me for the last 8 miles)

family run4

2009 North Face Endurance DC Half Marathon  

But, those runs are few and far between these days.  Between ironman training, work and juggling parenting of two children, finding the time to run together is tough.

Our run on Saturday was an eye opener for me. My husband is naturally faster than I am. WAY faster. He has pushed paced me to multiple race wins, a marathon PR, and my first ultra finish.  But truth be told, he hasn’t had time to run much lately (read: I am hogging all the training time), nor has he run much at all (ever) with a stroller.  So I took off running at what was a comfortable pace for me, not really giving it any thought or thinking about what that pace would feel like for him. He pushed on but wanted to slap me by the time we finished. I realized afterwards how inconsiderate I had been to not take him into account when we ran and I’m thankful that he has no self-esteem issues with his wife giving him a hard run =)

I didn’t think about his current ability nor did we really discuss what the plan was for the run – easy/tempo/fast finish.  The run easily could have ended in hurt feelings and an argument {thankfully it didn’t}.

Running with your significant other can be one of the most enjoyable things you can do together (the couple that runs together, stays together!), but it can also be something that could potentially lead to arguments or hurt feelings if not handled properly.

Below are some things that we’ve learned over the years about running with one other.

Tips for Running with Your Significant Other (SO)

– Level the Playing Field: One of the comments I have heard most often about why running with your SO is out of the question is that he/she is significantly faster than you.  Yes. There are definitely times when there is no real way for two people to run together because the abilities are too varied.  But, just because one person is a bit faster than the other doesn’t mean that a run together is out of the question. There are several things to try:

  • If you have children: Faster runner gets stroller
  • Tempo run for slower runner and Easy run for faster runner
  • Do Speedwork. I think this is the easiest way for two people of differing abilities to run together. Head to a track or find a 1/2 – 1 mile stretch of road that can be used. You won’t be running side-by-side for this workout, but you will both be getting a hard, quality workout in at the same time. My husband and I used to do 800s all the time (despite he being significantly faster than me in short distance) and I found that I loved this running day even though we didn’t run side-by-side.
  • Find the “happy distance”.  My husband would crush me if we ran 3 miles.  I would do the same to him if we ran 20 miles.  We found that the happy medium for us was about 10 miles – long enough distance for him but short enough for me where our abilities seemed to be about the same.

– Decide who will dictate the pace: If it’s an easy run, it probably makes sense for the slower runner to set the pace. I don’t know if there is anything more annoying than running with someone who is one to two steps ahead the whole run. I’ve been in both places before so I know how frustrating it can be on both ends. If it’s going to be a tempo run for the slower runner, having the faster runner set the pace can be beneficial as it forces the slower runner to keep pushing.

– Make it fun: One of our favorite ways to end the run was to race home – we would often start about 1/2 mile away and my husband would give me a little head start. Not only did it make it a fast finish run, but it made it fun and playful while also a bit competitive.

– Lay the ground rules: Do you want to chat? Do you like to push going up hills or maintain the same effort?  Do you like starting slow and gradually speeding up? Will you stay with each other? Having a plan before you head out will minimize any hurt feelings. Neither my husband nor I are chatters when we run – we rarely say a few words to each other.  But, knowing he’s beside me makes me feel comfortable…at home.

–  Know your SO’s current ability: This is what I should have done over the weekend.  In years past, I was the one who always set the pace but due to lack of running by my husband, the pace I set out (with the stroller) was likely a bit too much for him.  Our family run was meant to be fun and easy paced – not a hard workout where the other runner was smoked when it was over.

– Does your SO want support?: I am not a huge fan of cheery, upbeat words when I am hurting.  My husband knows this. Instead, I prefer a few more direct words of support (Keep Pushing, Don’t quit, You got this). This might be discussed or something that is picked up through the years.

Do you run with your significant other?

Any words of wisdom to share?


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    24 thoughts on “Running With Your Partner

    1. magnificent points altogether, you simply received
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    2. I love this! My husband and I don’t talk when we run either. In fact, we ran a whole half marathon (his first!) together without saying more than a few words to each other — but I love his company! The one thing that I wish we would’ve discussed before that race was bathroom breaks. Around mile 4, he had to veer off, and I went with him so we wouldn’t get separated. That break completely got my mind and body off track, and I was kind of frustrated. He felt bad, but we ended up crossing the finish line together like we wanted to, and that 4 minute break was insignificant in the end!
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    3. I love this! My husband and I used to run together, but he has gotten much faster over the past few years that we rarely run together anymore. But I do love the days when it works for both of us and you identified really good “rules” to keep it fun :)

      I also can’t wait for your review of the Bob and am interested to see which model you like better. Also, I’d be interested in whether you recommend two single bobs or the double stroller….

    4. Loved this post! I love to run with my husband!! We run once a week together, more when on vacation, and I push. It’s an understanding that he sets the pace, and it’s my recovery run, either before or after a long run. It’s such a special time for us all . Love it!

    5. So glad you got out together–nice when that can happen post-kids! I was laughing about how it all went down. I can remember a similar situation w/ my husband after I had all the training time and a big gap in fitness happened. Your tips are spot on, especially the one about deciding who gets to set the pace. Hope you get more soon in the future!
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    6. You nailed it. Running with Chris will always be a challenge for me because he is naturally faster. When we run we alternate the stroller for equality but when I start to hurt he takes over. He also lets me dictate the pace but also pushes me to go harder. We haven’t run together in awhile but need to before this belly gets too much bigger and I end of waddling 😉
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    7. Thanks for the tips NYC Running Mama! My husband and I both run, but not together since we have somewhat opposite work schedules. However, we decided to sign up for our first marathon (Walt Disney World in January), and want to train together – especially for our long runs. I definitely think these tips will help!

    8. My fiance and I used to run together a lot (it’s one of the main reasons our relationship grew as fast as it did…) we haven’t been able to this year as he had 2 knee surgeries earlier this year but now he has been starting to run again (1-2 miles) and I am really excited to run again together. We always took it easier paced, and chatted and it just made me really happy.
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    9. Loving this post! SO much of this is true. My husband hates running and does it so that we can do something together. While that works out most of the time, when we stray from your tips above, someone ends up with hurt feelings. Here’s to many more happy miles with your hubby!
      Lisa Pokorny Couch recently posted..Marathon Training: Week #3My Profile

    10. My husband and I used to run together all the time, but it’s become harder with the kiddos and now we take turns. We do manage to sneak off for trail runs on Friday afternoons before picking up our girls, and even though my husband is WAY faster than me, it’s just nice to be out there together.
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    11. I agree with all of these! Hubby is just gettting back into it and he’s naturally faster than me but needs to watch his pace so he doesn’t shoot too fast coming off of surgeries. Him running with me motivates me to go faster when needed and helps him slow up if he needs to.
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    12. I wish my husband and I could run together! He just isn’t into it, he tries sometimes by doing a 5k for charity with me but we run separately. He is supportive ( I run half marathons and I am training for my first FULL this fall.) I just teared up though reading the stuff your hubby has done with/for you. What a special person he is for supporting and pacing you. I also may have cried like a baby when I read your post on the DNF NJ marathon and all he did! Good luck on the Ironman! Thinking of you!

    13. My husband and I used to run together a lot but, like you, I seem to hog the training. We try to get out on Sundays, with him joining me with the stroller for a portion of my long run. Since he’s always been faster, he’s let me set the pace. We never really talk about who gets the stroller but since I’m going farther, he usually takes it.

      It’s a good reminder to go. I miss doing things with him as so much of life revolves around the child.
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    14. Like you, my husband and I don’t run together very often because of the kiddos. If we do, he pushes the double since he’s a lot faster than me. If we are able to run together sans kids, we run my pace and he’s cool with that. He will also pace me if I ask him to. A couple that runs together, stays together 😀
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    15. My husband and I just started running together. He’s never been a runner and I’m still easing back in after having our son in April. It’s been easier because with his natural ability to run a bit faster and my slow pace as I start training again we both have been running at a pretty even pace. We take the stroller and it’s family fitness time which I love. No mommy guilt because I’m out running when I feel like I should be spending time with my family. We’ve also been pushing each other to get out there and go when the other would rather skip the run for the day. I hope we can keep motivating each other. :)
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    16. My husband and I hadn’t run together since college. He was never much of a runner and prefers mountain biking but recently with the time crunch of life he has taking up recreational running as a way to stay fit. We’ve only been on a handful of runs together because of my the tendonitis in my foot but hopefully can do more soon. I love your tips for leveling the playing field. So perfect! I hope that you get to catch more runs together in the near future as it sounds like it is a very cool part of your relationship. :)
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    17. I love this. I used to run with my husband a lot – we have done two marathons together and trained together for each of them. We tend not to race together – he is faster than me at almost all distances (except the marathon, funny enough, I hold the family PR on that one!). But we trained together quite frequently. He is so good and patient about letting me set the pace – and I’m not so good. I have learned so much patience from him!

      I am now 36 weeks pregnant and not really able to run much more than 1-2 miles at a time (I run/walk 3-4 miles at a time), and he still insists on joining me for these! I know it’s not much of a workout for him but he never complains, and it’s really nice to have company!

    18. I don’t run with my husband very often, but we have done. We are currently both training for a marathon in Oct, but we usually run on different schedules. He could be WAY faster than me if he ran more. He is totally a natural runner and back in th eday, he was really really fast. In hs college he ran some fast 5 and 10k’s. He is the type of person who can miss weeks of running and then go out thehre and run 8 miles like he never missed. (although it is getting a little harder but he also just turned 37 do it should be).
      When we do it we do it as fun and easy. We pre-determine a pace we are both fine with and then just have fun with it. Since we don’t do it that often it is nice to have those fun runs :) with my best friend :)
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    19. This could not have come at a more perfect time! My fiance and I love running together but often get very frustrated at one another (he is naturally faster, I would rather go slow and steady for longer). We are used to doing our weekend runs together but are finally realizing that we need to tweak our system so that we can both get in a good workout and not end the run feeling annoyed.
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    20. This is so awesome Michelle! Isn’t having that time with your spouse the greatest? When we were dating, I couldn’t get my husband to run more than 2 miles with me, but he eventually caught the bug. Now we are both training for the NYC marathon this fall! When he was just getting started, I would always push the stroller, and told him the day he was even close to my level we would be sharing the load. I now happily hand him the thing the minute we hit Harlem Hill in CP. :)
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