It seemed like the perfect idea. I loved running. My then- fiancé (now husband) loved running too. So why not train for a marathon together? We could support each other while doing something that we both enjoyed AND spend lots of quality time together. Perfect, right?
Wrong! It was hard. We almost broke up during a particularly hard and rainy long run in Central Park, but we didn’t. In the end, we trained for and ran three marathons together. And we still got married.
If you’ve ever trained for a race of any distance, you know that it can be challenging – physically, mentally and emotionally. Add your partner to that equation, and it could spell disaster!
But it doesn’t have to. With a little forethought, you can successfully train for a marathon, or any distance race, and cross the finish line together with your relationship intact!
1. Understand each other’s goals for the race.
Are you looking to PR? Is your partner? Is your primary goal to cross the finish line injury-free? Understanding your goals and your partner’s goals for race day is extremely important and will set the tone of your training, from the training plan you will follow to the paces you will run.
2. Decide on a training plan and schedule together.
Based on your collective race day goals, choose a training plan(s) and set a schedule. Will you follow the same plan? Will one or both of you be traveling during the training cycle? If you have children, how will you coordinate your workout schedule?
3. Set ground rules.
Will you complete all of your runs together? Will you run the same pace? Will you stick together, or is it OK to part ways during a run? Setting clear ground rules from the outset, can help curb misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
4. Know each other’s preferences.
Do you or your partner like to run with music? Do you prefer to lead or follow? Does your partner like to run on a specific side such as on the left or right of his or her running partner? (I prefer to run to the left of my husband.) Understanding each other’s preferences will make each run smoother. For example, if your partner doesn’t like to chat while running, it’s helpful to be aware of this so that you know, that he or she isn’t ignoring your conversation and grunting in response!
5. Be patient.
Be encouraging. Find out what motivates your partner – is it the race bling or setting a PR? What’s the most challenging – is it speed work or long runs? Understanding what your partner finds challenging can help you identify when to give extra encouragement. And be patient. We’ve all said something in the midst of a hard workout that we wouldn’t say normally. Be willing to cut each other some slack.