Tuesday, May 30, 2017

10 Tips for Survival when You Are Married to a Non-Runner

My husband has a love-hate relationship with my running. When we dated and were first married, I didn't run. So he did not marry a runner. In my late 20s and early 30s, my lifelong struggle with anxiety became unmanageable. I started working out at a gym where there was a 1/4 mile indoor track. One thing led to another and eventually, I began running. Who knew that I would love it so much? Over time, the major benefit of all that running was that it made my anxiety subside.

So now he's married to a runner.

We are very different, my husband and I. He's the Yin to my Yang. The cream in my coffee. The butter on my bread. The bacon to my eggs. Why all the food analogies? Read on...

My husband knows that not only do I love to run, I need to run. He's ok with that. For the most part, we've come to a peaceful existence, my non-running spouse and I. How do we make it work? What's the secret to success for a runner who's married to a non-running spouse?



I've been running for about 25 years and we've been married for longer than that, so clearly we've found a way to make it work for us. I thought I'd share some of my tips. Some of these things may work for you, others, not so much. Sometimes they don't work for me either. Overall, the keys are to compromise, be considerate, and letting go of expectations.

Do not nag your non-running spouse to start running. There's really no bigger turnoff than someone pushing you into something you don't want to do. My husband likes to hunt and fish. While I'm not opposed to a sunny afternoon in the boat with a book, I'd be miserable in the rain or in a duck blind waiting for a flock of birds. I don't even think I could fire the gun. He wouldn't make me do that, so why would I expect him to run?

Find something that you both enjoy and make time to do that. Both Mike and I love food. He's a really good cook and likes to experiment in the kitchen. I like to play with healthy recipes. We also like to eat out. This is something we've enjoyed forever. After my last 2 Chicago Marathons, I came home to a prime grilled strip steak and an expensive cabernet. Why would I want him at my race when there's a home cooked meal waiting for me? Plus if he's not at the race, I can focus on the task at hand instead of scanning the crowds for him.

Don't expect your spouse to be as excited as you about anything running related. But savor the moments when he is. There have been many days where my husband actually asks me how my run went. I know he doesn't want details, so I don't give them to him. I am thrilled that he asked, and I thank him for that. What really makes me happy is hearing him brag about my running to other people. That's when you know it counts.

Be considerate of objections your spouse has. I've run a lot of races and my husband has never raised an objection. Except once. A few years ago, I was asked to join a Ragnar team. I talked with him about it and he told me that he "didn't think it was a good idea". I was surprised by his reaction but I didn't join the team, reminding myself that he never says no to anything I do. While I do get a little FOMO every time someone runs Ragnar, I didn't want to stay up all night, anyway.

Share your plans with your spouse. Whether it's a big race you are signing up for or just a run around the block, keep your spouse in the loop. How unfair is it for a runner to sign up for a race and not talk about it with their partner? Think about this. Committing to training for a long distance event is a time suck that will affect everyone around you. How would you feel if your spouse told you that he/she was making a big decision that would impact everyone in the household? You will need to work out the details together. Marriage is a partnership and things go so much smoother when you consider everyone's feelings.

There might be some things you won't want to share with your non-running spouse. Besides all the stats and splits and data, your spouse might not want to know about chafing. Runner's trots. Snot rockets. Peeing in the woods. Peeing while running. Black toenails. No toenails. GU. On the other hand, my husband enjoys entertaining stories of the weird things I see on the run.

Find a tribe. I could have made this post all about poor me, I've had to go to so many races by myself. I won't lie and say that didn't bother me. Seeing all the husbands out there cheering their wives on kind of got to me. But I had to remind myself that running is my thing, not his. After I found my running friends, both of us were relieved. Now when he chooses to go to a race, he's all in, because it's his decision. When I ran Big Sur, he got up at 3 am and drove Kristina and me to the shuttle bus. He was seriously as excited as we were.

Plan your training and races around your family. Don't make your running something that he always has accommodate. Sometimes you will need your spouse to plan around your runs, and if he doesn't have to do it all the time, hopefully he won't mind. One summer when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, we had a family weekend in Wisconsin planned. He got the boys up and loaded into the car by 6 am so that I could do my long run in Wisconsin while he unloaded the car and got everyone settled. By the time I got back from my run, he was on the pier with a beer in his hand and his fishing line in the water.

Show your appreciation for the things your spouse does to accommodate your runs. Be grateful. Be present. Do something nice for him. Remember, marriage is a 2-way street. To make it work, it can't be all about one partner. Find balance. Don't make everything about running, either.

BONUS: Share this little benefit of running with him: regular exercise may increase testosterone in women, which can increase sex drive. Better yet, prove it to him. 

If all else fails, remind him of this: "Happy wife, happy life". 



Are you married to a non-runner? How do you make it work? Is your spouse supportive?

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti as well as Coaches' Corner aka Susie, Debbie, Rachel, and Lora.






87 comments :

  1. These are great points. My early morning runs rarely interfere with our weekend plans, and when I try to sneak in a run on vacation, I try to keep it short.

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  2. These are great! I haven't been running as long as you so I'm still trying to convince my husband to run with me and he still comes to races. Not all the time but 50% I'd say. I'll let him off the hook one of these days. But he's my bestie so it's hard not to want him to be there for everything! Lol

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    1. I would have loved if Mike ran with me and came to all my races. But he doesn't and I think we've found a way to make it work.

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  3. All great points! I'm lucky in that my husband is pretty supportive, and sometimes actually runs/races with me. Although I feel guilty dragging him along, most times he offers to be my driver ;-)

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    1. Your husband seems pretty accommodating--and he's a good sport with the pictures. I do love his photobombs!

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  4. Ha! I can relate to just about ALL of these! My non-running husband came to my first Chicago Marathon in 2013 and I thought that would be the norm. Yeah...no. He recently made a comment about the costs associated with some of my races and I gave him THE LOOK. He must have gotten the message because when I mentioned I've been asked to join a Ragnar team he said, "great--you should do it!" ...and he almost seemed like he meant it!

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    1. Nice! Because....that last point, right? Happy wife...

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  5. My running has never been an issue for me and my husband. I'm sure it helps that we don't have kids so we have plenty of time to do our independent activities as well as have tons of time for each other. Also, running doesn't consume my life, it is just a part of my life and since it makes me happy, it makes Paul happy too! I will say he is good at either genuinely being interested when I brag about a particular run (because who else can you straight up brag to besides your husband??) or he is good at pretending! I'm sure there's a bit of both.

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    1. You make a great point. In a way, it's good that my husband isn't all in because he makes me pull back when running does start to consume my life!

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  6. Great post! I was beginning to think I was the only running blogger whose husband was not a runner. He is more than happy to buy me everything I need to support my running, but I've given up on trying to get him to do it too, but to be fair, he did do a 5K with me at Disney and I was thrilled!

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    1. Ride the wave! That's great that he ran with you!

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  7. I used to wish and think about trying to coerce my hubs to be a runner. No such luck. Reading these makes me laugh as I recall the blank stare I get from him when I want to talk workouts

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  8. Such good tips Wendy! I've got a similar situation and I try to appreciate the support I get!

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    1. It's all you can do. I just read this to my guy and he loved it! Yep, the little things mean a lot.

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  9. These ring home with me.

    My hubby has no interest in ever becoming a runner.

    Now he plays tennis and it often gets in the way of our weekend plans. But I will never complain.

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    1. And you shouldn't, since you have your thing, right?

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  10. My husband wasn't a runner when I started running, but he did come to all of my races with me and was very supportive...except that he thought I was slow. Then he started running (about 2 years into my running) and discovered that I wasn't all that slow back then, LOL. I don't mind that he started running except for double the cost of everything, from running shoes to race entry fees, dang it. But it's a good thing to have in common, this running deal. :)

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    1. I love that he started and running and realized that he was slow...right?

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  11. I wouldn't dream of trying to coerce my better half to join me in running. He has no interest and I'm fine with that. I don't run in many races, and only 5Ks, but he's been to every one of them. Although we don't talk about my running frequently, basically only when something exciting is going on or how I emote on how good it makes me feel, he always asks me to be careful when I leave and never fails to ask how my run was.

    Your tips are excellent and full of common sense.

    What hit home most profoundly was you comment about hearing him brag to others about my accomplishments. That is priceless.

    Mostly he worries about me because I'm a senior citizen and physical activity, exercise, is a new to me, and us.
    When I took on training for a half marathon in 2015, I told him I needed his full support. If he was uncomfortable with it, I would forego my plans, with no hard feelings. His response? "Go for it."

    Your tips are excellent of full of common sense. A partnership: fair to both parties.

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  12. I love all of this !

    As you know, Roger is supportive of my running, and runs races with me... I think he mostly gets FOMO and cannot imagine not having another medal. But there are races that he just doesn't want to do at all, he won't even come to them, and I'm completely ok with that. We do trade off, I follow him to his aikido seminars sometimes and take pictures.

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    1. It really is a give and take kind of thing, right?

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  13. I'll just take the time to brag about my winning lottery ticket! My husband is not a runner but cycling fills that void in his life. He spent 7 hours on the bike yesterday. We hung out in the spa after dinner and talked details (his ride/my run.) We do shorter rides together, unfortunately due to degenerative disks in his back he can't run more than 1-2 miles. We've talked a lot about how fun it would be if he could run races with me. A quick scan of the comments so far tells me I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm glad you and Mike have found a good balance.

    True story - Les was a cyclists for years while I was a runner. In 2010 I was feeling pretty burned out. We were on Catalina Island for our anniversary and I suggested renting bikes. He was shocked! We came home and a few weeks later I had my first bike since 5th grade - a mountain bike. I now have a second bike. The number of bikes in our household is more than 2x the number of people!

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    1. Congrats on your winning lottery ticket! I hope it was for $$$ so you can buy all the running stuff!

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  14. Ah yes, very good points! My husband doesn't run but loves hunting and fishing as well as golfing. I like to fish but the other two, not so much. After 4 years of running, he finally gets it. I've had to go to a few races alone, but this race season he took me to 3 out of 4 of my half marathons. That was unusual for him and very sweet. I don't race long distance as much as I used to, so it's nice to have him there to support me and he takes pictures. I don't have a tribe just yet since we have moved. Only a handful of runners here and they run marathons and able to travel. I'm not quite there yet, but when the kids get older, I hope I can travel a bit more to meet friends at races. We have come a long way and I'm so thankful for my husband's support for running now :)

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    1. I don't have a local tribe, except for Marcia and Steph, but I try to plan races where I'll know people. It has made a world of difference!

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  15. I'm married to a former runner. He took on the half marathon distance before I did but after a few, he hung up his running shoes and went back to his first love, the gym. I rarely talk about running with him....except when I need to bring up some far-flung race adventure. Bless his heart, he's been very supportive.

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    1. He is so supportive! I love that he goes to your tris with you--even tho it's over the fear that you might die. LOL. That would never happen, BTW.

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  16. I like this post. I think it helps if you're married to an athlete even if he's not a runner. My husband does BJJ and obviously that's way different than running, but we both share the joys of endless loads of laundry, big bags of gear, and training schedules. He does BJJ on Mon/Wed afternoons so I use those afternoons to do group runs and I do my long runs on Sat/Sun before he wakes up. We do lunch together every Saturday so that's our guaranteed together time every weekend no matter what our hobbies are. Plus with me running on Saturday morning and him at BJJ, we both go to lunch hungry!

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    1. I have to admit that I did not know what BJJ was so I googled it. That is way different than running, but it's definitely as intense! Glad you found a way to make it work.

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  17. Good. This is a great post--I love it and a whole lot of people need to read it. Andrew is a runner, kinda, although he never was before he met me and although he's done a few marathons he most certainly doesn't live and breathe it the way I do. He barely trains for his races, either. He'll go weeks without running a single step and then run 4 times per week and for 3 weeks, then stop again. It drives me crazy. But I don't expect him to have the same mind-set that I do, mostly because I can't handle the competition. Ha ha! I'm a sore loser and he used to be a semi-pro soccer player so I have no doubt that if he started training properly he'd whip my ass and over my dead body is that ever going to happen. I HAVE ISSUES.

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    1. I don't think you have issues at all. I love that you are so competitive. Fortunately, my husband is a mesomorph and he'll never ever run faster than me.

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  18. This is great advice! I'm not married so I don't have to deal with any of this just yet, but your tips were spot on. You can't force anyone, especially a spouse, to be passionate about something just because you are.

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    1. I never knew you weren't married! So let me ask...would you rather be with someone who's a runner or not?

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  19. Ha ha! Lol-ing at the "Prove it to him" line.

    I have a non-running spouse who is extremely supportive, but he does get annoyed from time to time, because you're right; our running schedules affect our spouses too. My husband also often makes me breakfast when I come back home from a Sunday morning long run. I forgot how amazing that is until I read this post.

    Sounds like you have a keeper :) I sometimes wish my husband was a runner, but I am really grateful that he's so supportive. Although I've mentioned once or twice that I want to do an ultra someday and he's like "NO!" Ha ha.

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    1. I can't complain. I could, but I won't. He lets me do my thing.

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  20. A lot of my friends are non-runners, so I use my blog to talk running. I've never said to any one of them that they should start running. I didn't start running until I wanted to, and that's the only way it's going to stick.

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  21. Mr. Judy also didn't marry a runner. In fact, we'd been married over 20 years before I started to run. Like most of my hobbies, he thought how cool at first -- this won't cost much. Now that you've stopped laughing . . .

    He only comes to the halfs. I think he came to 2 local races when I first started to race (not my first one, btw), and that was the end of that. Too much waiting, often too cold . . .

    I almost always asks him what he thinks about me signing up for a race, whether a half or a local. Whether or not he has a shooting match that day -- sometimes he does, but we usually make it work by tag teaming so the dogs aren't left too long. Most of the time he doesn't care. Except sometimes he does have to feed the animals because I just have to get up too early.

    Sometimes I've given him a list of the halfs I'm interested in next and let him pick which one to do. Sometimes he's suggested a race -- although I always have final say.

    I think it would be cool if he ran too, but I've never actually suggested it to him. He's made it pretty clear he's not interested. But I have told him that I'd like him to find something that made him fell as happy as I do when I finish a race! He's been to enough to know what that looks like.

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    1. It's funny because Mike has suggested a few races (destination) over the years, but when I sign up, he gives me grief! Right now that's over LV, but I know him well enough that he'll be there with me.

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    2. Half the time my husband can't even remember which race is next . . . or when . . .

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  22. Alex knew what he was getting into. I don't feel sorry for him. He also knows the flip side of things, when I am not running, both by choice and due to injury.
    Luckily, I've turned him in to a bit of a runner!

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    1. I keep saying it, but I'll say it again...HE'S A KEEPER!

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  23. You and me both sister! My hubby likes going to the bigger races (like I paid for him a hotel or flight kind of race) and if their is a coupons or 2 for free beer at the end. I have had people walk up to me and say, so you are the runner so I know he is proud of me but it is nice to get a little excitement out the guy every once in awhile too :-)

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    1. Right? In LV, I say we dump them at the casino and do our own thing.

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  24. Both of us run but he is much faster then me, so I just put my music on and do my own pace. We share the details at the end. I am very lucky to have a Mr. that is very supportive. He came to my women's only half and packed the cooler with all my faves and took pictures. I didn't realize how much he does to support me until I read about how many of you aren't in my situation. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. You are very lucky and I"m glad you know it!

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  25. I'm very fortunate in that Major Hubs runs as well and we have run just about every race together. However, he is content to just run for exercise and not do races...so that is where he accommodates me! That is definitely not the norm, I know. So I'm very grateful!

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  26. When Rob and I started dating in 2005 he was not a runner, and told me I would never get him to run. (I never tried) Once we moved in together in 2010 he started to see me running and working out every day. He decided he should start working out and was doing home workouts. Soon he realize that running was very efficient and one day he asked to run with me. I think by not pushing him but letting him see the benefits led him to give it a try. But its not for everyone, thats for sure! Its great that you and your hubby have figured out how to make it work!

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    1. Look at what he's doing now! I think it's so awesome.

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  27. Having running friends you can talk to is wonderful.

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    1. It's nice to have people who "get you"!

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  28. These are great tips! I'm blessed to have a running and workout partner in my husband. There have been times when he couldn't run with me (work) or wasn't in the mood, but even then he was supportive. He's been known to drive around my long run routes and take pictures or wait for me with the dog. Otherwise, he's right along side me!

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    1. You are so lucky and I'm glad you know it!

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  29. These are such great tips, Wendy! I'm also married to a non-runner. It's a difficult, delicate balance at times.

    Sometimes, he mentions how he wants to start running, but I'm secretly scared that he actually will. I selfishly like running to be my thing.

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  30. LOVE THIS SO HARD AS IT FITS IN MY WORLD AS WELL. Non RUNNER YOGI WALKER BOOTCAMPER CROSSFIT'ER it's all the same! <3

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    1. I'm not sure what he wants--maybe balance?

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  31. I think you know this is a constant struggle for me. I think it's a bit harder because we have young kids and yes, my husband married a runner but I definitely wasn't as "into" it when we met and married. For me, it's a constant struggle but I have made some big changes (and he has too) so we I can run/swim/bike happily and he can let me. I'm not sure if I would want to be married to a runner because then I would have to figure out how to split time and races but I would sure love to be married to someone who was excited about it and would come with the kids and cheer me on. *sigh* We're getting there but it takes time...
    On the other hand though, he's always up for a celebratory dinner :-)

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    1. Mine too! Food is for sure our meeting point.

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  32. These are all great ideas. Really, being respectful of each other is the big point. Even though my husband runs, he is now a triathlete, so we're not always on the same training page. Sometimes we have to accommodate each other's training needs.

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    1. I think it would hard to be married to a runner as well--accommodating each other's schedules would be a challenge!

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  33. This was an interesting post, I liked your points. Keeping your spouse in the loop on planning is a good one. It does seem wonderful when a couple shares an intense hobby or sport, but it can also work out when they don't with, as you say, consideration and work toward finding some things that you DO enjoy doing together. My husband did get through a Learn to Skate program with my boys. It was great for the boys to have their dad on the ice learning with them. But he wasn't interested in continuing. For a while I thought it would have been great for him to partner me on the ice, but I've realized there are some big potential disadvantages to that, too. He is very supportive, comes to my events when he can (almost always), and videos me. Lately we've been spending a little time in the gym together and that's a really good thing.

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    1. I love that your husband is supportive of your skating. I wonder if I was doing something different mine would be more supportive? We're at a happy medium, tho.

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  34. Yes, very true. Happy wife happy life! My husband is also a runner, but has stepped back from racing for a number of reasons. Although he doesn't share my interest in racing like he used to, he is still incredibly supportive of the races that I do run, and I am so thankful for that.

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    1. It's nice that he's so supportive! That will come in handy now that you're a mama!

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  35. LOL - that's all I have. :) ( in referring to the last paragraph) You crack me up lady!

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    1. I read this post to my hubs and he laughed too...

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  36. Since I'm married to a non-runner, I can relate to these completely! However, my husband is super supportive and if work allows, he's always at races/events to cheer me on! :) He even registers for the occasional 5K here or there!

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  37. My husband is an occasional runner but he's super supportive of my running. I love when he joins me here and there, but it's hard to schedule runs together, somebody has to watch the kids:) This is such a fun post and a topic for most runners.

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    1. I love hearing how everyone makes it work for their marriage, whether or not their husband runs!

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  38. Great post Wendy! My husband runs, mostly 3x a week for 3 miles. He does it just to stay fit, I have convinced him to try one half marathon, but I think it will be his one and only.

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    1. You never know....he might get bit by the running bug!

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  39. This is awesome!! I agree, it is good to respect if the spouse says no.
    I confess when I ran my marathon and saw several folks handed bananas and drinks along the course I wanted to cry at one point...I think that was my loneliest day running ever. Biggest thing I ever did and no one really got it.

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    1. That's tough, Karen. I've run plenty of races when no one's been there I know that feels bad. It doesn't bother me as much as it used to. But that first marathon is a biggie and I'm sorry you had to do it alone!

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  40. This is great! My boyfriend is a runner, but he's not as "intense" about it as I am and doesn't race as often as I do, so I've definitely had to consider how he is impacted by my "running lifestyle". We definitely have to do a lot of give and take.

    My favorite thing is when he and I run together just for fun. And we love going out to eat too!

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    1. I love how he runs now too! And he's doing well at it. You guys definitely make it work.

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  41. Fortunately in my last relationship, I got him into running... but he hated it lol. As do I, but I love it afterwards lol.

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    1. Hopefully, someday you'll grow to love it before and after!

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  42. My husbuddy is awesome, and seems to want to and tries to support me. I find that if I give him fairly straightforward instructions on how to support me as a runner, he gets it. If I hint and suggest that maybe possibly I would be running a race at this time and at that venue, he doesn't get it. It used to be a big deal to me that he be at all my races, but I have grown to accept that he doesn't get it, and leave it at that now. I did have to have a stern talking to him just before my first ultra marathon - to stop telling people I was crazy for wanting to run that far - I was nervous and anxious and his talk was making me seriously doubt myself, which I didn't need at that time - he looked sheepish, and starting telling people that his superstar wife was going to rock her first ultra!

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    1. Awesome! He sounds a lot like my husband! If you tell them what you need, that's all it takes, right?

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  43. I'm married to a runner who can no longer run. :-( It's tough because I sometimes feel guilty gushing about my fun races, etc. because I know that he's sad that he can't run. He's really getting into biking, though, and I'm starting to bike with him!

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    1. That's a whole other perspective I didn't consider! I'm glad he's finding his thing in cycling.

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