On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is your partner a runner? Does it matter?

Yesterday morning, I was indulging one of my favorite Sunday/Monday traditions and was reading the NYTimes' wedding announcements.  As someone who really doesn't care for marriage or weddings, I have no idea why I do this.  A few times I've seen people I know (that's what happens when you go to a snooty college for undergrad), but mostly it's just voyeuristic pleasure.

The lead story this week caught my attention: it celebrated the marriage of two competitive runners.  He was All-American at Stanford; she was All-American at Yale, an Olympian (10k in Athens), and took 3rd in Chicago in 2007.

This got me thinking: Is it important to you that you date/marry a runner?  Or is it enough that they just understand that you run?  Would you want your partner to be someone that you could actually run with?  Lots of questions, I know, but I'm genuinely curious.

For the most part, the men I've dated have been supportive non-runners.  One boyfriend ran a marathon, sort of.  He did all of his training on the treadmill at the gym after work and had a miserable race.  Another boyfriend was actively not supportive, cajoling me to turn my alarm off in the mornings and skip my runs (that wasn't the only way in which he was annoying, and how that lasted four years is one of life's mysteries).  One of my good friends/training partners often runs with her husband - in fact, I've run with her husband a few times.  None of my boyfriends have ever been that supportive.

So I guess, for me, I would say that it's important that my partner be supportive.  I'd love someone that I could run with, but day-in/day-out that might get kind of old.  Or worse: competitive.

Of course, I'm still looking forward to the Times' announcement that features one of these:

Actually, no, I'm not.  I don't see the appeal to getting married mid-race. At all.


  1. To me, it's important that a boyfriend is at least supportive. The last one wasn't and that ended the relationshop. Ofcourse, being masochistic me, we didn't break up right after I figured out that he was never going to be supportive in the running department. So, we ended up fighting for months...great memories. ;)

    To be honest: I would like it if a boyfriend is into running himself. Especially into mountain marathons and trail running. Those races make great experiences/memories to share. But then again, I could also share those with running buddies/good friends...

    That being said...I would have to get myself a decent guy first... Too bad that I'm not looking at the moment. ;)

  2. My hubs is a supportive force in my life. he tells me he is proud of me, and he tells me I am a bad ass when i get up at 5 to go to spin or 7 on a Sunday to meet run club. Honestly, that's enough for me. he also doesn't pitch a fit anymore when it's time to drop $$ on new shoes (he knows it prevents injuries), and he only slightly winces when i just HAVE to have some other piece of reasonably priced gear.

    Would I like it if he ran with me? Probably. But maybe not. He has a bum ankle due to one of the worst racquetball accidents in history, so he won't be running anytime soon because of that. Couple it up with no love for running at all, and I think I will be sans running buddy husband forever.

    But I'm okay with that. I've got my girls and my run club for that support. it's something that is *mine,* and that's nice too.

  3. I think it's less important that he be a runner and more that he's into a healthy/active lifestyle. my bf runs (and approaches running in a completely different way - very methodical, very regimented, by the book) and i just wing it. i enjoy myself and dont worry about how many miles are on my shoes or how my gait is...that being said i do wish we could run together (a/k/a i wish he was as laid back/slow as me and we could enjoy being together). we run at the same time but i'm usually way behind in the trails...it would be nice to stay close. but i'll take him despite this :) he's got awesome legs.

  4. My wife is not a runner, however she's always been supportive of my efforts. We've been married 16 years. In the beginning I only ran occasionally with a big flurry before a marathon, and in the last few years, my time out of the house due to running and biking has been significant. She continues to be super supportive. If anything, it is all the money spent on gear, races and travel that is the bigger strain.

    It is hard to play what-if game, if she wasn't supportive from the start when it really was a hobby, but I think it would eventually have become a problem for me.

  5. I'm with Annie, I'd like to meet someone who is into an active lifestyle so even if we're not running together we can support our mutual endeavors but also at the drop of a hat decide to go do something active (hiking for example).

  6. Great question! I talk, think, and read about running a LOT, and it impacts my sleeping, eating, and other habits, so I'd have very little common ground with someone who couldn't support that. I think I'd enjoy a partner who can keep up, or is at least similarly passionate about some other sport.

    Ps. "Poop is Brown!" :)

  7. I've had two serious boyfriends since I started running seriously: one, an absolutely manic runner who literally never took a day off until sciatica nearly crippled him, and a smoker who thought nothing of a little cocaine to take the edge off. Both respected my running, but to be honest, I wasn't a fan of either extreme. Um...but I would probably pick the runner again if I had to choose. There is a point at which all the respect and interest in the world can't bridge the gap between diametrically opposing lifestyles.

  8. I would rather have a supporter than a runner, because I would totally get competitive with someone that is also a runner, and no good would come of that. At all. My husband is the best cheerleader ever, which is awesome. I think it would work as long as he wasn't against my running, but the fact that he is so supportive is really, really, really nice.

  9. My hubs has been both supportive and occasional running buddy - I've gotta say I like the support the most (and he is ridiculously, wake-up-at-4 to drive me to race starts, schedule entire family vacations around races, never question the running spending supportive).The buddy part is good once in awhile, but my selfish ass finds it irritating to wait for someone else to get ready, not be able to go as far as me, etc. I AM into it when he wants to do healthy stuff in general, though, and wish he'd do more.

  10. Not a fan of runner guys. All too fucking skinny (I'm sorry, I find it intimidating when a dude is 2% body fat and I could clearly crush him like a twig and most have skinny man asshole syndrome to boot. Bad bad bad BAD.

    I think the best I may have experienced? A total non runner who had enough an interest in the sport to know the big names and understood what I said (and even had some interest in training methods based on other sports.)It's nice to have someone around who can say "you realize you'll feel worse if you don't run" as opposed to the skinny man WAAAAA I RUN 115 MILE WEEKS ITS MY PASSION bullshit that I just don't get. And because they're all skinny, I've gotten lots of flat out mean fat comments from runner guys.

  11. Wow, I really love all of your thoughtful comments. It sounds like "supportive" and "active" are the things we all look for, and the extremes are bad. (Although I go for skinny guys myself, just not the hyper-competitive "I run doubles and then sit around drinking beer and eating pizza and insulting Angry Runner" guys.) I think I need to take this advice to heart and work on making sure that I get what I need out of my relationships to support me as a runner, since that's part of who I am.