I live with a non-runner.
My husband abhors running. He will not do it unless forced. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t support my running—he just doesn’t want to hear long stories about anything running-related. How does one who eats, sleeps, breathes running live with someone who doesn’t care one bit about running? With compromise, patience, and understanding.
It used to bother me that my spouse didn’t share my love (*cough* obsession) with running. I would think about all those other couples out there that ran together – battling trails and long runs, talking through some tough stuff, laughing and sharing together. But then I realized that if he did start running, he would be better and faster than I am, and it would sap my joy. Yes, it is true, I am overly competitive.
I realized that I like my husband just the way he is, and maybe more so because he doesn’t run. Besides, if we both ran,who would watch the kids? We wouldn’t be training together anyway.
So, if like me, you live with a non-runner; and if, unlike me, it bothers you, keep in mind that trying to push anyone to do anything they don’t enjoy will just frustrate the both of you.
Here is how to make things easy on your non-runner so they can give you their support:
Training Time – If you have young kids, try to take your partner’s life into consideration when scheduling your training runs. True, you need to get your miles in, but that doesn’t mean you need to monopolize all of your partner’s time. Schedule your runs for the early morning when everyone is still asleep, or during lulls of activity during the day. You can even help by taking a kid along, in a stroller, with you once in a while to give your spouse a break.
If you don’t have kids, be cognizant of your partner’s plans. If they want to spend time with you, listen to them and see if you can adjust your training schedule. If you are training for something big, like a marathon, that means a lot of time away from home. Make sure you have a conversation before you start training and share your training plan with your partner. This way they are aware of the work it is going to take, and you will be able to discuss any reservations your partner has.
Running Talk – I don’t really understand why, but non-runners loathe talking about running. Do your non-runner partner a favor, and keep your running talk to a minimum around them. If you have a running buddy or two, go to them to discuss running – your partner will thank you.
This is also good advice for work. Your co-workers have no interest in your negative splits – unless they are runners too.
Running Gear – I know the experts all say that running is a low-cost sport. It’s not. Maybe when you are just starting out and you’re running in your old cross trainers and a cotton t-shirt. But once you get the running bug, you are going to spend a lot of money on gear. From foam rollers to hydration vests, and from compression tights to a hands-free dog leash.
Money is the number one reason couples fight. Do not make purchases your partner is uncomfortable with. Discuss any large purchases beforehand. If you need to, set up a gear fund jar, and save up for those running ‘necessities’.
The Piles of Shoes – Runners need shoes, but they don’t need a pile of shoes. If your partner is annoyed with the number of shoes clogging your closet, try downsizing. You don’t need to keep every running shoe you have ever owned. Give some away to a charitable organization that provides shoes to the homeless or those in need. Or, you can give them to a company that recycles old shoes.
One World Running provides your old running shoes to people who can’t afford to buy new shoes.
Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe recycles shoes. They accept any brand at most of their stores.
Races – I know you want to sign up for all of the races, but discuss your planned race calendar with your partner before committing. They might have another commitment or something special planned for a day you want to race.
Don’t Push – Whatever you do – do not push your non-runner partner to run. Some people don’t like to run and that’s okay. Their interests make them unique just as yours do. If you want to share something special with them, find something you both enjoy. Maybe that’s hiking, fishing, or watching baseball – but never push them to do something they hate.
Don’t Take Advantage – And never take advantage of your partner. Make sure they are on board with your training and racing plans. If they have some hesitations about you starting a marathon training plan, talk about it and make some compromises. Maybe you can schedule runs when it’s convenient for your partner. Or, if you have kids, set up childcare some days so your partner can have some time to themselves.
In conclusion, relationships are about compromise and give and take. Be aware of how much you are asking of your partner and how running affects their life. Make sure they know that by running you are taking care of yourself, and you are a happier person if you’ve been able to hit the open road.
The silver lining of having a non-running partner? You aren’t both spending tons of money on running gear, and you aren’t competing for training time. Not to mention, you have a person who might just drive you to and from races and support you with all of their love from the sidelines.