“There should be a support group for the significant others of marathon runners”

I read this comment on a friend’s Facebook wall yesterday, after he posted the results of his 20 mile run, and had to address it.

I’ve never been on the other side of this situation but I know I wholeheartedly agree with her comment. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for those who put up with all that goes along with being the other half of a runner in training. And it reminded me how lucky I am that my partner in crime, Chris, has embraced all the shenanigans that come with me, Runner Lindsay.

And there are plenty of said shenanigans. I offer both some reasoning for our partners, to help better understand why we runners are the way we are, as well as some simple reminders for runners to show appreciation to those who love us regardless.

Runners Can Be Snobs – Unintentionally
“Lins, how was your long run?” Me: “Great! It was only 12 miles today so nice and easy.”

I know how awful that sounds. It’s pretentious, snobbish and likely makes the person asking feel like he or she is about as lazy as a Basset Hound. Trust me, it’s not our intention to make everyone else feel inadequate. I think it’s actually a perfect example of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – in running terms.

Marathon runners often log 18, 20 and 20-plus-mile long runs during peak training. The weeks prior to and after those big ones are significantly lower in mileage to ensure our legs aren’t overly fatigued. By the time we work our way up to those big ones in our schedule, a 12 mile one seems like a walk in the park.

A Runner’s Mood Can Be Entirely Determined By A Run
I could score my company a great PR placement, win a free lunch and snag a front-row spot in the gym parking lot – essentially, have a great day. And it can all be wiped out by a bad run. It sucks that we, as runners, let our mileage or speed or splits define us. It can be even worse for a supportive partner who cheers us for getting in 5 miles after a long day. It’s one of those moments of which we have to try and let go, and be especially conscious NOT to take it out on our partner or let it disrupt their good mood.

On the flip side, a horrible day be saved by a kickass run.

A Runner’s Schedule Revolves Around Running
Chris respects my need to have quiet Friday nights and go to bed before the 10:00 news begins. He’s happy to stay in and watch a movie on a Saturday night if I had a tough long run earlier that day. And when he asks if I’d like to join him and his co-workers for happy hour after work, he prefaces it with, “Don’t worry if you can’t make it. I know you need to get your run in.” I’m grateful for this understanding and accommodation.

True, we runners sacrifice plenty to make room for our lifestyle. Let’s not forget our significant other feels the pain of that sacrifice just as much.

Finally, how many times have you taken a step back during training and thought, “Why am I doing this?” Why do we sacrifice sleeping in and going out on weekends? Why do we force ourselves to push our mileage on those days we feel like we just can’t? I think runners are very driven, goal-oriented people who are able to see the “big picture”. When we have those doubts, we’re able to get back into the positive mindset quickly. But imagine how our partners view it.

While they do see some of our joy, they see a lot more of our pain, tears and frustration. Most of all, they don’t have that end goal in sight. They’re not the ones who get to experience the runners high and euphoria of crossing the finish line. I have to think it’s incredibly difficult for even the most supportive person to understand all the questions of “why?” Yet, they still support us. It’s easy to understand why they deserve a support group all their own.

This is just scratching the surface; there are plenty of other things our partners put up with like our smelly clothes and eating copious amounts of food. All we can say is thank you and we appreciate it. And, for most of us, this level of committed, hardcore training typically isn’t year-round so you won’t always have to put up with it!

Have something to add or want to give a shoutout to your best guy or gal? Leave a comment or tweet it to me @runlikeagirl311.


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