My fiance, John, and I have been together for 6.5+ years. For most of those years, he has been a non-runner. Last year, we did run the Philadelphia Marathon together, but before that – and since – he has not run. I’ve been lucky enough that he’s come to many of my races, including crewing me in my 100 miler finish in 2012. With all of this said, there are some issues that arise when you run marathons and ultramarathons and your partner doesn’t. While I am no expert, I’ve learned a few things that have worked for us and hope that these can help fellow runners with a non-running partner:
- Discuss races with your partner before you sign up for them. Nothing says “I don’t care about your opinion” more than signing up for a race without at least talking to your partner. While my fiance’s word isn’t the last one when it comes to race sign-ups, I like to discuss with him my idea for the race, lodging, transportation, etc. before I sign up for any major races. This is in part to the fact that I typically request his presence as crew for me, but also because I want to make sure he’s aware of it and knows what training I will have coming up.
- Rejigger your training plan if need be. One of my fiance’s biggest complaints about my long distance running is not seeing me on weekends. Training for long races takes hours and hours and even after 6.5 years, he still actually wants to hang out with me. Crazy, I know. I’ve learned that back to back long run weekends 1) don’t allow me to see him ever and 2) are a pain in the butt and not my favorite thing. I opt for one long run on Saturday mornings so that our Saturday night and Sunday are still free for whatever we want. I am a morning person, so I do a lot of my runs before my fiance has even woken up, meaning I am home with a run in the books before he knows. Think about what works best for your schedule and your partner.
- Pick a few key races a year. Instead of having a bunch of key races a year (which isn’t ideal for a lot of racers anyway), I pick 1-2 ultras and 1-2 marathons a year as my key races. I will have other races in between, but picking my key races allows me to pick times of year to focus more heavily on training. If I’m not training for a key race, I can be a bit more flexible with my training plan and if a key races is close, I just let my fiance know and he’s more understanding when I have to not skip runs.
- Race locally. The past 2 years, I’ve focused on picking more local-t0-me races. One, I am supporting local race directors, which I love doing. Two (and more importantly to my non-running partner), I have to travel less, spend less on gas and lodging, and am home sooner after a race. It’s also great to become more connected to the local running community, so it ends up making everyone happy to race locally.
- Know they may not ever fully “get it.” Even after running a marathon, my fiance doesn’t fully understand why I would want to run ultras or why I need to train for hours on end, at times missing out on social activities. I won’t fully understand why he enjoys playing video games, either. What we both have, though, is respect for each other’s hobbies and that’s what matters. I have to know that he doesn’t fully get it and that’s okay; more space on the trails for me that way!
At the end of the day, each couple is different. Each has priorities and breaking points, so what works for my fiance and me won’t necessarily work for everyone. What matters is that each couple figures out what works for them.
If you have a non-running partner, what is your biggest tip for making the relationship work?