Running with Your Romantic PartnerPosted on Oct 13th 2009 1:00PM by Jennifer Fields
Running with a partner has been demonstrated to help boost motivation. Knowing you have another person depending on you to show up helps keep you honest. Plus, just having someone to talk to and suffer through the tough times with you during the run can help keep you going when you might otherwise stop. Running with your romantic partner, however, can put a whole new and complicated spin on the dynamic.
When my boyfriend and I run together, I go through a range of emotions: Mostly, I'm grateful for the company and love spending time with him. But somewhere along the route, when I notice he's practically marching in place because he's so much faster than me, or he gets ahead of me and then has to drop back to meet me again, I start to feel a mix of annoyance and frustration. I'm annoyed that I hold him back, and I'm frustrated that I'm not faster.
I'm sure it has to be frustrating for him as well. He logs all of his runs in a notebook, and I was slightly mortified when I realized that runs with me get a special notation -- presumably to account for the slow time. (Rude!) As a runner, I get it. If you're looking back over your performance, it's important to be able to account for the blips. As the girlfriend, I hate being a blip.
So you can imagine, with this as the emotional backdrop, the situation is ripe for disagreements. I'm out of breath and struggling to keep up, he's holding back and frustrated -- you're talking and running uphill and things don't always come out the way you want. We once spent a four-miler embroiled in an argument. And while I was incredibly impressed with our lung capacities, I wondered who decided working out with your partner brought you closer together.
Allison Mezzafonte, editor of one our favorite blogs, Shelterpop, is training for the New York City Marathon with Ryan, her boyfriend of three years. She has also experienced the difficulty that comes with running with your significant other, but has turned the situation into a training tool. "It can definitely be motivating," she says. "Ryan is faster so I think it helps my pace. There are times when I want to kill him for having a better pace than me because I feel like I'm too slow for him and then I get stressed out and try to run faster. But I know that running with him is actually a good thing for my training and that I don't really want to kill him. In fact, I probably owe him."
Do they have disagreements while running? "Of course! Sometimes, things come up and then you don't have the energy to get into it. But they pass and then we laugh about them. Sometimes those tense moments make you angry and you run faster," she says.
I can't say those tense moments during runs with my partner have inspired me to run faster. However, I do think there is a benefit to jogging with your partner even when disagreements erupt. During the four-mile-long argument I had with my boyfriend, we kept talking -- something we might not have done in our apartment, where one person can just go into another room and shut the door. I also think it's incredibly helpful in solidifying the relationship. Running with a partner is all about finding common ground, negotiating and compromising. It's about a striking a balance, staying together even when one person could go ahead and finding your own rhythm. It's about showing up for each other and getting through things together.
"It may sound corny, but I think training for the marathon together has brought us closer," says Mezzafonte. "You really see the ins and outs, highs and lows of your partner when you're pulling a 20-miler together. I can't imagine one of us training and not the other. The discipline and time-commitment is exhausting. Running together has put us in sync -- schedule-wise, energy-wise and mentally. It's been fun! Sometimes I say that I'll miss our long runs together. He tells me not to worry, that we can still do them. To which I say, eh, no thanks. We can just hang out. We don't need to run 20 miles to spend time together that's for sure."
Another activity for couples? Partner yoga.