How to Stay Married to a Marathon Runner

August 29, 2012

Today is my favorite day of the year. August 29. I know it seems like a random day on the calendar, but it’s the day I got to marry the greatest man in the world. Most of the time, all you ever hear me talking about is running (or swimming and biking). What you don’t always hear about is the fact that my husband (aka Mr. rUnladylike) is a huge reason why I can do what I do. It’s often my better half that makes running a full possible.

You might be surprised to know that my endurance running journey actually started on my honeymoon. Mr. rUnladylike and I spent the week after our wedding in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. One night while out to dinner, we started talking about things we wanted to do during our first year of marriage. Somewhere between fancy cocktails and delicious entrees, we decided to run a half-marathon. We’d been training for a 13K and were already up to 7-8 miles. I joined a local running group when we returned home, ran my first half-marathon 3 months later and the rest was history.

This was the actual dinner on our honeymoon when we talked about running a half-marathon together.

As I celebrate 3 years of being married today, I’m letting Mr. rUnladylike give the advice. If you’re one of those brave spouses out there who doesn’t run marathons but lives with someone who does, I feel for you. We all know we’re insane. We wake up at ungodly hours on the weekends to train, which makes Friday and Saturday nights a real blast for you. Then we come home from runs and just talk about them for hours on end … how we felt, what was tough, what so-and-so said, how so-and-so was feeling, blah, blah, blah. We spend ridiculous amounts of money on every running gadget known to man. And we cook way too much pasta that you in turn are forced to eat. It seems like we’ve got it tough – after all, we’re the ones running 26.2. But in reality, it’s you, our partners, who got the raw end of the deal.


In honor of my wedding anniversary, here are 4 tips from my husband on how to successfully stay married to a marathon runner:

  1. Be a good listener. It’s a fact that your marathon-running partner is going to want to talk about running. A lot. Ok, sometimes incessantly. Try to remember that it’s just because they’re excited, proud of their accomplishments or because they just need to vent. You might not always want to talk about running. You might be bored out of your skull half the time. But know it’s coming from a good place and that they’re not always looking for you to provide insight or advice. Sometimes you just need to smile and nod and let them enjoy their triumphant stories of running through the neighborhood or getting through Saturday’s long run. But don’t let their obsession become the only thing that you talk about either. A gentle reminder now and then that there’s more to life than talking about running is A-OK.
  2. You don’t have to revolve your life around your partner’s training schedule.  And the runner in the family shouldn’t expect everyone to revolve their life around their training schedule either. Just because your wife has to get up at 5 a.m. on Saturday does not mean you have to go to bed at 9 p.m. too. It doesn’t mean you have to be at every local 5K or eat pasta every Thursday night. You can and should be supportive, but that doesn’t mean changing every detail of your schedule to be on par with theirs.
  3. Channel your marathoner’s inner drive. Training and running a marathon takes a lot of mental discipline, hard work and determination. Bottle up some of your partner’s go-getter attitude to help inspire you to achieve your health and fitness goals. Be active together. It will give you more time to spend with each other, be it running, hiking, biking, etc.
  4. Be an advocate for fun. Help keep your marathon-running partner from being too serious. Remind them (and encourage them) to take a day off, to have fun, to go on a trip, to eat some junk food every now and again. Help them keep their running in perspective. Yes, give them lots of pats on the back and dote on their victories, but don’t let them forget that although running brings joy to their life, life is about more than just running.

How do you balance training and marriage? What advice would you add to Mr. rUnladylike’s tips? What health and fitness goals do you and your spouse/partner have for the coming year?



Oh my gosh, I think my partner can relate to this. He is a complete non-runner.

I would add ‘be the balance’. Share the drive and energy, but teach your partner to relax, and remind them of a life outside the run!


Great additions, Kate. Thank you for sharing!


Awesome tips! That Mr. rUnladylike is a keeper!

I like his point about not revolving his/your family’s life around your training. I’m grateful that my husband is so supportive, but I also try to stay balanced and considerate.

Winks & Smiles,


Thanks, Wifey! So glad your hubby is supportive of your training. It makes all the difference!

Smitha FauxRunner

Darn, my hubby scores only 1/4 🙂
He makes sure that he has his marathon training and I have mine independently . LOL.


Thank you, Kat!!!


Great post. Your point that “… in reality, it’s you, our partners, who got the raw end of the deal” and all the points by Mr. rUnladylike are dead on.


Thank you, Maria! My husband will be thrilled by your kind words. Glad you liked the post 🙂


I love this, such cute and good tips. I’m lucky in that my hubby was the runner first so we both follow a similar schedule. 🙂 I suppose that’s the other good way to stay married to a marathon runner: be one.


LOL Paulette. I think your last thought is the best advice: be a marathon runner to stay married to one. Love it! Even truer for triathletes 🙂


I strolled across your website today, because my lovely spouse asked me to help him train for a marathon. He wants to qualify and run the Boston Marathon in 2 years! So I googled for help! I’m a runner, but not a Marathoner! I’ll stay half crazy! But more than anything I want to help him, encourage him and be there every step of the way for him. I’ll now be following your blog! Thanks for sharing!


I’m so glad you found me LaurieAnn! Thank you so much for stopping by! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help or posts I can point you to during the journey! Best of luck to you and your hubby! xo

My wife is the runner...

I know this is an old post but still looking for help. I am the supportive husband and do my best in every way but lately as running is more and more of a priority, it feels like everything else is being put to the side. I want to see the advice for the addicted runner. What can they do to stay married? Like you said, the one not running is getting the raw end of the deal at times. Don’t get me wrong I love much of the support aspect but when it takes over the marriage or your life together it is tough for the non-runner. You run, you do what you can to participate and support but it will never be as extreme as they are, nor do I want to be that extreme. My hard part is that we met and had many year before running was a big part. We have many other things we did and shared our time but once running took over, all those other things were no longer enjoyable or a priority for her. So the husband feel much more alone in the marriage, unless the activity or conversation revolves around running. I guess this might be more of an extreme example but of the people I know in the running community there are some really dedicated runners out there. I just want them to realize as well that they can’t just take without giving. You can’t ignore that your partner may not want their life to revolve around running, all the time. Yes it is a part and you accept your partner’s hobbies and share in that journey. That is why you are together, to share and be with one another. Just word of advice to the runners that “want their spouse to understand”, they do… but you have to look at it both ways and make that huge effort to put down the Facebook group, not talk about running for a night, not make every vacation have running involved in some way. This is mostly true for those that met and fell in love before running was in the picture. Don’t alienate them and push them away because they are not a runner.


I am terribly sorry to hear what you are going through and can’t imagine the challenges and struggles you are personally facing. I am certainly not a relationship expert, but I would strongly recommend open, honest and productive communication so that the two of you can talk about this and develop solutions together rather than harboring feelings of resentment and frustration. Going to see an expert like a therapist together would also be my recommendation so you can talk with someone who is certified and experienced to help you. While running is terribly important to many of us who run and love running, nothing is more important than the people in our lives we love. There has to be a balance and common ground, and you are so right that it can’t be our partners always making all the compromises. If you love your wife, which it is clear that you do very much, keep fighting together to find a solution that you can both support and make work. I will be thinking about you and hoping for the very best. xo


I found this website this morning, having similar feelings as the husband on June 17 post. I feel as if running is priority over spending time with me. We also take vacations where marathons take place. Sure, it’s a great time and he is setting an example for our children but after awhile, all the time he puts into training, even on vacation can drive me nuts. I’ve talked to him about my feelings before and he gets it for about 2 days. I’m proud of him and respect all runners but from a non runners point of view, it can be frustrating feeling neglected.