I always enjoyed running solo when I was single. I loved throwing my headphones on with my favorite running tunes and heading out onto the tiny roads that wind between the hilly potato fields in Eastern Idaho. This became my release and my “alone time”.
Things changed when I got married. Sandi and I got married in 2007. When we started dating one of our favorite dates was to run together. Sandi was just getting into running and her greatest motivation for working out was having a partner to run with. Without a partner . . . she didn’t run.
So I had to make adjustments (really, it wasn’t a big adjustment as it was a great way to spend time with my girlfriend).
Challenges to Running as a Couple
Running together presented some challenges.
I was running an 18 minute 5K and Sandi had the goal of breaking 30 minutes. I had run 4 marathons and Sandi had not yet run more than 3 miles.
So speed and distance tolerance were major difficulties to running together and we had to find a way around these hurdles.
Many couples find this same hurdle when trying to run together. One individual is just starting out in fitness and running while the other has been running for many years.
Benefits to Running With Your Spouse/Partner
Jogging together has many benefits that in many ways outweigh the difficulties.
For Sandi and I jogging together has become our way of spending time together. In many ways it has become our “date time”. We plan out our runs and workouts in advance and it gives us a minimum of 30 minutes to a couple of hours to just chat and talk. Working out together can really be a way for couples to spend time together and communicate.
Working on a common goal is a rapid path to forging stronger relationships. I have noticed this in my job as a night shift nurse. Whenever a patient codes of crap hits the fan and we are forced to band together as a team and we always come out with stronger bonds. The same is true of athletic teams. After the stress, long hours, ups and downs of an athletic season, unbreakable bonds are formed. Running with a spouse or partner creates the same bond. Training is hard. Setting goals and training for races creates a bond with your partner. The stress of grinding through a workout the joys of achieving a PR all work together to strengthen the relationship between spouses that train together.
Tips For Working Out With a Spouse
So, how do you run as a couple? What is the trick to getting your training in with your spouse? Here are some tips that Sandi and I have used to run together and build our relationship.
- Running bleachers
- Track workouts
- Sprints at park or football field
- Running loops at a park
- Running short loops so you can see each other
Not only does running bleachers allow you to run with your husband wife, but it is also one of the best workouts you can do when training for speed or endurance. Running bleachers strengthens key muscles in your legs and thighs which will increase your endurance when running. When running a marathon or other long distances there is much less concern about respiratory strength versus strength and endurance. Bleachers are a great way to get your legs to exhaustion quickly so that you build endurance and strength in a short amount of time.
Couples are able to stay together and make bleacher sprints within just a few feet of each other. Finding bleachers is not terribly difficult either, you can simply head over to the closest high school or middle school and begin doing bleacher sprints. Even as little as 10 or 20 stairs will be enough to get a great workout.
Track workouts offer a great way for couples or individuals of different speeds and skill levels ot train together. While training on a track you can run interval workouts or timed sprints and then take breaks between workouts together. It is also possible to simply run distance workouts on the track, doing this allows you to be able to see eachother and communitcate while running without having to be too far apart. This of course can be pretty boring if you are running more than a couple miles.
Here are a couple ideas for track workouts.
Run speed intervals – 100, 200, 400, 600, 800, 600, 400, 200, 100 – We used to call these ladders back in the day. This workout basically intails sprinting a short distance at top speed. Betweem each sprint you rest just enough time to recover (1-5 minutes) before running the next sprint. Your goal is to run each sprint at top speed.
800m X 10 – It has been hypothesized that if you can run 10 800m sprints at a consistant pace than that will be your marathon time . . . in other words, if you can run 10 800m sprints at 3:30 minutes than you should be able to run a marathon in 3:30:00. I have actually tested this and have found it to be most accurate. The trick is to run an 800 at you marathon goal pace and then to rest only a couple minutes between each one. As your strength and endurance improves you will gradually be able to run the full 10 at your goal . . . if it is realistic.
Spint 100m jog back 50m – this workout sounds deceptively easy. The goal is to start on the first straightaway of the track and to sprint 100m at full speed, as soon as you finish the 100m you turn around and jog back 50m. When you reach the 50m point you turn around and sprint 100m again. This pattern is repeated until you return to the starting point.
Running on a track is a wonderful way to train together as a couple. If you have children you can bring them and allow them to play on the track or field. Having infants also works out because you can keep a close eye on them whether you let them out to paly of decide to leave them in a stroller at you r starting point , either way you will only be away from them for a couple of minutes maximum.
Doing Sprints at a Park or Football Field
Sprinting on the grass at a park or football field can be a highly soothing experience. Often, if the grass is well maintained you can take your shoes off and really enjoy the soft, cool grass directly on your bare feet.
This is a great exercise for couples because you are always close to your partner. You can even bring children along to allow them to workout with you or to play as you complete your sprint workout. Many high schools and middle schools have soccer or football fields that are open to the public or are relatively easy to get into to complete a workout.
Try some of these workouts next time you can find a nice open field:
25 meter shuttles – this workout is a killer and great for destroying your quads and developing strength and speed. Start at a designated spot and place cones or markers every 5 meters (about three large paces) for a total of 25 meters. Then from the starting point sprint to the first 5 meter marker, bend down, touch the line, trun around and sprint back to the starting point. At the starting point bend low and touch the line then turn around and sprint to the 10 meter line. Do this over and over until you reach the 25 meter point. At that point work your way back down 5 meters at a time until you get back to the starting point again. Take a break and repeat.
10m sprint and pushups – This workout is best on a football field with clearly defined meter markers. You simply sprint 10 meters then do 5 – 10 pushups. This is reapeated over and over until you run the entire length of the field . . . then turn around and repeat. To make it a bit easier you can do the pushups each 20 meters instead of every 10.
Snake – I love this workout but it is best completed with 3-4 people. This can be done at a park or a football field. To do this workout simple have each runner line up and begin running in single file line about 10 – 20 meters apart. You should begin jogging at a slow cool down pace. At a given time the runner in the back of the line goes to the side of the line and sprints to the front of the line. As soon as that runner reaches the front of the line the runner who is now in the back goes to the side and sprints to the front of the line. This process repeats over and over and over. I like doing this on a football field because you con follow the five yard markers and swerve along each five yard line until you reach the end of the football field. Dooing this would make the total distance run about 1,000 meters or about 2/3 mile.
Running Loops Around a Park
If you have small children this is a fun way to get the entire family out to the park and to set an example of working out and fitness with your kids. All you really need is a nice sized park that has at least an 800 meter peremeter and nice playground for the kiddos to play on. Just pack the kids up and bring them over to the park. One parent at a time takes turns either watching/playing with the kids or sprinting around the park. Since you will only be running ½ mile to a mile at a time it is important that you run just a bit faster than your normal running speed and faster than you race pace. After completing a loop you then switch places with you partner and they run while you watch the kdis. Parents can easiy do this workout together with kids and the kids will love the chance to be outside playing on the playground.
Running Short Loops
One trick to being able to train at your optimal pace and still be able to run with your partner is to set up pre designed short loops that you can run several laps on. This way both partners can run at their perfect pace while still being able to see eachother each time they pass on the course. Possibly setting up a short mile loop (out and back) type course will work best for this. This way each couple mintues you can see eachother, cheer eachother on, or take turns pushing the stroller while not having to sacrifice pace to be able to run together.
Take the Time – Make it Work
Few things in life will build a stronger bond and relationship than running together and training as a couple. While it may take a bit of extra plainnig to get the workouts organized it is possible. Children will love working out with their parents and getting them outside with you on workouts at a young age is a fantastic way to set an example of health and wellness for your young children.
Do you have any fun workouts that you do with your partner or children? We would love to hear about them – – – share them below!