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Trail Running with Your (non-runner) Spouse: things I've leaned over the years

Let's get this straight before I delve into this: My husband is "tough as nails" and a naturally gifted, gritty, stubborn rock climber. He views running as "exercise" ...because eww, running for recreation? He's done "couch to marathon" and "couch to ultramarathon fun run" on multiple occasions with success. He gets very upset when I say he didn't train for those events. I get upset that he considers an average of 8-15 miles a week "training." Ehm... Anyways.
Finished a summit run!

Here are a few things I've noticed over the years occasionally running with my non-runner spouse:

1. Don't lie about distances. I know, we ultramarathoners do this all the time. We stretch the truth to get our friends out on certain runs. We lie and say the next aid station is 2 miles away when we know it's 4. But if you lie to your spouse, it will only work once, they will never forget it, even if it was an unintentional miscalculation. (It genuinely was!) And they won't like it. Especially if you project the summit run will be 8-9 miles and it's really 18 and that's with you calling to get picked up before getting back to the car. Oops. Best to stick to places and trails that you've done before, and leave the "adventurous unknown" to times where your spouse isn't likely to run out of food and water.
On the summit of Mount Logan, realizing it will be a much longer trip than expected. He doesn't look thrilled.

2. Respect their bonk. Likely their bonk is your fault anyways (keeping them out longer than they're used to.) They don't want to hear about why they're bonking... Remember how getting irritable and angry is part of the bonk? Give them space. When my husband eats a protein bar to correct his bonk (and turns away from any of my gels or carbs) I don't argue. I just jog ahead and know he'll pull out of it in the next half hour and try to avoid him until then.

3. They take the word "run" literally. I hear this when we approach a steep peak "Ugh, we're not even running. You guys call this a run? This isn't running." And your spouse might relentlessly push your pace on parts of the trail you think are un-runnable. Silly spouse, don't you know "trail run" means "speed hiking with occasional running?!" But, if nothing else, you'll get some Fartlek efforts in.
Running the white rim in 60mph wind. What a hottie!

4. They might be too tired for sex after. It's actually a really nice change of pace, to have THEM be physically beat after an "easy" run instead of you. Tables. Have. Turned!
2 hours of post-holing and getting tired.

5. Running is NOT a date. Even if you want it to be. Simply put, an activity you do every day, often with friends (often others of the opposite sex) is not a date just because your spouse is running with you. Your spouse likely sees running as exercise, and exercising together is not dating. However, getting the giant burrito you're dying for after the run can be a date, right? (Or am I pushing this?)

6. Summit kisses actually suck. I know, it seems endlessly romantic to kiss your spouse at the top of a peak. Instead, your spouse says, "You have snot on your cheek." Or he turns away. Or, like on top of a peak the other day (in high wind and miserable snow) he leans over, a balaclava still covering his face, and tries to blow through the balaclava as a kiss before heading down from the exposed summit. Right. I'm giving up on that whole summit kiss thing. Here's some photos to demonstrate recent failed summit kisses:
"you have snot your face dear"

"Right. Just give me some sugar."

He leaned over and blew on my lips. That was NOT A KISS.

7. Going to the bathroom is easier. (You don't have to hike away as far.) They may find it acceptable to carry on a conversation or maintain eye contact. That's just weird.

8. Don't do a speedwork/tempo run. Don't "Train" My husband and I used to climb together A LOT. But we've both found solace in training with others. Sure, we still climb together sometimes and run together occasionally, but neither of us pushes the other as a training partner anymore. It's nice to go out simply to enjoy the experience together, chatting the miles away, and leaving the training/pushing/rough workouts to actual training times.

9. Be grateful. Your spouse wants to get out and see what it is you spend so much time doing. Be grateful they want to get out with you! Perhaps they will get an understanding of why you do what you do. Perhaps after some solid miles they just think you're crazier. Either way, be grateful that your spouse has taken a genuine enough interest in your hobbies to check it out with you, and return the favor!
my husband Ben, doing his thing a thousand feet up
that's Ben on his project in American Fork Canyon, UT!


  1. I like my summit kisses to be wet and sloppy. hahahahaha.

  2. What an eloquent and witty tribute to a wonderful man--better than any headline I've read in a long time. Great post!! :)

  3. I still remember her cattle prodding me along at the track!

  4. This is great! My husband won't run with me, though!

  5. I love this! It _almost_ makes me glad that my husband doesn't like to run. :)

  6. As always, you've made me giggle. My hubby runs fast for 3 miles and then is done-neither of us are happy, so I run with friends.


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