Warring Workouts With Significant Others

Battling Thanks, Make Love Not WarMy wife and I are usually pretty good workout partners. Sometimes we just pop in a DVD and knock out a solid circuit routine and for others times we throw the kids in the running buggy head out for a run. Despite our days of synergy sometimes it’s a battle to agree on anything at all and the end result just might be not working out together or at all.

I’ve never really asked other people how often they work out with their significant others but I have read a fair number of blog posts about people not being able to run with their partners due to pace or chattiness. Maybe we’re an anomaly in how much we try to work out together but I really enjoy spending that time working hard to get healthy and fit with her. It’s so much more rewarding knowing that we’re doing it together and supporting each other throughout our journey.

Our current dilemma, and the point of this post, is that the further I get into my journey this year the more it’s focusing on triathlons. Obviously this means focusing more on swimming, biking, and running. While I’m still doing 1 – 2 circuit training routines per week most of my workouts are focused on one of the other 3 sports. This alone has greatly reduced the number of workouts we do together.

For swimming I’m the only one with a gym membership that has pool access so that’s not really an issue. For cycling I ride with my local cycling club or solo and she’s not yet at a level where we do training rides together. We’ll do a family ride when we get a chance but that’s not quite the same thing. Then there’s running …

Much like other bloggers running is usually a contentious issue with us. I don’t mind doing a slower pace to run with her but she’s constantly telling me to run ahead and get a better workout in. She then beats herself up for being slower than me even though I tell her not to, obviously those aren’t feelings that are as easy to control though. When I do run ahead I’m constantly feeling like I’m abandoning her and feel a huge sense of guilt for not being at her side.

So what’s a guy to do? Stop running together?

Run but try to just push through the issues and try to get past any pace barriers?

Run together and just try not to worry about anything and just run?

Running is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the underlying issue. How do significant others workout together when they’re at different levels of fitness with different event goals?

Give Amy a step or fast paced aerobic/dance routine and she’ll smoke me leaving me to trip over my own feet. Give me an endurance event where you have to push through any pain or the heat and I’ll leave her in the dust.

It’s not that she’s horrible at endurance or that I’m horrible at aerobics, it’s just that our degrees of fitness and natural abilities differ depending on what we’re doing. If our goal is to workout together then the challenge is for both of us to bring our levels to a point where we can both workout together while somehow still feeling like we’re getting a good workout in. I think as time goes on one person can bring their fitness up to increase the challenge for both parties but I think it has to start by the stronger person meeting the other and supporting them.

In other words it means compromise and growth which are already at the foundation of any strong relationship. What makes it hard to implement is communication, which let’s all admit is hard sometimes in even the best relationships.

For my wife and I it’s going to come down to planning, like so many things have along this journey. The days we’re going to work out together need to be planned ahead of time and we either have to agree on a hard workout that may require one person to bring their A game or an easier workout that might mean another person may want to add more workout time in. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to workout together, in actuality it shows just how much we do because we’re willing to workout even longer.

Whatever we do we just have to communicate and not throw up our arms and miss a workout all together. In the infinity wisdom of my daughters favorite TV show:

that does nothing but cause confusion and delay

How do you deal with training issues with your workout partners? Do you work through them or just choose to not workout together?

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  • http://christy.shrinkingjeans.net Christy_TheSistherhood

    Great first post at the Sisterhood, Sean! 

    My husband has always been supportive of my fitness ventures, but has never joined me! With him being gone during the week (only home on weekends), we don’t have much time anyway. He has recently joined a gym, and we have talked about getting me a bike so we can ride together as a family on the weekends now that our kids are getting older. 

    I do hope one day he’ll get to the point where he enjoys running enough to join me. And when that day comes, I will totally adjust my pace to accomodate him, because the thought of him wanting to run with me is thrilling!!!

    I hope you and your wife can stick together on this fitness journey! I can’t imagine a more wonderful way to make sure that it’s something that becomes a lifestyle as opposed to just something you have to do to lose weight!

    Kuddos!!

  • Nancy

    Excellent first post Sean.  Like Christy, my husband supports my efforts in fitness, but we don’t work out together.  Our fitness goals are entirely different and our schedules are equally different.  Even trying to walk together is an adventure.  His legs I swear are twice as long as mine.  So even though he doesn’t walk that fast, his stride is so much longer than mine, I am almost running to keep up with his walk and he is close to a snails pace for me to walk at a decent clip .  I do envy your working out with your wife. 

  • http://smartstrongsexy.blogspot.com Brooke F

    i don’t run with my hubby.  he pisses me off that he’s so much faster than me, so its best to just not run together.  running at my pace i want to hit him b/c its so effertless.  running ahead i want to hit him because he left me. 

  • http://www.averagemomswearcapes.com Christie O.

    This makes me laugh! shortly after i got into triathlon, my husband followed. i signed up for my first race and trained my ass off. he didn’t train AT.ALL. and i only came in about 3 minutes before him. *bitter* he constantly does this. he barely trains and then he either beats me or he comes in only a few minutes behind. *bitter* ok i joke about the bitter. sort of. he now has trained a little more consistently and has gotten way better. it is hard for me to not beat myself up about being a faster runner, but i try to be happy for him pushing his pace (he’s now in the 8 minute range and we both started in the 10-11 minute range.) how can you not be happy for that? i have improved too, to the 9 minute range, so in the end, what’s really important is that we’ve completely changed our lifestyles. Now, date night will consist of swimming at the pool (sep lanes but still romantic, LOL) and then going out for 1 beer afterward (so as to not kill the entire workout). Because we both do triathlon training at different levels, we train separate, but we still incorporate some workouts or even racing in as “date night” like tonight we’re doing a local “taphouse 5k” together. (last year i smoked him in this one because i can run in the heat and he can’t! LOL) There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition as long as you don’t beat yourself up for losing. Each person has their strengths and their weaknesses, like your wife and cardio and you with running. i have a friend who is an amazing triathlete and his wife is a mid-packer like me, and they start out together on a ride or a run, but they have a healthy understanding of each other’s fitness levels and are really supportive of each other. He might run or ride off and leave her but she doesn’t feel like she’s being left and i think that’s the key. the undertsanding. anyhoo the bigger picture is the picture of health you’ve both become as a couple and for your children! awesome! workout out together has literally sealed my marriage, we have a closeness and a respect for each other i never thought possible and i love that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000703285086 Kay Phoenix

    Excellent post.  My partner is way more fit than I am, but we still work out together.  When we go walking and he wants to pick up the pace he just goes ahead of me, runs awhile and then runs back to where I am. 

    Hiking we usually stick together so he can make sure a wild chipmunk doesn’t get me! 

    We have a salt water pool in our building and the great thing about swimming is that it doesn’t matter who is faster or has more endurance…there is only so far you can go!

    When we go to the gym, he uses the equipment he likes and I use the stuff I like.  If one of us is done before the other, we just go back upstairs.  Easy peasy!

    • http://www.averagemomswearcapes.com Christie O.

      a salt water pool!!! i want one of those!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000703285086 Kay Phoenix

    Excellent post.  My partner is way more fit than I am, but we still work out together.  When we go walking and he wants to pick up the pace he just goes ahead of me, runs awhile and then runs back to where I am. 

    Hiking we usually stick together so he can make sure a wild chipmunk doesn’t get me! 

    We have a salt water pool in our building and the great thing about swimming is that it doesn’t matter who is faster or has more endurance…there is only so far you can go!

    When we go to the gym, he uses the equipment he likes and I use the stuff I like.  If one of us is done before the other, we just go back upstairs.  Easy peasy!

  • Anonymous

    I’m still waiting for my hubby to get on the health and fitness bandwagon so I really have nothing to add to this, except….how wonderful to do something like this together!!
    I did run a 5k with my oldest son this winter and he was so supportive and would run ahead and then run back to keep me moving along! It was really nice to have that support so I’m sure that “couples” that do this together would get the same kind of “good” feeling!

  • http://twitter.com/fitmacdaddy Mac Smith

    I have similar problems Sean, except they’re reversed. My wife is a much faster runner than me and she can run forever (like 100 miles at a time forever). If we ever want to run together she just has to decide that it’s going to be a recovery run for her. This seems to work well for her because she has a hard time taking it easy. Maybe you should plan your easy recovery runs with your wife?

  • http://plainolegrandmaislosingit.wordpress.com/ Adah

    My hubby always slows his “wogging” pace to mine. He is 6’2″ and I’m 5’4″ so the stride distance makes walking a little more difficult. I almost trot to keep up with his walking speed but we make it work. And he does not do aerobics…he said he would try a classs or DVD with me. But to be honest…I would die laughing from his moves. He is so uncoordinated! But I love him for the effort!

    I couldn’t ask for anyone more supportive or encouraging than he is. I love that he puts the effort into helping me on this weight loss thing. And he does push me out of bed at 5:30 in the morning just so we can exercise….second thought maybe I don’t love him as much as I thought I did!!!!

  • http://plainolegrandmaislosingit.wordpress.com/ Adah

    Excellent topic…my hubby always slows his pace to mine when we “wog”. He is 6’2″ and I’m 5″4′ so the difference in strides when we walk make it interesting..I almost trot to keep up with him but we make it work.

    He doesn’t do aerobics although he has volunteered to do a dvd or class with me. My fear is I would die laugh from watching his uncoordinated self try to keep up.

    He is my biggest supporter and is always encouraging me. He knows when to lightly push and when to back the hell away. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this journey but could someone please remind me of that when I complain that he pushed me out of bed at 5:30 am to go wogging!

  • http://ajslevine.blogspot.com Laurie

    Definite tricky issue. Hub and I don’t work out together, we are in totally different places, but I like seeing  how you have tried to make it work.

  • http://Thinfluenced.blogspot.com Sarah Kopf

    Good post! I think it’s just hard to find a happy medium sometimes. Take this example: Last week my hubs & I were going to go out for a run. Great. Well, we were half way through and I was tiring, so I told him I was breaking it down to a jog. He proceeded to walk while I jogged, and he kept up, which angered me (because I was really working hard.) He’s 6 foot something or other and I’m just barely over 5. I ended up mentally beating myself up over my shortcomings even though we’re a full foot or more different in height, and therefore stride. 

    It’s hard to find a place where both spouses are perfectly in sync. I think it is do-able. Take weights for instance. We work out together, but he at his weight and me at mine. Have you tried using that example to help Amy feel better? No two bodies are the same. 

    Good luck! 

    Sarah @ Thinfluenced.blogspot.com

    • http://agirlwholovescupcakes.com A Girl Who Loves Cupcakes

      My husband is way more fit than I am and can run circles,around me. We both go to the gym &, work out seperately at first. I may do zumba or ride the stationary bike while he does heavy weights and runs, then he will help me train and if we swim we use same lane he just swims faster. I don’t even try to compare myself. But, his support and encouragement has been totally priceless. I dont think I could of even attempted as much as I have. He has been essential in my success.