Just over a month ago my wife and I completed our first marathon – and we finished together. Don’t believe me? Check out the Grand Rapids Marathon 2011 results and you will see our tag times were identical: 4 hours, 3 minutes and 5 seconds matched stride for stride with my incredible wife. I share this because I honestly believe that you too can do it – and enjoy it the entire time. I’ll admit there were some days it seemed like the worst idea ever, but looking back I can honestly say the experience has made us better individually and as a couple. Through the four months of training and finally the race, there were a number of things we learned (also check out the end of the article for some tips on running your first marathon together!):
1) We can be a team
Since we had committed to running together, training was never a competition. Instead we became a team as some days were easier for one of the two of us than other days. Even within individual runs each person feels better or worse at different times. We were able to encourage each other to keep at it, finish the runs, and ultimately finish the race well.
2) We can be humble
There were definitely days where one of us was committed to training (usually my wife) and the other was intent on skipping (guilty!). We learned how to be humble and be corrected during times of weakness (or laziness). Also when I would be exhausted toward the end of our long training runs, I would become upset whenever Torrie (my wife) would push the pace. It’s hard as a man to be outdone by your wife, especially in a physical activity, so I definitely learned how to be humble and accept that some days she was just kicking my tail.
3) Running together is a fun and healthy way to spend some quality time
When training days require runs that last two or more hours (sometimes more than three), you are forced to spend time together. Physically the training has put us in the best shape of our lives (we both lost weight and finished a marathon – 26.2 miles!) but it also created in us a habit of always thinking of running as a way to spend time together – and stay healthy too!
4) We can accomplish incredible things together
I honestly believe I could not have finished and finished as well as we did without the accountability and encouragement of my wife. It reminded us that being a couple is about being able to accomplish things that we never could have as a single person. Training for and finishing a marathon is and incredible task, and finishing it together was one of the best feelings of my life.
So if you’re reading this and you think you want to give it a try, here are a couple of things I would suggest you consider:
Plan Ahead – It takes 4-6 months to train for a marathon, so look to find a race that fits this time schedule. Get Serious – Register and pay early! Commit. Go out together and buy new shoes and running clothes. Tell your friends that you are running, and have them hold you accountable (it’s hard to back down once you’ve told everyone). Find a Training Schedule That Works for You – There are literally hundreds of “first marathon” programs on the web. My wife and I chose one that required five days of training a week, and it became very taxing on our schedules as the runs got longer. There are some out there that are geared to three days a week. Find what works for you and your mate. Commit to Enjoying It! – Deciding to run can be the best or worst decision you make depending on your attitude. Commit to encouraging each other and having fun accomplishing an incredible task together!
I hope this encourages a few of you to get out there are give it a try – I promise you will not regret it!