Endurance Athletes’ Guide to Love and Relationships

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By Andy Jones-Wilkins
CTS Ultrarunning Coach

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and as such the CTS Running Coaches and I thought it would be a great time to share a few thoughts on how we encourage our athletes to maintain loving harmonious relationships at home while running long distances, training for hours on end, and often attending weekend-long events in far away places.

For maintaining healthy home harmony in the midst of the ultrarunning lifestyle here are four great places to start:

Coach Darcie Murphy says it’s pretty simple, “Communicate, communicate, communicate!  Most of the problems I’ve seen erupt in runners’ relationships have come when the ‘supporting spouse’ is left in the dark.”  I couldn’t agree more with Darcie.  Maintaining clear, open lines of communication allows for an open exchange of ideas, both positive and negative, and can keep relationships on an even keel.

Jason Koop, Director of Coaching at CTS, has another simple method, “I hired my wife a coach and it’s worth every penny.”  And, when you think about it, what better way to show a spouse or loved one you support and encourage what they’re doing than working to provide a means to mutual success.  Of course, in this case Koop goes on to say, “And that coach is most certainly not me!”  Clearly, a bit of distance and self-deprecation always helps, too.

David Henry, the CTS Coach who quite likely logs the most weekly miles and is himself coached by Koop says, “I definitely make a point these days to match time spent running on the weekends with time offered to my wife for her to either run, or otherwise engage in whatever self-care activity she finds appealing.”  In short, Henry offers up a trade.  It’s simple, and perhaps transactional, but it clearly works.

And as for me, after 26 years of marriage and running, what I’ve found works is to involve my loved ones in the process.  Sure, none of them want to talk about running nearly as much as I do, but they all love going to beautiful places, love hanging out with the friends I’ve made in the sport, and most certainly love the post-race parties.  So for me, I have found harmony in the shared aspect of running, the community of our sport and all the gifts it gives not just to me, but also to my entire family.

With my family before Western States!

Here’s wishing you all a happy, harmonious, Valentines Day!


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Comments 7

  1. Hello. A nice article. It can also be applied to work relationships in order to improve companionship. We ride our bikes together and it´s great.

  2. Awwww. I have the best wife in the world! The only person I know who gets more excited than me to embark on hill repeats in local Huddart Park!

  3. Pingback: Ultramarathon Daily News | Tuesday, February 13 | Ultrarunnerpodcast

  4. Good stuff!

    My CTS coach, Matthew Busche, and I agreed to build one day each week as a “wife ride”. It is an “easy day” for me to spend time with my wife on our bikes.

    By involving my wife in my races as part of my support crew for ultra-cycling races she SHARES my athletic experiences. In these races the crew is a critical element of rider success. We succeed together.

    Happy wife, happy life!

  5. My husband was inspired after seeing me complete my first ultra. Proud to say we just finished RDL100 within minutes of each other, having run the 1st 50 miles together. Nothing quite like running in the woods w headlamps at night to bring a couple closer together! Happy Valentines.

  6. It’s all about balance. In the peak of my competition, I was doing 12-to 15 24-hour MTB races a year and lots of local events. When I wasn’t racing, I was training. I was on the bike 25 hours a week. In 2008 I was seriously injured and the amount of competition diminished. It also gave me a chance to reflect. Previously, family activities revolved around my schedule. Not good. While my wife and sons were my support crew, I wasn’t in tune with what they wanted. So, today, I am sensitive to their needs and make time every year for family events. This year, we’re going to Mammoth to do some snowboarding and have fun in the snow.

  7. Great advice on involving loved ones in the process. My wife goes to most of my races & we try to make little weekend getaways out of it. I always make it a point for us to do what she wants too, not just focus the whole time around the race.

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