Why I Refused to Let My Husband Train for the Chicago Marathon

I am a Chicago Marathon H8R.  In fact, the Chicago Marathon and I should probably go on Mario Lopez's show to get to know each other better as people and come to an understanding.  But until that time, I remain a Non-athoner, one of millions of people around the world who just don't understand why anyone would want to make their nipples bleed like that on purpose.

So when my husband came to me earlier this year and asked me to give him my blessing to train for the marathon, I said, "Aw hell, no."

Now before you jump on me for quashing a man's dream, let me tell you that I have no problem with him going to see movies without me on Friday nights.  I don't question it if he wants to go out after work with friends.  I am totally fine if he wants to go for a brief, normal-duration run on a Saturday or Sunday.  Both days, even.  But after five days of him working until 7:00 PM while I'm at home with the kids, I will not sign off on several Saturdays in a row of multiple-hour runs.  I will not.

I think the marathon is a noble goal, but a selfish one.  And if the person who insists on running the marathon is in a relationship, it requires the non-runner person to be a martyr.  I'm just not that kind of girl.  I am not going to sit there and pretend to look enthused about running shoes and workout mixes and personal bests and nipple saving tips (Why is the nipple thing the most fascinating part of the marathon?)  I am not interested in sitting in a crowd of people (shudder) on Marathon Sunday just to watch for faces in the crowd.

Now, I know you've probably got your hands positioned over your keyboard as you read this, ready to tell me how I am a gross troll who rides a Hoveround (only half true) and who doesn't understand what kinds of miracles the marathon can work for people (except the first guy who ever ran one.  He died, Jill).  And that's fine.  And maybe someday when I don't have two small children around the house preventing me from getting any work done and I don't long for Saturdays just so I'll be able to play a parenting man-to-man instead of a zone, I'll be OK with the mister running in the marathon.

Just don't ask me to be excited about it.  Unless there are cocktails.  Are there cocktails?

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  • It's not even a noble goal, IMO, and I'm a (short-distance) runner. At those distances, the bodily systems basically start breaking down. Sure, you could say the same thing about summiting K2, but hundreds of thousands of people have not already done that.

  • As a one time goal in one's life I can understand it, but what i don't get are people that make these marathons a career! If you can run 5 miles that is great. If you are going to run 26 miles then why do you own a car, you can run everywhere then! people in this world run because that is all they can do to get around, run from village to village so you get there before dark and be safe.

  • Maybe when your kids are older it will be more feasible. I trained for and ran it two years ago, but my kids were middle and high school aged. I was normally home from long weekend runs by 9AM, and the kids loved the experience of coming downtown and seeing me complete the marathon. And I think that watching me persevere at something difficult was a positive lesson, but that would also be lost on younger kids. So, maybe in a few years for your husband?

  • See, now that sounds like a good compromise.

  • I made the stupid decision not only to agree to my husband's training for a half marathon but to participate myself.

    If you hear anything about the Summerfest Half Marathon in Milwaukee this summer, then you know it was a disaster. I should have known all along, because I have never had a good experience with a race: http://class-factotum.blogspot.com/2011/06/marriage-301-lecture-659-race.html

    I am done. No more races.

  • Does your husband "get to" watch football every Sunday? Does he "get to" have other hobbies that take multiple hours on the weekend? For that matter, do you?

    This seems to be not at all about running and marathons and all about your expectations of how your husband spends his time. Because, let me tell you, many couples find ways for both parents to have multiple hours of their own time on the weekend to do whatever the heck the want and still have time to spend with everyone together as a family.

    Your piece really rubs me the wrong way and smacks of a wife grasping at reasons to control what her husband does. Every couple negotiates their own policies and practices around this. But I would personally find your reasoning and expectations very hard to swallow.

  • In reply to mrtrumbe:

    Well, good thing you're not married to me then.

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    In reply to mrtrumbe:

    Im not married but have the opportunity to see relationships from a 3rd party perspective constantly, and see how most are miserable and fail. I had a whole response stirring in my head to exemplify how ridiculously selfish this post is, but you covered it pretty well. You would swear he was dabbling in prostitution or cocaine. God forbid he spends a few extra hours a week to better his health condition, which, in turn would improve all aspects of his life health wise. Gimme a break.

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    In reply to Dan Halicki:

    Calling marathon training "a few extra hours" is not accurate. A few extra hours per day, for a 4-month training period, is accurate.

  • I only run if I'm being chased by a large dog or the police.....

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    A - freaking - MEN.
    I've put in almost 10 years of marathon support for my husband. And almost all of that has been with small children. Here's a good one for you...he's currently training for a marathon AND a 112 mile bike ride AND a 2.4 mile swim. Yup, he wants to be an Ironman now. Lord help me!

  • Personally, I think you're totally cool with how you feel about this. Marathon runners and the whole marathon scene rubs me the wrong way. I work out and stay healthy, but 26.2 miles seems a bit ridiculous. To me, most marathon runners are athlete wannabes who can't play a sport.

  • If your husband was smart, he would divorce you. You are a selfish bi**h it seems.

    "I am not interested in sitting in a crowd of people (shudder) on Marathon Sunday just to watch for faces in the crowd."

    Then don't go! It's your husbands hobby, not yours. He is the one participating, not you. Maybe you should learn from this and get a hobby of your own.

  • As your aunt who is running the marathon tomorrow, I thought I should comment. Maybe we can get together and do the H8R thing. I, though, agree with alot of what you're saying. I didn't start running at all until the kids were grown and they were able to do their own things. I haven't done a marathon in 5 years and am concerned about the heat tomorrow. It will probably be more of a 26 mile walk, but I'm ok with that. I can see your points on the time commitment, and the toll it takes on the body, especially an old one like mine. I'm pretty much just looking forward to the beer my daughter is bringing to me at mile 18, the beer at the end of the race, Morton's for steak, & wine! Love, Auntie Cod

  • Yeah I am not with this opinion. It seems very selfish to me. The other responders are right. It's not drugs, hookers or something illicit. It's training and completing a marathon.

    I am home 16+ hours a day with 2 young special needs kids. My husband doesn't go to work and sit on his ass and eat bon bon's. He works his butt off to make it possible for me to stay home and take care of them. I don't think I would ever tell him what you told yours. They have to be their own person and have their space and it has to be able to compliment the family dynamic. In your house it seems what you say goes and that's it and that seems unfortunate.

  • Oh golly. I am a marathon runner, having trained for my last full when my son was 3 years old and having run two half marathons this year with a 5 yo and a 1 yo. Before I have started any training regime, I always cleared it with my husband, who himself has time consuming hobbies. He sacrifices, but I sacrifice my time when he's doing the things he enjoys. But, its not just about me - At the end of every race, when I am feeling worn out, I remind myself that it's important for our kids to see us have measurable goals and meet them. Its important for kids to see their parents do things other than watch TV. You should reconsider for him and for your kids- it might be the game changer you could all use.

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    There is marathon training, and then there is marathon training. 14 miles on a weekday? Yep. 3-hour weekend runs before I wake up? Yep, but then the half-day of recovery takes away from getting quality work done on the weekends, and limits any fun we can have on weekends. And I'm not even going to define the digestive system issues of "recovery" here but spouses of marathoners know what that means. I've long looked for a website devoted to spouses of marathoners where we can lament what it does to our lives.

    Make no mistake -- I'm glad he has a goal and meets it, repeatedly. I usually don't go to races because waking up early is not fun to me. We both have our hobbies and are fine being apart. But there are costs to running at the high level of training intensity that is required of a marathon.

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