Striking a Balance

I'm sure I'm not the first person for whom running has created a certain amount of domestic disharmony. My partner announced the other night that he was fed up with doing all the cooking. I haven't at any time asked him to take on this responsibility: it just seems to be the case that while I'm out running he feels that because he isn't doing anything specific, he should get on with the dinner. He also implied that in recent months I seem to organise everything (including him) to fit in with my running.

What can I say? I guess I am a bit guilty of trying to arrange my week to accommodate my running rather than arranging my running around other things. This is only because when I used to fit running in with whatever else was going on, I invariably only ended up getting out once or twice a week. I suppose to go from that to five times a week seems a little excessive to him.

I have tried to encourage him to join me, but on the few occasions we have tried to train together we just end up disagreeing. He did a lot of athletics and running at school, and a lot of running training when he rowed competitively. Because of this, he thinks that pushing your body as hard as you can and going through the pain threshold is the only way to train. I have less experience than him, but have read widely on the subject, and have to conclude that the best way of training is to incorporate a number of 'key' sessions a week. Going for the burn every time will just result in injury, and a failure to show improvement after a while because of burn-out.

We sat down and discussed the problem the other night. He has given up on exercise for the moment so feels that he has to cook while I'm out training so that we don't waste the evening. My view is that running is 'my' time, and the time I'm out training and he's on his own should be 'his' time - therefore he shouldn't feel the need to fill this in with cooking or other domestic chores. I've also suggested that some meals (chilli, spaghetti bolognese, some pasta meals) I can make ahead. Most things we eat are relatively quick - roasted vegetables can go in the oven while I have my post-run shower, jacket potatoes take at least an hour in the oven so can cook while I run and shower. There are ways round the problem. I've agreed not to run on Saturdays as I do concede that the desire to get home from whatever we were doing in the day to fit in a run before going out for the evening was a bit unreasonable. Four runs a week is probably sufficient, especially now I'm starting to build mileage.

Sorry this is rather long, but has anyone else found problems with balancing running against other commitments/partner's needs? What solutions have you reached?


  • I suppose I'm lucky , my wife supports my running , I think it makes her proud to see hubby limping down the road on his way back from a run , covered in snot and sweat. But having said that , yes it is a struggle to get out on a regular basis and its always going to be a juggling trick when you throw in shift work and two children as well. I always throw in a timely reminder that I could always stay home and end up like her sisters fat knacker of a hubby...that seems to work....Maybe your SO could accompany you on his bike , or you could always call in at the chinese on the way home ...
  • Fortunatly this has not been too much of a problem for me, as my partner is really supportive of my running, and even turns up at most of the races I do.

    However I do run at lunchtime at work (30 - 50 sessions or stay longer at work if I do longer sessions), but I suspect that if I was running in the evening then I would probably experience similar time pressures to you Minkin. Sometimes it seems that by the time we've both got home from work then there is just time to cook, eat, and crash out in bed.

    From the other point of view, my partner has a horse and she rides 7 days a week which at the weekends takes up to half days. Until I 'discovered' running (or running discovered me?) I did get incredibly frustrated with the amount of time it consumed, and the kinds of constraints it put on what you could do at the weekends (such as no long day trips out, weekend all day boozing - not that I do that now!). Now it just means I do my long runs at the same time she's out riding (and I've got to go to horse shows to be supportive also).

    What I try to do is if I have a long run to do and it may impinge on what else is going on either get up really early and fit it in, or juggle my sessions around with what is happening at home.

    Its difficult to know what to suggest because I know if I was in a similar position I'd find it very difficult to pull back my training when I have personal goals to attain, but also I wouldn't want to continue causing friction at home.
  • It is difficult juggling - my wife is very supportive and kicks me out in runs if I don't go (though I know its so she can watch Eastenders, Corrie etc - and phone her friends)... There are times though when I have tried to arrange runs over weekends and time doesn't allow it - used to feel guilty, but now realise the odd day off doesn't make a lot of difference.

    Basically, I just fit my runs in when the time is suitable for both of us - I do a lot of morning runs, and also run/shower at lunchtimes as work.. Evenings I work around tv programmes, or go as soon as I get home - still do all the cooking once I return -the deal being, my wife does all the ironing..

    As for races, I try and make a day or weekend out of them, either staying over the night before, or/and stopping somewhere on the way home for a meal (or shopping)..

    maybe just stress the benefits that your running is having on you/both of you - health etc... no-one can argue with that
  • There is a trap that maybe your other half is falling into which is to assume that things don’t change, that priorities don’t change. This isn’t true. I have been married for nearly 13 years and know that the ability to accept change in each other’s attitudes or rather not necessarily to accept changes but to give them reasoned and rational consideration is a key element to keeping relationships ticking along. I think this rule applies to everything rather than just running per se. As an example I remember my fiancé (prior to meeting my wife) could not accept that I had to study most nights in order to get my professional qualification and that I couldn’t go out and get drunk every night (as we used to in those days!).
    It could be argued that something career related is far more important than running, but that is also a key point, it doesn’t matter whether something is trivial to your other half its important to you and he should recognize that. To rehash an old phrase “whether to run or not is not a life or death decision, its much more important than that”. Mrs H is not necessarily a big running fan, however she realizes that if I don’t run it is a source of stress for me and therefore what is the point of trying to interfere with that if it detracts from the rest of the time we have together.
    However, what really gals me about your note is the use of the word “problem” i.e. it seems to me that you have accepted the label put on your running by your partner. Ask yourself who has the problem? What exactly is the problem?
    In my experience then are very few things more unpleasant than a restrained runner! Having said that as you’re in the relatively early stages of your running career, compromise will always help – it’s a killer but getting up early in the morning to get the run in really does avoid aggravation and those early morning runs are never as bad as they seem. Can you run at lunchtimes or run home to/from work? This may require a little investment in logistics but ultimately if it doesn’t encroach on together time then its less stress all round. Also, if you are struggling to get runs in after a day out – why not take your kit with you and get out the car/off the tube a little early and run the rest of the way – lets face it if you live in London you will probably be home first.
    Ultimately, over time it has to be something that becomes as normal as cleaning your teeth and is one of the reasons why I like to exercise almost every day i.e. your partner assume that you will exercise so it ceases to become a debate.

    Finally if all else fails tell him to go stuff!
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    I can sympathise, Minkin, although my position at the moment couldn't be more different. I live alone, and my boyfriend is very supportive of my running, coming with me on his bike quite often, or finding something else to do (at the moment golf) when I am doing my long runs.

    However, thinking back to when I was married, things were rather different. Hubby was a keen golfer, Saturday afternoon pub-to-watch-the-footie, veg out in front of the telly type of guy. This was pre running days in my life, but I decided to study for exams to further my career. To do this, I would go into work an hour earlier in the morning, and stayed an hour late, to get peaceful time/environment to study. On the rare occasions when he would cook, this required lots of praise and thanks, but more often than not, I had to cook when I got home. And do the ironing, washing, cleaning, etc., etc., etc.

    The day he complained about us never having "quality" time together did come. I sat down with him and worked out how many hours he spent golfing, pubbing, watching TV (i.e. ignoring me), etc., and the hours I spent cooking, cleaning, gardening, doing DIY, etc. I suggested that if he spent some of his "leisure" time doing stuff around the house, we would have lots of time to spend together. It worked. (Well, for a whole anyway, but that's another story!)

    Obvoiusly, your other half is much better than my ex was, as he does cook, but if you didn't run, would you be expected to cook all the time (in every relationship I have had until now, this has been the case)? If you only run 4 times a week, he's only one meal ahead of you per week anyway. I'm a great believer in sharing everything, and a lot of men (sorry guys - I know you're not all the same) assume that cooking and ironing are the sole responsibilty of the female. Keep a count of how often he cooks compared to you - I'll bet it's not "all" the time at all - it just feels like it to him.

    From someone who's been there - being unhappy in yourself is more destructive in a relationship than disagrreing about who does the washing up. If running is an important part of your life, how happy would you be if you gave it up or cut it down drastically to spend more time ironing or watching tv?
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    I think you said what I meant, but better.
  • Sorry, I should just add on the food subject there are somethings which can help.

    Firstly, if you're cooking something like a spag boll why not make twice or three times as much and freeze what you don't eat.

    Secondly, as you've already identified, if you're doing something simple like baked spuds, put them in the oven just before you go out the door and they'll be ready when you come back.

    Finally, be a bit of a bucket. Generally I don't care what I eat during the week and would sooner graze during the day (on fruit, sandwiches etc) and then maybe have some beans on toast for dinner. Probably only have 2-3 "proper" dinners a week.
  • My wife's less than supportive stance comes from me virtually taking up running to do London last year. I agree that training and prepartion for that took over my life because I had no experience of how else to do it. Not that it had too much an impact on our lives together as all my weekday runs were before she'd got up each morning.

    I'm training for a half next month and I'm keeping it as low key as possible so that it doesn't impact on her too much. If I did another marathon (at present a divorce issue) I would know how to do it less obtrusively. Mrs OB is quite a high flyer professionally so her work takes her away from me more than my running takes me away from her and I'm supportive of that and am Mr Domesticity personified!!

    I think part of it is her concern that as a wrinkly I'll peg out and leave her without knowing where the insurance policies are!!
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Thanks everyone - I think I should just clarify that my partner is a really great, caring and supportive person and he doesn't view my running as a 'problem', he just doesn't want both our lives to be organised to fit around it all of the time, which is fair enough. He does just as much around the house as I do and is much better at ironing shirts than I am! Consequently he irons my shirts as well as his, and as a trade I iron his trousers, which he hates doing. I think we have a well-balanced relationship. I think probably what doesn't help is that at the moment he is just not motivated to exercise so feels guilty that he isn't doing anything while I'm training regularly. I know that he will start again eventually. I have also tended to bore him to tears recently, analysing my training to the nth degree! I've tried to stop this as I now realise that running is only really interesting to other runners!

    The key really is compromise. He certainly doesn't want me to stop running (not that I would!) and maybe I'll fit in the extra run that I've stopped doing on a Saturday morning before he gets up.
  • Tim

    (i) This is always a risk thats why I run!
    (ii) Buy a microwave.

    On the beans subject - I did say I had been married for 13 years - Mrs H is immune. I like to add some broccoli as well!
  • Football season starts this weekend, no problem running:
    Saturday morning while they're talking about it on tele.
    Saturday afternoon while they're at the match.
    Sunday morning, papers reading about it. Sunday afternoon watching it live on tele.
    Keep the fridge well stocked with beer he won't notice you've even gone Minkin, weekend running sorted. Now when is it on tele during the week
  • Life before miniSS running was no problem -kept going right up til a week before she was born. Then had a 7 year enforced slob out - as feeding her all night / working all day was shattering - and I couldn't get in from work and say 'hi I'm off out' - she had to be my priority.

    Then last summer I really put my foot down and went for it (running and gym sessions) and lost 3.5 of the 5 stone I'd put on.....but this was training 10 times a week (running am and gym pm).

    No end of complaints from MrSS (who used to say he'd get a visitors book for me to sign when I was at home).

    Did the FLM - but now have accepted that I can't have anywhere near as much exercise time as I'd like - so sleep less than I'd wish and get up at 5.30am most days to either run or go to the gym. Less complaints if I go out whilst they're both asleep...zzzzz
  • Nessie/martin H/and ultimately wicked witch are all spot on!!!

    My initial thoughts on this were that the other half is jealous (which you answered yourself later on in the forum)because you are actually getting off your backside and doing something and he isn't.

    Running is the one hobbie where we should be proud to be selfish because it makes us feel great and whether we like it or not we have to do it regularly to appreciate the benefits.

    Running HAS come before a relationship before for me and will do again if anybody tries to stop me doing it!
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    Minkin, I understand about your other half not taking to the constant boring analysis of heart rate/diet/fartlek. But that's what we're here for!

    But where did you find one that could iron shirts???????
  • SS, love your pic by the way.
    Lots of sensible things have already been said by others and it's good to know others have similar issues at times. I put a high priority on time to go running but like most people I've got to fit it in with kids, work and home responsibilities. I'm self employed and work a lot from home so one of the things I'm constantly doing is thinking ahead and allocating timeslots for whatever I've got to do, fitting in around clients availability, kids activities etc. I reckon women (sorry to lapse into 'women are from venus' type pop-psychology here) have an advantage is being able to multi-task in this way. However running is a definite mono-focused activity, you actually do have to physically remove yourself from other responsibilities to do it. So for me it's doubly important because I have such little time in other areas of my life where I'm only doing one thing.
    It's come as a bit of a shock to my husband that I'm prepared to make it such a priority, it's not that it actually interferes with his life that much, but more the idea that I'm not around doing most of the thinking and organising of the family! I've fine-tuned so that I put the maximum time available with the minimum impact on other things; and I use the forum to bore on about my training since he patently is not interested, incredible I know, in the minuteae of my heart rates. He's been supportive about fitting in holidays around my marathons this year, and generally doesn't mind me going off to race so long as he's not expected to tag along every time. I pretend to compromise as much as possible whilst actually compromising very little on how many times a week I go running.
    At the end of the day only one person is going to make time for the things you want to do for yourself, and that person is you.
    BTW, my admiration to all of you who can get up at 5 am to go running...
  • Actually I think the thing that is most annoying to MrsH is that I'm generally tired - I don't work particularly short days (usually in the office from 7 'til 7) then get home - run - eat dinner - bed. Then at weekends, after a long run or race, spend a lot of time sitting!

    So I admire those who have the energy for anything else!
  • I had to compromise with other 1/2.
    i wanted to have my cake and eat it but there are two in my relationship so now i train in my lunch time mon-fri, take a rest day on sats and do a long session on a sun.
    all is bliss, can get dodgy on hols though, still not quite worked happy medium out yet.
  • I'm going to print off this thread. There's an MD thesis woven through it. My own circumstances are echoed repeatedly here and I deliberately stopped running between the London Marathon and the beginning of July because the family and I agreed that my training was eating too much into "our" time. I work from 9am until 7pm most days as well as a bit of moonlighting (my husband doesn't go out to work - his health isn't brilliant and having one parent at home is useful with four junior-school-age kids, two of whom are autistic) and do a lot of the domestic tasks, and have other interests, so time really is limited.

    But I like to run, I'm a nicer person when I run, and my family are, on the whole, supportive. In fact, yesterday we sat down to have a browse and a cuppa in a bookshop and Mr V-rap came back with a heap of ordnance survey maps to help me plan my runs and climbs when we go to Wales. His agenda may have been to ensure I don't stray too far from the steam railways, but I was pleasantly surprised nonetheless.

    I've tried to relieve my guilt by having a trade-off - he can go out and do some form of exercise for however long I spend running - but he's spotted that as an attempt to whittle down his gut and isn't taking me up on it. Shame!

    Cheesr, V-rap.

  • I take my hat off to all you with small children as mine were in their teens when I started to run so it didn't create too many problems in who was going to look after them.

    However, like many my partner does not run and while he supports me fully, he certainly does not want to spend 'our' time talking running. He will come to races if I ask, but normally would prefer to watch football, ref or go fishing, which is fine by me. We do cycle together, normally through the summer months so some exercise time is together.

    Also, with my children being that much older they can quite easily grab themselves something to eat until either me or my husband fixes dinner. They could also fix dinner if they so wished, I think that's more my wish!

    At the end of the day I think in any relationship time needs to be made for each partner to have their own individual space and how they chose to spend it is up to them. In our cases running!
  • Vrap, I've often wondered how you fit your training in with 4 kids and a demanding job; I still take my hat off to you that you do things like train for marathons. I think I notice the slightest bit of wistfulness in some of these threads that our partners don't necessarily take as much interest or support us as much as we'd like them to.
    Finally, Hilly, how can you have teenagers when you only look about 17??

  • Cheers Laura, the glasses hide the lines!
  • Oh also Laura I started very young!
  • Laura, I'm really very privileged when it comes to being able to train. Although my hours are long, there's sometimes an hour or two in the middle of the day when I can snatch a run and a shower. My family are supportive, it's culturally acceptable for me to run (I really feel for the unsupported single mothers and the Muslim women, both of whom feature large in my practice area), and I earn enough not to have to worry about where the next pair of running shoes is coming from.

    There are plenty of people, especially women, for whom the thought of even such an accessible sport as running is no more than a pipe-dream.

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • That's so true and worth bearing in mind when moaning about lack of support. Like you I enjoy lots of freedom - financial, cultural etc that many women don't even in the UK. I've noticed the conspicuous absence of black runners at the events I go to, for example.
    Anyway, with tonight's news it all seems rather trivial doesn't it?
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