I’m going to assume you’re a runner. Otherwise, why would you be reading this post? When you’re a runner and your partner starts running, it’s easy to get carried away.
Just think of all the races you can go to together. Weekends will turn into joint training sessions. There will be no more complaints about sweaty kit or muddy trainers. Or groans when you get up early for a run before work.
But before you get too carried away, be warned. If your partner’s enthusiasm for running is going to survive the next few weeks, you’ll need the skills of a diplomat.
Here are the things you must never do when your partner starts running…
Tell Them You’ll Be Their Personal Trainer
Trust me on this one. Being a personal trainer for your partner almost never works.
Even if you’re a couple who do everything together, taking on the mantle of your partner’s coach will be a step too far.
It’s just too easy for coaching to be seen as criticism – don’t go there. Be upbeat about your partner’s running but go easy on the advice.
Say That’s A Good Idea You Need To Lose Some Weight
I don’t really need to add to this. It should be obvious it’s a big no. If it isn’t I’m spelling it out.
Doesn’t matter if your partner’s male or female, careless comments about weight will always spark arguments.
Buy Them Running Clothing (Unless They Ask For It)
When I ran an outdoor store, a set of running clothing was returned after Christmas once with an irate note: “Ungrateful wife insists I return this excellent running clothing”. You can tell the couple didn’t have a great Christmas.
It’s just too much pressure. Your partner is a beginner runner. The first few weeks will be tough. The last thing they want is to feel obligated to keep running because you’ve bought them some expensive kit.
As for buying kit with the words “If it’s too small, I’m sure you can lose weight and fit into it”, this happened to me once. It’s an ex-relationship.
Run Alongside Your Partner Encouraging Them
What’s wrong with this? Surely encouragement is good.
We’ve all done it, encouraged another runner. But it’s one thing getting a “well done” as some top runner passes you in a race. It’s a bit different to have someone bouncing along effortlessly next to you saying “well done”, “keep going” or “you can do it”.
It’s so easy to sound just a little bit condescending. You’ve been warned…
Run Ahead To The Top Of A Hill Then Double Back To Give Encouragement
I’ve talked about this one to lots of runners and everybody hates it. It’s just rubbing it in that you’re a better runner.
If you must do it, just don’t be surprised if your partner comes out with a few choice words. Try and run at your partner’s pace or if you must run ahead, wait at the top.
Make Comments About How Slowly Your Partner Runs
Who would do this? Well, you’d be surprised. Maybe not on purpose but little comments can slip in.
There’s the “you don’t mind if I go out again when we get back” or my favorite “this is quite a good recovery pace after my hard run this morning”.
A helpful book, encouragement to join a beginners’ running group, or just giving your partner a little bit of space to work their way through Couch To 5K, can be the best way to provide support when your partner starts running…