The upside: It will probably make us both better runners.
Less than a month after our wedding this past May, my wife informed me that she was seeking out another man.
“I think I want to try a different training plan – maybe with a different coach,” Maura told me during what I can only assume was a rerun of Fixer Upper on HGTV. (My choice, not hers.)
I felt a little blindsided, but in a way it was right in front of me the whole time. Since we’ve known each other – meeting at the local running store five years ago and building a relationship from there – each person has supported the other through running milestones. I remember calling her and talking for hours to work out my nerves before my first marathon in Philadelphia. One of my proudest moments was seeing her cross the Runner’s World Half Marathon (in Pennsylvania, USA) finish line in her first attempt at the distance – well under her goal time.
Yes, those memorable moments stand out. But it’s those times in-between that can wear down patience over time. Specifically, I’m talking about training. I’ve always given her our Runner’s World training plans to guide her over a 12-16 week training cycle. They’re effective and keep you on track, but one thing that happened was I essentially morphed into her coach for each race.
Almost weekly, we’d go over what was to come for her upcoming training schedule. Long runs on Saturday morning meant a simple veggie sandwich and soup would be best for her stomach the night before. We’d plan out morning interval sessions on the local track. Some workouts we would do together, but we respected that each person needed to train at their own pace to meet their goals. If she ran on her own I’d get the immediate text of, “I did my 12 kilometres!”
But that’s where things often got tricky – after the run. Maybe the morning was hot and humid, and Maura ended up doing five kilometres instead of eight. Or instead of eight short hill repeats she only had time for half of those before work. I (being an idiot) would often veer toward “coach mode” over “supportive fiancé” and question what happened. As you can guess, rarely did that go over well.
This coach mindset could easily spill over into what would normally be easy runs together – times that before were reserved for conversations about our lives, the wedding and anything but running. But when the pendulum swung more toward hitting the best splits on our Garmins than being out on a quiet towpath together, I should have seen the writing on the wall for my coaching duties.
I did a little bit of hemming and hawing to convince Maura that I could be a better coach…that she shouldn’t leave me. But in the end she found a local coach that already has her motivated and primed to do her second marathon this fall much stronger than her first. She checks in with him often by email and looks forward to the workouts to come.
I am also seeing some benefits from my firing. While I want her to get the most out of each workout, I know that somebody else is there if she has questions or a workout needs adjusted. This has allowed me to focus more on what I want out of my running while training for my own marathon because I know she’s in good hands.
The short, easy runs are back to where they were. It’s quite often we’ll grab a coffee afterward or settle down with a breakfast of loaded pancakes at home. And the pressure is off on balancing my two worlds.
And I know seeing her achieve all of her lofty running goals – even under another man’s guidance – will feel even more special knowing I can just be the husband who’s waiting to hug her at the finish line.