Friday, September 01, 2006

Fitness Nut + Couch Potato = Unhappiness?

Are you a marathoner while your partner is a couch potato? Does he or she make you feel guilty for getting up before the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings for your long run, and for not joining him or her for a late dinner with friends the night before?

Well, m'dears, The New York Times published an article on this kind of energy-unequal relationships. An excerpt:

Every couple has its share of thorny issues, but when the point of tension is that one partner craves exercise and the other doesn’t, it can strain even the healthiest relationship, according to psychologists, fitness instructors and marriage therapists. Not only does the exerciser frequently cut into the couple’s time together. But unlike more frivolous diversions like, say, knitting or playing “Madden NFL” online, it is difficult for an aggrieved partner to complain about another’s healthy activity without sounding like a saboteur.

That Americans laud fit people’s ability to get up and go, and look down on the flabby as weak-willed, also can put a strain on athletically mismatched couples.

Some people even avoid relationships with those who abhor exercise:

Not exercising is a deal breaker for some single people. “I would have a hard time respecting someone who didn’t respect her body in the same way I do,” said Alex Hahn, a 40-year-old lawyer in Boston, who works out roughly 10 hours a week.

Tired of having to justify herself, Rebecca Thurman, 39, a massage therapist and marathon runner in Atlanta, says she will no longer date a man who doesn’t prize fitness.

“They don’t understand why you need to work out two or more hours a day,” she said, “or why you eat the way you do, or why you go to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym, or why you can’t do late-night dinner parties, or why you have a personal trainer, coach, massage therapist and chiropractor on payroll.”

Once she had dinner with a man who said: “How can you go out and run for three hours? It just seems so boring!” (That was their only date.)

Go, she said: Okay, having a personal trainer, coach, massage therapist and chiropractor is a bit much. Though I would love having a coach. As for me, I"m fairly lucky in that E. likes to exercise, though not half as much as I do. I dragged him and the dog on a 7-mile run yesterday. Well, E. ran about 6 miles, then walked the last mile or so.

The stats:

.25: Warm-up at 10:28 pace
1.25: 8:25
2.25: 7:46 (!!)
3.25: 8:34
4.25: 8:40
5.25: 8:25
6.25: 9:36 (recovery)
7.00: 8:35

That was speedy for all of us, esp. in the high altitude. My nose is still running and I'm still sneezing, but my energy is coming back.


  1. Nice run and great article! If I were dating at all I would probably not try to forge a relationship with a couch potato. At this stage in life there are enough issues between 2 people to deal with. Having to justify my exercise schedule would be one too many.

  2. yowza! NICE times. (don't i qualify as your coach? I'm always telling you what to do!)

    and thanks for reminding me again why i'm single!

  3. Yes, I went through this, and have to admit it was a cause for the marriage to break up. And it has taken me quite a long time to get over that guilt trip--to the point where once divorced I hardly worked out for years, probably because of the guilt. I have been inclined to not become interested in or involved with others not on the same page as me however, and am happy to say that my head is now on straight and I am with someone who is involved with IM, which is leading me to that direction as well.

  4. If my husband started running, who would watch the kids while I train?

    17 years ago I married an active, outdoorsy person who's now an achy, tired, computer game nut. I only started running less than 7 years ago. I try not to go overboard on the training and he appreciates how happy it makes me.

    Relationships evolve or die. I can choose to be grateful for who I have or disappointed. Choices, choices...

  5. I only started to take running seriously after watching my husband train for his first marathon. I figured the only way for me to spend time with him during his training months was to take it up myself. This is coming from the original couch potato. But it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. It helps to have an understanding partner, on both sides.