The Good, The Weird, and The Smelly: 7 Things to Know Before Marrying a Runner

Thinking about marrying a runner? It has its benefits: our goal-driven personalities help us succeed in other areas of life. We have endurance, helpful for… extracurricular activities…

But of course, there are drawbacks. Like when you accidentally catch a whiff of the running shoe pile:

Smelly Shoes

Today I want to change gears (paces?) and share a fun look at what you need to know before marrying a runner.

This is a guest post by John Sifferman, who writes the blog Physical LivingTake it away, John!


The positive qualities of runners are nearly endless: most of us are focused, driven, confident and tenacious. We’re constantly trying to better ourselves, which make us optimistic about the future.

Of course, runners have their perks and their quirks. We can be stubborn at times and often, we’re just disgusting. Raise your hand if you’ve ever blown your nose in your shirt!

If you’re seriously thinking about marrying a runner, there are some things you should be aware of before you say “I do” (like our post-long run stench).

#1 We live in our own little world

And you’re just going to have to accept that. Sometimes, it will seem like we’re always thinking about our next run or the next big race, or how we can tweak such-and-such in our plan. It’s not because we have a one-track-mind. It’s because we’ve got vision, and we’re big on planning.

And it might not make sense to non-runners, but we actually need to run. We might even get grumpy when we don’t. So we need you to support us. And that means being okay with us being away, sometimes.

It doesn’t mean we love you any less. But sometimes, we just need some time alone.

You’ll also learn that we speak a whole other language. Be willing to learn the lingo or be perpetually perplexed as we spout off acronyms like PR, LSD, PW, and BQ. It’s how we roll.

#2 Being stubborn is just part of our nature

Can you blame us? How else do you think we manage to finish the last few miles of a race when our whole body feels like it’s on fire? It’s how we get up at the crack of dawn to run. It’s how we maintain the grueling demands of training every day. We just keep going.

We’re some of the most resilient people in the world of athletics, but that comes with some downsides. For instance, we can be resistant to change. Or, we can be so committed to something – like running – even at great personal expense (e.g. spending tons of money on running clothes, race fees, gels, and shoes).

#3 We’re obsessive and we’re okay with that

It just comes with the territory. You’re either “all in” or you’re not. You can’t “sort of” be a runner. If you’re going to put in week after week of high mileage – and constantly strive to get better – you’ve got to be a little obsessed!

That makes us very detail-oriented and maybe even weird. Here are a few things to understand:

  • We don’t like to miss a run…ever.
  • We know all of our personal bests down to the tenth of a second (but we’ll probably forget your friend’s names even after the 8th time we’ve met them…)
  • We know the exact location of one mile from our front door – in any direction

#4 We’re masochists (kind of)

No. Not the masochists you’re probably thinking of. This isn’t 50 Shades of Grey, you weirdo.

But all runners have to deal with some amount of aches, pains, and misery – and keep going anyway. We won’t let some pain stop us. We won’t quit, even if it means having to suffer.

And learning to embrace that is just part of being a runner.

If we had to skip a run for every blister, we’d never run! And then it wouldn’t be fun to tell our friends, “Oh, today was just an easy 10 miler.”

#5 We’re disgusting

Runners are weird

You know those magazine cover photos of very attractive runners who are just glistening in the sun? Well, forget about it. We’re gross.

After a hard race, we won’t think twice about burping, farting, or shooting a snot rocket onto the pavement. We might even puke. Sometimes, we just hope we can make it to the bathroom in time.

And we’re certainly not above hiding behind a tree. The world is our bathroom! “Shame” waved bye-bye to us a long time ago.

Oh, and there will be smells. Our bodies and our clothes will reek – frequently. Expect big, stinky laundry piles that are soiled with sweat, spit, snot, blood, pee, and maybe even some poop. If you cannot possibly comprehend how this is possible, talk to a runner. They’ll fill you in on all the icky details.

And don’t even get me started on the feet. Yes, the feet. They may be blistered, bruised, have blackened toenails, or even missing toenails. And this person might ask you for a foot rub from time to time!

You’ll not only be sharing a home with this lovely person, but also a bathroom.

#6 We’re going to get hurt (and we need you to get us ice cream)

Your stubborn, obsessive, masochistic significant other will probably get injured and won’t be able to run for awhile.

When this happens, it’s safe to say that their lives will be thrown out of balance. And we’ll need you to be there for us when we’re angry, confused, or depressed (or a combination of all three!).

So if we’re complaining or blowing off steam, it’s because we trust you – don’t take it personally. Sometimes, running is the way we manage our own stress. And when we can’t run, we don’t have that stress reliever.

So bring us some ice cream and support and we’ll love you for it.

#7 We run because we want to be better people

Self-improvement is one of our finest qualities. And that improvement isn’t just about us either. While the health and fitness benefits are great, most of us run because we want to be the best version of ourselves possible.

This helps us be a better partner, parent, friend, and even employee. This thread of self-improvement runs rampant in the running community. After all, running is a natural catalyst for personal transformation.

And that’s great, since your future partner is always looking to improve in every area of their life!

And it makes sense because running is a natural catalyst for personal transformation. So, get used to the idea of being married to a real go-getter, for better or worse, ‘til death do us part.

Final Pre-Marriage Counseling for Runners

You don’t need to love running to love a runner. And in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it’s wise to base your decision to marry someone on whether one or both of you are runners. At least, I wouldn’t give it much weight. But at the very least, you should know what you’re getting yourself into first.

And hey, running can be a great way to spend quality time together. But even if you choose to forgo the pleasure (or is it pain?) of being a runner, there will be some definite advantages to being married to one. I’ll tell you one thing. There will never be a dull moment!

So, don’t be afraid to take a runner to be your lawfully wedded partner.

About The Author

John Sifferman is a health-first fitness coach who owns the popular fitness website After chronic running injuries landed him in physical therapy for nearly three years, and being unable to run for much longer, John decided to take matters into his own hands and changed everything about the way he runs.

He’s been a (mostly) barefoot, injury-free runner since 2009, and has been loving every minute of it. You can read his article, 100 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Running, to learn what he’s picked up along the way. John lives with his wife, children, and Akita dog in beautiful New Hampshire, where he enjoys running the back roads and trails of his community.

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