Sweat Together: A Valentine’s Day Ode To Running Love

running love

Our family on our wedding day (Photo: Lev Kuperman)

I’m a newlywed. My husband, Phil, and I have been married for six months and we’ve been together for five years. Running played a large part in our courtship, our engagement, and has been a mainstay of our relationship. We love to run, and whenever we can, we run together. They say that couples who sweat together stay together. I hope it’s true. Here’s to running love.

He’s much faster than me with his 3:03 marathon personal best; mine is 4:28. But that doesn’t stop us. Here’s how we keep on running side-by-side.


For workouts, we often do one of four things:

1) Run on side-by-side treadmills at the gym.

2) Attend track workouts together, where he runs in the fastest group and I run in the slowest.

3) Head out for runs together, warm up together and then set a meeting time and place post-run to cool down and head home together. That way he can run his speed and I can run mine, but we still feel like we’re working out together.

4) Schedule his easy runs to coincide with my tempo runs so that we can actually run together. He chats happily away and I grunt and nod. Yes, I get annoyed with him when he asks me questions that require elaborate answers near the end of the workout when I’m really huffing, puffing and unable to speak in full sentences. You’d think after five years of these type of runs he’d learn that I’m very grumpy at the end of tempo runs. He doesn’t. But if I’m still annoyed with him in another 50 years for doing that same thing, I’ll consider myself a lucky lady.

running love

Running Disney’s Princess Half Marathon as Cinderella and Prince Charming! (Photo: brightroom)


For races, this is our running couple strategy:

1) Pick races we’re both interested in running. New York City Marathon? No brainer. Chicago Marathon in my hometown? Easy Peasy. Montreal Half Marathon in his? Done and done. But sometimes it’s harder than you’d think. There are a few races I’ve tried selling him on; but he just won’t buy. And the reverse is also true. He’s mainly interested in running large, big-city fall marathons and I’d love to run some smaller ones or (gasp) in the spring. But we compromise. He comes to Disney races with me, dresses in costume and runs by my side, and I let him pick which marathon we run every year. Seems like a great trade to me.

2) Run races on our own when the other person isn’t interested or available. I’m a fledgling triathlete. He has no interest in the sport. So I go ahead and do them with another friend. He’s done mud-runs and urban-adventure races without me for the same reason. There’s an added bonus to doing the occasional race without each other—we actually get to cheer each other on! I cheered him to a PR at the Brooklyn Half Marathon when I wasn’t running, he cheered me on at the NYRR Mini 10K. That’s almost as much fun as running them together.

3) Mix up our PR attempt races—where we start in different corrals and run at different speeds—with fun runs where we actually run together. I think we’ve both found Disney races a perfect outlet for this. Having run them apart and together, we both prefer running them side-by-side. I certainly appreciated it at the 2012 Princess Half Marathon when he paced me to a PR and at the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon, where we stopped for 30+ photos and just had fun covering the distance with no goals in mind.

running love

Snorkeling together

Other Sports

We both love a myriad of sports outside of running, and not all of them are the same. He belongs to an Ultimate Disc league and I do not. Though he talked me into playing one game for his team—despite the fact that I can neither throw, nor catch a frisbee—when they were down a female and would have to forfeit the game. For the record, I ran some mean defense and helped the team win that way. He also rock climbs and downhill skis. I do not.

At the same time, I’m graduating from competing in sprint triathlons to my first Olympic distance race this summer, which will mean logging some laps in the pool and bike time without him.

But we’ve also taken up some other sports together as well. We learned to sail over the course of three summers, culminating in our honeymoon where we sailed ourselves around the islands of Tonga. We started taking polo lessons intermittently for a fun change of pace. And we’ve hiked and canoed and cross-country skied along with yoga classes and swimming laps sprinkled in with our running.

Running Love

So here’s to my husband and runners in love everywhere. I hope it’s true that couples who sweat together stay together. It’s certainly more fun than running alone.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


02 2013