Running with a friend is a great motivator, but when that friend is your significant other, your best friend, the love of your life, there may be a few bumpy spots along the road to a more toned body and a healthy cardiovascular system. To promote heart health in more ways than one, these 10 running tips will keep you from stepping on any toes.
Don't Forget the Foreplay
Take time to warm-up before you start your run. Just because he's standing at the end of the driveway looking back at you with a scowl on his face doesn't mean that you should risk pulling a muscle by not giving yourself the 5 to 10 minutes it takes to get ready for the stress and labor of running.
Oh, and don't forget to take it easy during the last mile of your run in order to cool-down. The longer and harder you run, the longer your cool-down period should take. It'll remove waste products from your muscles and help your body recover from the increased exertion.
Leave Your Competitive Spirit at Home
Don't make the mistake of thinking you're still in high school and overindulge in sports-related competition. Even if you don't pull a muscle, you may hurt the relationship. There's a good chance that the two of you aren't all that evenly matched, so take it easy and use some common sense when it comes to "Let's race," "I dare you" or any other variation on a race-themed outing.
Keep Each Other Motivated
One big advantage to running with a friend is that you have a backup source of motivation when you just don't feel like suiting up and heading out. The nice thing about having your significant other as a running mate is that your source of encouragement (guilt) and inspiration (shame) is just a few feet away. Take advantage of it. It's a good thing. Really -- a good thing.
Know Your Partner
A soulmate isn't necessarily a sole mate, and running with someone you love isn't a guarantee that he's as fit or fired up as you are. If you aren't evenly matched running partners, there are some workarounds that can make your couples-running productive for both of you. Do your "speed work" at a track where you can each go at your own pace but stay in same general proximity. Plus, you can always warm up and cool down together. On your easier recovery days, you can run side-by-side anywhere -- recovery runs are supposed to be done at a casual, aerobic pace anyway.
Understand the Rules
There will be rules and guidelines whether you're running on the sidewalk, on a track or in a public park. Learning the running rules where you'll be exercising is the best way to avoid embarrassing yourself and inconveniencing others. This isn't just polite behavior, either. There may be city ordinances in your area that could lead to expensive citations for doing things like running in the street or cutting across private property.
You may be asked to run on a specific path, single file or only at certain times of the day. Running may not require a license, but like driving a car, using public paths and thoroughfares is a privilege, so give running venues the respect they deserves. If you study the route ahead of time you can prevent arguments about where to go next - and avoid hefty citations for running in the wrong spots!
Keep it to 25 Words or Less
So, it's a beautiful morning and the sun is shining. This would be a great time to have that relationship talk as you huff and puff up the hill on your cozy, tandem run. Right? So wrong. Nothing is going to irritate a dedicated runner more than a serious conversation during intense, focused exercise time. When your heart rates are high, attention should be placed on maintaining the pace and nothing more. Think of these as Zen moments, and keep the chat to a minimum. A heads up about a low-lying branch, broken glass in the path or the approach of a hungry looking dog is OK, otherwise, keep it short and sweet.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
This is a delicate one. There are always distractions on a good run. Bunnies, squirrels -- a passing jogger with a bodacious bod or amazing biceps -- wait, were you checking someone out just then? You are so deceived if you think a tandem run with your beloved is a good time to be enjoying compelling scenery that has nothing to do with fall foliage or small, furry rodents. If you know what's good for you, keep your eyes on the path ahead at all times.
Does My Butt Look Big? -- And Other Absurdities
You can be a little insecure about your stride, your shoe choice, your endurance and even your posture, but don't make the mistake of asking questions designed to illicit reassuring complements during a run. The condition of your butt, arms, legs, core or any other body part should stay out of the conversation. When you feel the burn, it should be about establishing a new personal best and not because your spouse just said something unintentionally insulting because he had his mind on other things.
No, We're Not There Yet
Not every runner has impressive reserves of dedication. You may be into running more for the camaraderie and together time than for the physical bennies. Whatever your motivation, it's not OK to project your lack of interest or even your desperation for it to be over to your running mate. Some no-no's are: Asking to stop for ice cream or a donut on the way home; complaining; stopping to pick flowers; complaining; breaking stride to take pictures or talk to strangers; complaining.
No One Signed on to Be a Pack Mule
You may have to carry water to stay hydrated, keep your car or house keys somewhere, bring pepper spray for protection, and retain other important essentials, like identification, but making your partner carry everything around because he or she has a pocket, fanny pack or other handy carryall isn't fair. You should only take along as much stuff as you can carry easily yourself. If you're planning a picnic or other activity to coincide with a run, arrange your schedule so you can head back to home base after exercise and before everything else. You can pack up then and freshen up, too. Your partner will thank you.
The top 10 tips for running with your dog can help keep you and your dog happy. Visit HowStuffWorks to see the top 10 tips for running with your dog.
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