Female Endurance Athletes Are Just Like Other Women (Only Not Really)

When our alarm clocks rang before 6 AM this morning, KMN and I both popped out of bed, threw on our running gear, powered up our Garmins, headed outside, and began to run.  One block later, we separated: Me for one last super-long trail run (28 miles) before my 50K, and him for an 8 mile tempo run.  As we parted ways, I said, “Happy Anniversary.  Thanks for understanding.  I’ll see you for dinner.”

Because, you know, any normal girl might want to spend a little time with her husband on their anniversary.  A morning run together might be sweet, ya know?  But I have a race.  And a training plan.  And paces.  (So does he.)  And most importantly?  I’m married to a man who gets all that.

It all started It all became official four years ago today (more or less, give or take 12 time zones), when this happened:

Photo Credit: J&J Photography

Photo Credit: J&J Photography

I’m a lucky gal.  KMN is one of the most compassionate, thoughtful (as in, he really thinks about things), gentle, hard-working, and insightful people I know.  He supports, encourages, and inspires me every day.  He believes in my dreams as much as – and sometimes more than – I do.  And he makes me want to be a better person.  I am blessed to have found such a terrific life partner.


But despite the above kissy picture, I definitely can’t fill an entire post with romantic mush and wedding photos (sweaty post-workout photos are more my style).  *cue perfect segue*  And so, as an acknowledgement of all that my husband puts up with from me and my crazy hobbies, I present to you all:

10 Reasons Female Endurance Athletes Are Just Like Other Women (Only Not Really)
[A Tribute and “Thank You!” to our significant others.]

1. We love spandex and tight fitting clothes!  Unless, of course, we’re actually at home to see you, in which case we’ll most likely be wearing sweatpants and an old race T-shirt.

2. We need our *ahem*beauty*ahem* time in the bathroom.  This critical time is usually within 10 minutes of returning from a run.

3. We’d love to tell you about our day.  But be aware that 8 minutes of our 10 minute description may be spent dissecting the highs and lows of a morning workout that was over before 7 AM.

4. We like to smell good.  It’s just that we define “good” as “not like soggy gym clothes, locker room, or even faintly of chlorine – as long as you don’t get too close to our hair”.  Note: If we showered before we joined you for dinner, then we are considering our smell to be “good”, and we are ready to go someplace “nice” for dinner.

5. Our other hygiene habits are also excellent.  We always use our shirts, arm sleeves, or gloves if we need to blow our noses while running, and if we pee while on the bike, we always check to make sure no one is behind us first.

6. We know how to party.  If by “party” you mean go to bed before 10 PM so we can get up at 5 AM for a workout.  And we definitely like fancy girly drinks, like Nuun.  And those capsules of white powder scattered in any pouch or pack we might have on a workout?  Salt tabs.  I’ve got a great supplier, if you’re interested….

7. Sure, we’ll make you a meal.  A bowl of quinoa topped with veggies is lunch, or dinner, or both – right?  And the leftover quinoa with yogurt and berries is DEFINITELY breakfast.  Domestic goddess-hood, people.

8. We love jewelry (that comes with a built-in GPS) and shoes (with laces and tread).

9. We sometimes “have a headache”.  Except it’s usually some inconveniently painful chafing.  Or an early workout the next day.

10. We love when you “spend the day with us”, especially when that means you get up at 4 AM with us, chauffeur us to a race site, carry and manage all our extra gear (including one emergency run back to the car because we forgot our Sport Beans/tire pump/swim cap/whatever), spend 3 hours navigating and waiting for three, 10 second glimpses of us (at least, you think it was us, but it was hard to see and everyone was moving so fast), then meet us at the finish line, where we unceremoniously demand to be taken.  For food.  NOW!!!!

Of course, while being our partner may require sacrifices on some fronts, I should also point out that there are plenty of advantages to being the significant other of a lady endurance athlete.  We enjoy outdoor adventures and know how to take care of our bodies: You won’t usually have to carry our snacks, or remind us to drink, or cheer us up that last hill on a hike.  We have endurance, and lots of energy (at least, on the days when we haven’t been on a five hour bike ride or long run or intense speed session or…).  We are strong and probably a bit competitive: We make awesome moving partners, because we’ll want to move more, bigger boxes – faster – than you.

We are very good at occupying ourselves, so don’t worry if you have to work late/travel for business/go bowling with you buddies – we love a guilt-free session with our Garmin.  We know how to support each other – a race is a race, but any other time (and even sometimes in a race), most of us want to encourage, assist, and lend a gel to a fellow athlete.  We are dedicated and motivated – we know how to make a plan and stick to it.  We understand the concept of delayed gratification (in fact, we rely on it!), and know how to work patiently and progressively toward a greater goal.  And when the going gets tough (in a workout, or in life), we know that the most important thing is to just keep going.

Final Note: I can recommend the following as a really good way to make the endurance athlete in your life swoon when she goes out for a long run: Set the air conditioning to turn on about 30 minutes before she’s due home.  Make sure there is electrolyte drink and watermelon in the fridge.  Put a Nalgene of water in the freezer for her.  Leave the water heater on, so she can jump in the shower whenever she wants.  Told you all that my husband “gets” me! 

Here's to many more anniversaries to come!

Here’s to many more anniversaries to come!

*Obviously, I’m playing off lots of stereotypes in this post.  There are all kinds of exceptions.  This is only meant to be funny, so please don’t take offense.

What’s missing from my list?

What kinds of nice things does a loved one (significant other, sibling, roommate, parent) do for you when you go out for a long, hard workout?

39 thoughts on “Female Endurance Athletes Are Just Like Other Women (Only Not Really)

  1. Grace

    Accessories. We do like a nice watch. With 50 laps and a split timer. Make it waterproof too, please. And fancy hosiery. Why, I’m afraid to tell y’all how much I spent on compression socks three weeks before marathon day.

    Happy anniversary! Where did you get that wedding dress? I spent a couple of months half-heartedly looking for one like that in bridal shops here but they were all strapless. Which baffles me considering Singaporean Chinese girls’ lack of boobage – there must be something holding all these gowns up and I think it’s glue.

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hahaha! I forgot about hosiery… 🙂

      Me, to my Mom: NOTHING strapless. I do NOT want to be horking my dress up all day on the day I get married. I’ll do it for a friend, if I’m in the wedding party. But not.at.my.wedding.

      And the whole fuss & bother of a bridal shop made me feel claustrophobic. So we headed to the fancy dress section of a few upscale department stores. More relaxed shopping experience, a dress that doesn’t look like every other wedding dress (in my opinion, which, in this case, is all that mattered), and significantly less than a fancy dress. This particular design even covered up my running bra tan lines. Bonus? I got to wear it twice! And could wear it again, if I ever have a sufficiently formal even to attend!

  2. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    Happy Anniversary! I love everything about this post and your list. I’m not sure which is my favorite, but the sometimes we’ve got a headache had me rolling on the floor! And #1 is awesome. My husband gets excited when he comes home and finds me in pretty much anything other than sweats and an old race tee. If I’m wearing jeans, he’s like, wow, you’re all dressed up!

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hahaha. My husband is pretty much used to it (and insists it’s fine by him), but the other day, I FaceTimed with my parents at a point when I was NOT wearing workout clothes. My Mom reacted in surprise: “Whoa! You’re actually wearing REAL CLOTHES?!?!”

  3. Brennan

    This is the best post ever! I’m forwarding it to hubs ASAP.

    I don’t care if it is a conglomeration of stereotypes… apparently I AM the stereotype. All of these describe me to a T.

    But most importantly… HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!! 4 years! That is so awesome! I hope you have a 100 more, all full of watermelon in the fridge and smelling “good”!

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I actually wasn’t so worried about the athletes getting fussed over the stereotypes – but rather, the non-athletes getting bothered. Anyway, no matter. As KMN says, “It’s often a stereotype for a reason!” And I am pretty much all of the stereotypes I describe, too – except I’m wearing other workout shorts instead of sweat pants. I have no idea who would wear sweatpants in Singapore. *shudder*

      Hahaha…if he keeps the fridge stocked with watermelon (I’m not even kidding when I say that this was a condition of us moving to Singapore: Air conditioning in the bedroom at night, and a non-stop supply of post-workout watermelon.), and I keep showering, I think we’ll be good to go!

  4. Jenny

    Happy Anniversary! Awesome list! Once I feel more like a distance runner again, I’m sure I’ll have things to add. In the meantime, I may pass this out to prospective suitors. You know, a sort of warning. 🙂

  5. misszippy

    I love this list! Hitting the nail on the head. I’m going to add this: give her time to take a nap after a 20-mile run (my husband always does this and I always appreciate it).

    Love your pictures, especially the kissy one. Happy anniversary!

  6. Kristen L

    Great post, Holly! So funny.

    Happy 4th Anniversary! It is so wonderful to have a partner who understands what you need — cold drinks and watermelon post run, or someone to describe in detail every aspect of your amazing (or terrible) workout. Here’s to many many more years of excellence and happiness to come!

  7. Sheila

    Love this! And yes, the spandex/sweatpants are definitely my cup of tea. Spouse: Why are you in you running clothes still? Did you not workout? Me: No I did, showered, and put clean ones on. Is that a problem?

  8. Jules

    This is a great list! Love this! Good to know I’m not alone in this especially wrt spandex and old race t-shirts! I’ve got so many ill-fitting free race shirts that they’re pretty much my staple top of choice whenever I’m at home! No.9 was too funny! 🙂

    Happy Anniversary to the both of you! Those pics are lovely! It’s really really nice to be with someone who gets the whole endurance sports thing because it does take so.much.time in your life! Hope the trainings going well and here’s too many many more happy years to the both of you!

  9. greengirlrunning

    Hahaha! LOVE this list :))
    My hubs gives me the BEST foot massages after long runs. He’s also an endurance athlete and *gets* it. He also drives to pick up my favorite salad and dessert after long runs or races. In return, when he races, I get the stomach flu and leave him on his own with our bickering kids. I’m awesome 😉

    And HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! You’ve got yourself a gem, Holly. KMN sounds like a truly sweet guy. My hubby and I are celebrating our 10th in October, but instead of running together or something cute like that, hubs wants to beat me in a trail 10k. Mmm hmm. Not going to happen.

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Whoa, foot massages?? You’ve DEFINITELY got a keeper! Even if he wants to beat you in a trail race. You show him who’s the Running Boss! 🙂

      And don’t worry, I hear he’s gearing up for a race that’s TWICE as long for next time, when you’re sure to be healthy. =)

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  11. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    Happy anniversary! Here’s a Nuun toast to many, many more! 😉

    Your list pretty much covers everything except ponytails. You have short hair so it doesn’t apply to you, but if my husband comes home from work and I’ve actually blown my hair out instead of pulling it into a tight ponytail while it’s wet, he’s like, “Wow, you look hot!”

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Ah, that’s true, Deb. Every few years I grow my hair out until it reaches ponytail length…and I ‘tail it so much that it breaks…and I have it all chopped off again. It’s a vicious cycle…that always ends the same way! 🙂

  12. Meghan

    This is so great!!! Especially the measures taken to ensure a great post-long run environment…sounds like heaven. I can only hope I’ll be as lucky as you in this department someday; congrats on your anniversary!

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hey Meghan, thanks for stopping by! I will confess that I purchased the watermelon & sports drinks; he just made sure they were sliced and cold! Teamwork is the name of the game.

      Just make sure your priorities are clear, and know that running gives you an immediate advantage – you have lots of opportunities for places to meet people, other than a bar. I have plenty of running friends who have found their partner through the random workings of the running community. And such people immediately understand the need for icy cold watermelon after a hot run! =)

  13. Meagan

    Happy Anniversary!! I loved this list, and normally I would have something funny/witty to add to it, but I am too sleepy right now. But I did thoroughly enjoy the list and was smiling all the way through it 🙂

    When Barry and I both get home from a long run, he often fixes me eggs while I get a shower. He’s so sweet.

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I use S-Caps brand. They’re reasonably priced (I mean, given the rate that I use them), and they were recommended to me awhile back by some trusted ultra friends. They work great for me (although I can’t swear another brand wouldn’t work equally well). I generally only use them for workouts >90 minutes, and take 1 approximately every 60-90 minutes, depending on what other electrolytes I’m consuming (through drinks and chews). At first, they made me super thirsty; but now I just make sure to consume plenty of water before and after taking one, and seem to do just fine. And after moving to the tropics, they became the key to eliminating my post-run-electrolyte-imbalance headaches.

  14. Logan @ Mountains and Miles

    Bahahaha….I got to #1 and I am most definitely sitting on the couch in my sweatpants and sweatshirt with an old race shirt underneath. Annnndd I don’t think I’ve showered in the past two days because I haven’t worked out…and clearly that means I’m not dirty, right?

    I would also add that one of my favorite things Zach does for me, for which I am eternally grateful, is that he will deep tissue massage my shins and calves, which is so incredibly painful and I yell and scream and curse at him…and it just makes him dig harder, which makes my legs feel THAT much better the next day =).

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Once the weather turns cool, there’s no need to shower unless you’ve done a workout. You’re in the clear. 🙂

      Hehehe…calf rubs sound AMAZING. You know he’s a keeper when he’ll rub through your yells and curses. 🙂 I used to request KMN do my feet, which always used to be tied up in knots – and the feeling (and sounds) were somewhere between “torture” and “orgasmic”. Don’t ask, I don’t even know.

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  17. Kate

    Congratulations!!! GO nuts with the mushy.

    Also – the list is most excellent. The Rake would totally agree, except, unlike KMN, he doesn’t also do it :-). I think he does appreciate the XBox time though.

    Thanks for being my perfect slice of inspiration in all ways.

    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hey, as someone who isn’t over-blogging her wedding, I suspect you’ll understand my attempts to keep mush to a minimum. 🙂

      I think I give non-running spouses of runners extra credit (if they’re good natured about their so’s activities), because they just accept them – even if they don’t “get” them!

      And that is pretty much the sweetest thing I’ve heard in the last 24 hours. I’m glad my shenanigans can provide some inspiration. I know you have 1,000 commitments, but come back and hang in the blogosphere awhile! I’ve missed you.

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