Marriage the Marathon – One Marathon and One Year Later.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  Barack Obama.

One year ago today, I posted Marriage the Marathon, in which I compared the ups and downs of training for a marathon to being in a long-term(10+ years) marriage.  If you haven’t read it, you may want to do that before you read the rest of this.  One marathon and one more year of marriage later, it seems like a good time to reflect, as I do every year in my anniversary month.

I don’t like to ever pretend that I have a “perfect” marriage, and I know that no one who has been married for over ten years does.  I have been very fortunate in that my marriage has never been challenged with any of the top stressors such as financial burden, major health crisis, and infidelity that cause many marriages to dissolve.  I’ve never had to see if we could weather through those storms.  Despite that, in almost 21 years together and 17 years married, we have had ups and downs….days when you can’t imagine your life without the other person, and days when you’d like to kick them out…there has always been love, but there hasn’t always been like.

My husband and I have fairly different temperaments, and for years, I tried to change parts of his personality that I felt were the main contributor to our down times.  But the old saying that you can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself turned out to be true after all.  In the last 4 years, I changed myself.  Only I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  I didn’t set out to change myself…. I just put on my shoes and started running… That journey to becoming a runner has changed me almost as much as motherhood has….certainly more than becoming a doctor has….And over the last few years as I changed, the effects trickled down and my husband changed.  He is a different person today than he was just two years ago.

I was listening to a podcast on Another Mother Runner in which they were interviewing Amby Burfoot, a long-time Runner’s World editor about his book First Ladies of Running, which profiles 22 groundbreaking women runners.  They asked him about couples whose marriages survived the wife being an elite runner and those that did not, and whether he noted any correlation with whether the husband was also a runner.  Amby observed, “The biggest thing that happens is not the fact that one’s spouse is not a runner, per se, that you’re not sharing miles on the road.  The biggest thing that happens is running can change all of us substantially, emotionally, psychologically, goals, and outlooks, and I think that emotional and psychological independence that we gain from running and a stronger belief in ourself, I think that can test marriages that aren’t built on a firm foundation of mutual independence and mutual support.”  My husband is not a runner, but our marriage has always been built on mutual support, and as the years go by and we both evolve, we have increasingly realized the importance of mutual independence.

As I started running, I finally had the time to sort through everything inside that I hadn’t dealt with.  I started writing.  I became stronger.  I gained a new level of confidence.  I reached out to people.  I made myself vulnerable and put myself in situations that I would never have put myself in before.  I ran towards sanity, I ran towards happiness, I ran towards strength, and I ran towards community.  I never asked my husband to run with me.  He did do my very first half-marathon with me out of his own choice and didn’t like it…running was not for him.  But over the last few years, as he saw me increasingly evolve and try more things, he did as well.  And the more we started to have independent lives and interests, the more we craved checking-in with each other, the more we craved time alone together.  Over the last couple of months, he started going to yoga with me.  Five years ago, if you had told me that my husband would start doing yoga, I would have looked at you with the same disbelief that I would have if you told me that I’d run a marathon.  I usually go to yoga about twice a week ….running is still my primary four to five day a week escape.  My husband has started to do yoga on his own, more days than I am.  I’ll walk into a room and catch him practicing an arm balance.  Just the other night, he told me that three times last week he fell asleep while listening to a guided meditation.  What???? Who is this man??

I ran my first marathon…that was a finish line I was determined to cross, but I still don’t have any guarantees about how the marathon of my marriage will end….whether or not death do us part will be the finish line or something else.  I’m not an expert on marriage or running…. this is just where I’m at now.  I know that there have been many years and miles when it has felt like what I would imagine running on “Heartbreak Hill” at the Boston marathon would be like.  As for this last year, which was mile 17, and going into 18, we both think it’s been our best mile…for this mile, we have been running in unison rather than in relay….we’re on a smooth downhill coast…. exhilarated and enjoying the wind together.

**Exciting news:  I’m going to be in the print June edition of Women’s Running Magazine, which will be on newsstands May 17th.  You can find me in two places in the issue.  I have a piece I wrote called “I Am A Runner” that will be on the last page called “Parting Shot”.  This is my first piece in print.  I’m proud of the piece and very excited.  They are also featuring me in their column “Blogger On The Run”, which will be in the first ten pages or so of the magazine.  Look for me in newsstands, or if you are a subscriber, you will receive the June issue in the mail soon.  Also, I don’t put all my online pieces for them in the body of my blogs, but I do update my “Media” tab with everything I write for them.  You may enjoy my latest online piece here:  Why Yoga Is The Yin To This Runner’s Yang.  


My husband and I before a recent Jake yoga class




About Paria

Runner, mother, pediatrician, blogger

23 comments on “Marriage the Marathon – One Marathon and One Year Later.

  1. OH MY GOD!!! You’re going to be in the PRINTED magazine? That is beyond cool! You’re already basically famous by having so many articles published on but this is next level awesomeness.

    I love this post so much and it made me realize even more ways running has changed me. I always have said that running has made me more confident and self-assured but I didn’t realize it has also made me more outgoing and has made me more of a community-minded person. I am now “connected” and plugged into an entire community because of running. This is a HUGE change because back in the day I was a total loner. Your writing is always so insightful and it helps me to see things I didn’t see before.

    Can’t wait to grab next month’s issue and dive into it!

    • “Famous” a massive overstatement, but it is exciting so thank you. Running has definitely made me more outgoing…I was always outgoing with people I already knew, but it has made me more outgoing in new situations with new people as well.

  2. First of all – congratulations on your first printed piece!!! That’s so exciting!!! I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for it!

    In this article I love the bit about being independent. I definitely my independence growing the more I ran, and I did worry some about how it could affect our relationship (aside from all the literal hours spent running!). My husband has confessed in some quieter moments about how proud he is of me, which I would expect, but I was more touched when he told me was inspired by me. I’ve seen him come around (albeit VERY slowly) and some of his habits changing, some things he doesn’t complain about that he used to. It’s a pretty neat experience.

    • is so interesting to watch other people close to you be slowly but surely inspired by what you are doing…and you never know who else out there you are inspiring without being aware of it.

    • Thanks Deborah…I definitely think the more we do our own things, the more we want to do together…sounds like you are having the same experience.

  3. You said something here about there always being love but not always like… isn’t that the truth?! Loved your words here. Running certainly does change us in such beautiful ways. I’m so thankful for the gift it is and all it does for me. I’m thankful that my husband enjoys running with me but even if he didn’t, I know I’m a better ME (wife, mom, self) when I having running so it’s a win win win! Ah, man, congratulations to you about your publication in RW! so cool! I deeply admire your tenacious spirit with running and writing… from being a non runner not too long ago to now not only making running part of your life but also writing about it on your own blog, Women’s running, and now RW? That’s some tenacity and grit! Inspired by you.

    • Thanks Amanda…the publication is actually also in Women’s Running in print, not Runner’s World… but equally exciting nonetheless… And yes, I think we all have periods when we don’t “like” the person we love, and it’s amazing how many different phases a relationship can go through as life unfolds…

  4. I felt that Babak is coming around to join your activities more rather than being on the side line n seeing you living your life with running and all other activities you do which I love that you live life to the fullest even though you have a busy life as a mother n a physician and a wife.
    I m so happy that you guys are doing yoga together. I need to work on my hubby to work out n do yoga soon. ?I m inspired, thanks for sharing ?

    • Thanks honey…you guys are busy in twin baby bliss right now….it took until our kids were older before we could start doing things…enjoy the babies and try to make a little time here and there for just the two of you.

  5. My favorite quote from this essay is “there has always been love but not always like”…that pretty much sums up my 27+years of marriage with my husband. There have been a lot of storms and we’ve weathered them all pretty well. The true test was our recent trip to California for my Big Sur Marathon–our first trip sans children. There we found ourselves again and I remembered why I married this guy who is so different from me. We balance each other. And we had an amazing trip.

    Congrats on your publication! A dream come true! And well deserved.

    • Wow Wendy, I can’t believe it took that many years for you guys to take a trip without kids!! We took a trip alone between having the second and third child… sounds like Big Sur was pretty magical for you… in more days than one.

  6. Really great article! Love how honest you are about marriage and how you shared the personal growth you’ve experienced through running. HUGE CONGRATS on your article being published.

  7. Ah this is everything I thought it would be! I found myself nodding in agreement since my husband is definitely not a runner and, we struggled with the “independent” part as I became increasingly competitive in the sport. But, over the years, he has become more supportive and we have started to grow back together instead of apart where my competition is concerned. Amby is absolutely right – as he usually is – that it is not about one spouse is a runner and the other is not.

    And I could not be more excited for you about WR!!!!!! I hope I get my June copy before I leave on a two week trip so I can read it on the plane 🙂 You deserve all of this and so much more!!! Congratulations Paria!

    • Thanks Allie…. interesting that your competitions are bringing you closer together while he is not a runner… a testament to the strong foundation of your marriage along the lines of what Amby said. Have a great time on your trip….IG away every detail for your little stalker in LA:)

  8. 2 things you wrote resonated for me: “there has always been love, but there hasn’t always been like.” and “you can only change yourself”.

    Boy, ain’t that the truth?? There have been many disagreements and arguments where I’ve said “I love you, but I don’t like you right now.” And there are times where the only thing you can change yourself is the perspective you have. And that has been awakening too!

    But in 22 years together and going into mile 19 of my marriage marathon…. there is a lot of love and communication (to be honest, we can always work on communication). Add to that recipe the following: respect, independence, support, and compromise…. all mutually.

    I’ve always seen the yin/yang symbol as the perfect representation of marriage. It’s 2 halves coming together in a fluid manner (it’s 50/50 but not a straight line), and yet each half maintains its own circle independent of the other half, yet mirroring the other half. In fact, there are no straight lines. Everything bends, curves, wraps… beautiful in unison.

  9. Loved this post Paria. My husband and I started running together when we were dating and ran three marathons together. It definitely brought us closer together. I figured that if we could survive marathon training together, our relationship could survive! But over the years, he’s stopped running (as much) while I’ve continued. And he’s continued to support me because he knows what running means and what the training entails.

    And WR! Congrats!! It’s so fun to see your name in print!

    • Thanks Christine….part of me thinks it would be great if my husband shared my love of running, and part of me appreciates it being my own thing… I’m happy that for now, we are at least doing the yoga together.

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