The Marathon Running Pilot

The other day, while Steve was in the middle of a 4-day, he mentioned that he was getting up at 3:30am (body clock time) to get a run in.  Whatever, I thought.  I didn't know his schedule that day, so I didn't think too much of it.

Later that day at my office, I mentioned to my co-workers that Steve has been quite dedicated to running lately.  I still didn't think much of it since Steve - just runs.  Steve is also a very goal oriented person, so I figured he just had it in his mind that he was going to run that morning and that was that.  Maybe he was trying to shed 5 pounds?  Maybe he just wanted to get his splits down into the 7s?


A couple days later, when Steve was home, we invited the neighbors to come over so the kids could play.  At one point, the other Dad and Steve were planning their Saturday morning run.  Bob mentioned that he needed to run 12 miles, and Steve said that he needed to run 13.

Well, that is an awfully specific number.

"Steve, are you training for something?" I asked as I looked straight into his eyes.

"Maybe" he replied, as he started to smile in the most sheepish way.  

"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked him.

"I just didn't want you to be bothered with my training" he said.   And then he asked "are you okay with this?"


After this conversation I mentioned a couple times that this would be my next blog post: the marathon running pilot.  The first time I mentioned it Steve was fearful that it would be a negative post.  He has not to worry, as this will be mostly positive.  In the past, I haven't been the most receptive to marathon training.  Steve's job takes him away 57% of our life, and training for a marathon takes him away that much more.  Marathon training for a pilot is not an easy thing to balance with home life.

This will be marathon #3 for Steve.  Here is a link to his last marathon: Steve's second marathon. 

At this point in the game, I feel well prepared for what is ahead.  The first marathon training was crap, both for Steve and me.  Ben was just a year old, and I was still dealing with new mom stuff (read: sleep deprived and just plan-old adjusting to this new life).  Steve was new at the training program, so his really long runs just wreaked havoc on him and on the entire house.  The second time around was easier for all of us...Steve knew what to do, and what not to do with his training.  And I felt experienced with the kids, so there were mostly no issues.

And this time around?  I have a new perspective on this training thing.  Looking back over the last number of weeks, I can think about Steve's training.  He really did a good job of hiding it from me, I must say.  When he would ask me "can I go on a run?" I would allow him.  Of course! Of course, because of my new perspective.

This new perspective is "me time."  I have made it know recently that I am now volunteering at a local Children's Hospital.  Why am I doing this? Because I want to - because I have a desire to help people - because I want to build my character.  Steve has been nothing but supportive throughout this.  I take about 5 hours out of every Friday to do this, and he never complains. 

Because I take this 5 hours out every Friday for me, how can I complain about the couple of hours he takes to run?  He is doing this because he wants to - because he has the desire - and it is building his character.  I can't take that away from him.  And if I did take it away from him?  He would resent me.  Just as I would resent him if he wouldn't be supportive of my volunteering.  We all need "me time" in whatever form it comes.

Marriage is about give and take, and support.  There is no question that Steve being gone a lot adds a layer complexity to this whole marathon training.  Again, he is gone 4 days a week, so add on training runs nearly daily (some being as long as 3+ hours), and you can see what I am getting at.  My attitude with a lot of home things is that since Steve is gone so much he needs to do it all when he is home.  I will be the first to admit that I have had this thought before "how dare he take 3 hours of his precious home time to be gone with this stupid marathon training?!"  But, this is no longer my perspective on things.   Now, I do have glimpses of this thought, but I catch myself and try my best to stop it. 

I have said it before and I will say it again, it is important to take time for yourself and do things that are important to you!  Steve was Steve before he met me.  I don't want him to lose sight of his self because of his marriage or his kids.  We are here to better him, not deny him.  We are here to support him, not take things away.  I want Steve to have a happy and fulfilling life, and if running a third marathon gives him what he needs, than we will be there for him. 


Now, if there are any pilots out there that are training for a marathon here are some of my tips to make the training process easier for your family:

- run in the morning.  I know it sucks to get up early, and I know you just got home from a 4-day that kicked your ass so far out of your body clock that you could stay in bed all day.  But, in order not to piss your wife off, do it.  The other morning Steve was done with a 13 mile run right as I was waking up with CC.  This, my pilot friend, made me happy.

- don't nap in the afternoon after an early morning.  There is no faster way to piss me off than finding my husband like this the afternoon after an early morning run:
Any good you did by waking up early will be quickly negated by snoozing in the afternoon.  If you can't handle a 5am wake up to run, make it a 6am wake up call.  If you can't fit your run in with a 6am wake up call, go back to the 5am wake up...and see the don't nap rule.

-  unpack your stinky, wet running clothes immediately upon your return home.  There is nothing worse than sorting laundry and having to deal with a stale, stinky, wet, gross bundle of running gear that has been brewing in a closed, dark suitcase for 6 days.

- if your wife complains about a run, don't get upset.  Your wife knows that your training is important, and she is trying her hardest to be supportive.  It is just that sometimes, week after week, it may wear on her.  She will try her best not to whine, but if she does just give her a hug and tell her that all this training is making your ass still fit in the 34" work pants.  That may make her smile.

- and last but not least, let your wife and kids cheer like fools during your race.  Running a marathon, not to mention 3 marathons, is quite an accomplishment.  We are proud of your dedication, and want to show our support to you.


  1. Well said! It's awesome how you have gained perspective and see this third training period as something that builds character, thus it helps the whole family.

    1. Gaining perspective has been incredibly imporant this time around, since I may have not been so receptive to it at first.

  2. As a marathoning pilot wife, I feel guilt on my end as well. He's gone for 4 days at a time and then I have to leave to get in a long run. I feel bad for being away when he just got home. :)

    1. ah, interesting take. I never thought of that, well...since I don't run :) But, I totally see your point. I am sure he doesn't mind. Does he?

  3. Great post! I have to agree with Amber above. I am training now but we have it worked out so far. Good luck to him for #3. And yes, you guys should cheer as loud as possible. I get most of my motivation from my husband and kids and don't think I would cross the finish line without them.

    I think it is great you are volunteering too. We all need our "thing" and whatever that may be, a husband and wife need to support each other for marriage to work. Sounds like you guys do that and that is awesome!

    1. We always cheer for Steve around mile 18, which it close to the top of a bitch of a a 3 mile long hill. He always says that gives him motivation.

      Volunteering really is great. When I am at the hospital, it is never 'work' I find myself willing to do absolutely anything and I would never complain. It really is all for the greater good.

  4. I feel guilty for about the first 5 seconds of my long training bike rides. But then the bitchiness in me kicks in and says "Hey I just spent the last 4 days with these kids round the clock I deserve a little time away!"

    Usually when I get home I am a much happier person!

    1. You do deserve time away from the kids!!! I swear that is how I keep my sanity - I go away for a couple hours here and there when Steve is home. We need that break.


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