Even though I’m happily married, and it’s been well over a decade since I’ve been a part of the dating scene, I still remember what it was like to be out there. (Seriously, how could anyone ever forget the world of dating?)
Through all of the excitement and madness of trying to find someone that you really like spending time with, one thing that always seemed pretty clear to me. As a runner, it’s MUCH easier to date a non-runner.
After all, what happens when you date a non-runner?
You’re a Superhero!
When you date a non-runner, they’re more likely to be genuinely impressed with your running accomplishments than another runner would. And the truly great thing is that it’s sure to be true even if you’re not happy with those accomplishments yourself.
For example, let’s say you were shooting for a 43 minute 10k in a big race, but fell short by a minute. You’re probably bummed, but your non-runner boyfriend or girlfriend is likely to tell you afterwards, with genuine astonishment, “wait… it only took you 44 minutes to run 6 miles? That’s AMAZING!”
This can take some of the sting off failing to meet your goals, and help stop the unhelpful frustration and self-loathing you might otherwise feel. (Just resist the temptation to correct them by saying “actually, it was 6.2 miles….”)
In contrast, if you’re dating a runner they’ll be able to point (perhaps without even being asked) out all the flaws in your training program, your taper, your hydration the night before, your pre-race meal, your choice of footwear, and so on. Yuck! I don’t want a coach to help me analyze my performance afterwards, I just want to feel better about myself.
Race Day Logistics are Easier.
You have to be selective here, and not ask your non-runner squeeze to be your support crew too often, but it can be great to have a friendly face at the start to hold your warm-ups, and to have someone cheering you on as you pass by them on the course. Running a point-to-point race and need a drop off and pick up? No problem.
Now imagine having to coordinate with another runner. Sure, they may have a better sense of how you need to take care of yourself once the race is done (like not letting you skip your cool-down because you’re “tired”). And things are worse if they’re running the same race, because now you have two performances to worry about.
Again, it’s tough for that boyfriend or girlfriend to avoid becoming a coach, instead of just moral support, if they’re also a runner.
No Need to Worry About Keeping Your Mouth Shut (at least when it comes to running).
This temptation to “coach” goes both ways, too. If you’re the “better runner” in the relationship, there are going to be plenty of times where your advice won’t be received very well, even if it’s objectively good advice — and even if your boyfriend or girlfriend would have welcomed that same information if only it had come from a third party.
And God forbid you go on a run together and one of you tries to give advice to the other on the fly… By dating a non-runner you never have to navigate this relationship minefield.
You’ll Always Be Able to Get Some “Me Time.”
Getting time by yourself is an often overlooked part of dating. And if you don’t ever put in the effort to get that time, you may be putting stress on your budding relationship down.
The sad truth is that when your boyfriend or girlfriend asks “so, what are you doing tonight,” it can be relationship suicide to say “I was just going to stay at home by myself. I don’t really feel like coming over to hang out with you tonight.” (I actually said something just like that once, thinking that my honesty would be respected. Guess how things turned out…)
Even if the other person is looking for some time alone themselves, saying that you want to be somewhere that they aren’t, or doing something that they’re not, isn’t going to go over well.
But if you’re the only runner in the relationship, you have a built in reason to spend time alone. The person you’re dating might not like your training, but chances are they’ll understand and accept it.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to share the joy and beauty of running with someone who’s important to you. If you’re dating (or married to) a non-runner, then those shared running experiences might not happen very often. And that’s what makes them so special.
But there are enough things to fight about in any budding relationship. Running shouldn’t be one of them.