Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How To Date (and not date) A Runner

Be still my beating heart, it's a Valentine's Day round up! FIRST, can we all just agree that this sounds like the worst idea ever?

Also, if matchey-matchey couples running outfits are now a
thing...maybe you could do me the courtesy of just not telling me about it.

It's one thing to run with your established significant other, or find yourself crushing on someone who just happens to already be a member of your regular running group. But that doesn't seem to be what this article is talking about. It seems to be referring to that early-on, you're-kinda-cute-and-nice-but-that's-about-all-I-know-about-you period, wherein you intentionally make plans with this person to go on a run together as a date. Why, oh why, would you put the object of your affection through such an ordeal??

Some people will be all, "But I'm a RUNNER, this is who I AM! S/he should know the ugly TRUTH about me right from the START!" To which I say, heeeellllllllllz no. No one wants to see all your warts up-front. They don't. I love to run, and I also love to run with friends. But the truth is, it's hard for me to put a date in the 'win' column if I'm kind of grossed out by the thought of touching you when it's over. See-ya-later-smooch? Not happening if you smell like a laundry hamper & taste like a salt lick. Is that really the impression you want us to leave one another with?

Frankly, I feel like Tip #5 says it all:

    "DON'T spit or blow snot--even if that's customary
    among your training buddies. You should control
    whatever bodily functions you can."

If there is a number one rule-of-thumb for ruling out first/early date activities, concern regarding the control of bodily functions has to rank pretty high up on the list.

If we are just getting to know each other, I would prefer that you looked together and not winded and smelled nice and were able to speak easily in complete sentences and not kind of half preoccupied by your bodily functions. (And, honestly, I want those things for myself as well. If that makes me a diva, then bring me my tiara, darling.) Let's keep the mystery alive and save running together til the three-month mark, at least.

SECOND, as long as we're on running and dating--

I don't want to name any names but there is this one active lifestyle website whose mailing list I got on because they occasionally send out sweet coupons or race discounts. Realistically, though, I get about two of those kind a year, and twice a week or so I am treated to newsletter-type-emails telling me all about local endurance events I have no interest in, the most obvious/useless training tips known to man, and whimsical (I guess?) items that run the gambit from "utterly vacuous" to "someone got paid for this??" in terms of quality.

Recently said website published such a whimsical post informing us all about "How To Date A Runner." I thought maybe it was just a humor piece, but once I clicked through (COME ON I HAD TO), I realized that no, someone is *actually* trying to give us serious (or at least semi-serious) advice.

BEHOLD: How To Date A Runner (if you absolutely have to) (because seriously) (who would volunteer for that)

(Warning - I am about to give you all unsolicited relationship advice. I am qualified to do this because:

  • I am a runner who has only ever been dated by non-runners.
  • I have never had an argument with a partner over running.
  • I have never had angstful passive-agressive unspoken non-arguments with a partner over running.
  • I have never had a relationship end over running.
  • This is the internet, why are we talking about qualifications.

What I'm saying is, I pretty much rock at this. You are welcome.)

Tip #1:

Advice: I am sorry you are dating someone who has never been in an adult relationship and has therefor not yet learned about things like "boundaries" and "priorities" and "not being a one-trick bore all the time." Goals / discipline / work ethic / etc. is one thing, but at some point you really just have to be able to say "Seriously, can we have like ONE CONVERSATION A DAY that is not about running??" If s/he has trouble with that, maybe tell your honey to get a blog & vomit their obsession onto the internet where only willing volunteers have to hear about it? (I am convinced that this blog has played no small part in why I still have a functional relationship as well as many happy friendships with non-runners.)

Or, hey, if you only need to see your S.O. a few hours a week and can totally deal with spending most of the time you spend together nodding and smiling while s/he drones on blissfully un-self-aware, again, more power to you.

Tip #2:

Advice: If you need reassurance from the internet that "No, really, dude, she is TOTALLY NOT AVOIDING YOU" and earth-shattering advice like "If x thing about partner is bothering you then you should probably talk to partner about x," you may have some other issues you need to work out. As for your self-centered, neglectful partner, see above.

Tip #3:

Advice: I like that this one ends with a period AND a question mark. It's kind of like the writer was like, "You should definitely maybe do that. I guess? Maybe.?" Since the author seems uncertain, here's an actual tip. If partner is like, "Let's totally do X!! X would be the coolest!!" and you are like, "X sounds like an utterly miserable waste of time to me!!" then you have some choices.

Choice 1: "X is not really my plate of tamales but you should totally go have an AMAZING time without me & we will do something AWESOME together when you get back!"

Choice 2: "I am not totally stoked about X, but since it's so important to you, I can hang." (If you go this route, you have to *actually* be able to hang, not be miserable and passive aggressive but keep saying it's fine. Basically you're accepting that this trip is about your S.O. & not you, so anything fun or cool you get to do is a bonus--no expectations.)

Choice 3: "I am not too sure about doing X because [reasons], can we discuss / maybe do [compromise thing] instead this time?"

This is called not having a dysfunctional, passive-aggressive relationship.

Also, what's with the weird assumption that the S.O. has to accompany his/her runner love to every race-related event? If it were me, I'd happily go along, but I definitely would not let myself be dragged along to the expo or press-ganged into being a one-woman pit crew for three/four/five hours. Hell no. I'd happily meet the conquering hero at the finish with a snack & a dry change of clothes, but that's about as far as my spously devotion extends. (I certainly don't expect my boyfriend to do more than that--and even then, only for a marathon--& he's put up with my running obsession for over six years now.)

Tip #4:

Advice: Firstly, massive side-eye at the OMG LADIES ARE DELICATE FLOWERS THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE ACTUAL BODILY FUNCTIONS WITH ACTUAL SMELLS, DISGUSTING!!! vibe happening in this "tip." We're all human. We all have metabolisms and personal biomes. I feel like most athletes I know are self-aware enough to realize when we're emitting eau de long run & jump into the shower before foam rolling getting in some core lounging on the couch with a recovery smoothie beer. But if on some days we're a little more brain dead (it happens), just be a grown-up and use your words. "Oof, girl, u ripe!" works as well as anything. My boyfriend is also fond of, "What's that homeless smell?" If your honey bursts into tears over this,'ve got bigger problems in your relationship to tackle than post-run funk.

Tip #5:

Advice: Is there advice in here somewhere?

Tip #6:

Advice: This pretty much boils down to, "She likes a thing. A LOT. Which is not that weird because maybe there is a thing you like a lot too?" I feel like running websites & magazines would have us believe that we runners/endurance athletes are unique and special in how much we love our thing, and if you are not a runner, CLEARLY you can never have ANY IDEA what it's like to care about something SO MUCH, because running is *definitely* the only thing in life that people ever get really overly-invested in & obsessed with committed to. If you really never have been super duper into something, maybe work on a hobby or two before you get into a relationship with an actual adult human.

Tip #7:

Tip #8: So....this started out like the world's most obvious fact, transitioned into laundry advice (which I think is bullshit, btw), and finished with a healthy dollop of sexism.? Good times.

I don't know what the big deal about running laundry is. Drape it over the edge of the hamper for a day til it's dry. Then throw it in the hamper. (I do all my laundry pretty much every Sunday religiously, and seven days in the hamper has never created enough of an odor to notice unless you're sticking your nose directly in it.) Wash with the rest of your lights & darks as needed. I promise it will not melt/soil your normal clothes. Throw in half a cup of baking soda if you're concerned. Sports bras should probably air dry but honestly I don't see what's so special about wicking material of shorts, tops, etc. that it can't go in the dryer. I have been doing it for years so somebody please tell me if my running clothes are actually all broken from this & I should go out & get new ones right away.

Advice: This is again not an actual tip, but if you are this person, maybe you don't take your partner to races. I mean let's be honest: for non-runners, hanging out a road race is about as fun & interesting as watching paint dry (see tip #3). If s/he's not a runner, do yourself a favor & leave your sweetheart home in bed on race day unless s/he specifically volunteers to come. And maybe even if s/he is. (ProTip: If the volunteering only comes after shameless hint-dropping and/or passive-aggressive shenanigans on your part, it doesn't count as volunteering. If you really, really, really want them to come to something, use your words and ask, and if s/he's not enthusiastic, let it go.)

Also, this quote: "Honey, I'll never understand why you endure months of hard training, only to be disappointed on race day." YEAH HONEY, WHY DON'T YOU JUST STOP DISAPPOINTING YOURSELF ALREADY???

Tip #9:

Advice: Again, no actual advice, but why let that stop us? (Also, clearly a complete lack of familiarity with white noise and/or Peanuts, but that's neither here nor there.) This strikes me as just another illustration of the bizarre ONLY RUNNERS UNDERSTAND ABOUT BEING REALLY, REALLY INTO SOMETHING. The only real advice I have is for the runner gal hosting brunch, which is to DTMFA who equates "really into running" + "enjoys chatting about shared interests with friends" with "one-dimensional" & clearly has some kind of inferiority situation going on.


(For more unique & awesome Valentine's Day cards, visit The Oatmeal!)


  1. hahaha, 'massive side eye.' The problem with any "relationship advice" is it's incredibly generalized and, therefore, typically relies on stereotypes. Sure, he loves to run, but you love to shop. So, it's the same!

    Also, people could just, you know, act like normal human people in relationships and stop being insane.

  2. I'll say it. I unsubscribed from the 700 mailing lists I got suckered into long ago. Annoying as all get-out!
    My husband runs, but only to stay in shape - not a "runner" per his own description. But he's very supportive and will talk running with me. He's just an all around nice guy, though.

  3. Ah, my favourite! Unsolicited advice from mailing lists on the internet! Which is often sad content generated for the purpose of selling things. It doesn't make me want to buy said things any more, though.

    Husband is not a runner in the obsessed sense that I am a runner, but he does get running -- he is a climber. Yep, human beings have passions and interests (I would not bother dating someone without any.)

    I like how the 'tips' get more and more dire:
    Tip 5: a taper is not a thing to be 'survived', like getting lost at sea for 13 months.
    Tip 7: uh, laundry is pretty common-sense? there are things that can't go in the dryer, big deal.
    Tip 9: you need relationship counselling.

  4. lol I knew it was immediately - I unsubscribed from all their emails too

  5. I couldn't help but notice the running relationship advisor lady was from Houston. Please be assured that's not how the majority rolls down here!! ;)

  6. Hahahaha. It sounds like the advisor/writer has a lot of issues *she* needed to air out. I totally agree with your first point about blogging being the outlet that has saved my friendships with non-runners. Fortunately, my bf runs too (though a lot less than he used to), likes to talk about running, and will come to spectate at marathons, but he's also not afraid to tell me to chill the F- out when I'm getting OCD, or go pursue his own passions/hobbies instead of griping about how much time I'm spending on mine.

    My favorite quotes: "Oof, girl, u ripe!" and "What's that homeless smell?" LOLZ.

  7. I had read that article a while ago and was also surprised by the lack of actual (mature) advice / intellectual content / just give me anything useful here.
    I think the writer was trying to be funny and cute but in a safe way too. For me it's either give me serious advice or if you are gonna do a funny bit then go all out.
    Loved your post, I agree with all your notes and advice.

  8. My second date with the Husband was a run but we'd been eyeing each other up across the office for a while now and we knew each other fairly well,it wasn't a traditional first date. And he refuses to wear matching clothes with me, which is so mean.

    I agree that this was supposed to be a funny thing but it's all just eye-rolling to me. Being the partner of anyone who has an interest in anything involves similar stuff! To be useful though, could you do a post on laundry? :)

  9. I love this post! I have an old Runners World book which suggests, in the women's running section, that a run is an ideal first date because it allows you to show off your body and your fitness. Yep, that's totally the kind of guy I'd like to be with. Or not...