As much as we use technology to connect and date, we all still have to meet in person. Usually it’s dinner and drinks or coffee and a conversation. But for people who are big runners, socializing while we run is part of the lifestyle. There are running groups, jogging partners, and, yes, even running dates.
If you and your date are both competitive runners who want to connect by pushing each other, by all means, run as fast as the wind. But for most people who want to get to know someone doing a casual few miles, this guide is your blueprint.
Here are five tips for how to go on a running date:
1. Never underestimate (or overestimate) your date’s running potential.
If you’ve been running for years, it’s easy (so so easy) to think of yourself as an incredible athlete who can run all day and all night. Don’t. You never know what your date’s level of fitness and ability is and you shouldn’t assume.
Thinking this way can leave you with a hurt ego when your date ends up leaving you in the dust. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t leave your date behind because you’re trying to prove something either. When you jet ahead and wait for them on the corner half a mile away, the only thing you’ve proven is that you’re there to work out; not to connect. Which brings us to the next piece of advice…
2. Remember, it’s a date, not a race.
Runners can be casual people who dig running along the beach for the views and the sunset. But we can also be competitive type-A personalities that are up at 6 a.m. and who don’t like being passed. Ever.
That means we can sometimes unconsciously (or consciously) try to pick up the pace when other runners are near. Leave that instinct at the door. At least for your first run date and casual run dates. You’re there to get to know someone. Not prove you’re faster than them.
3. Figure out how fast you want to go.
Anyone that’s trained for a race has come across the words “conversational pace.” It’s the pace at which you can run all day and chat with people. It’s an easy way to run by yourself and get to know someone.
Ideally, this is something you talk about before meeting up to run. Hares don’t like jogging with tortoises, and tortoises don’t like straining to keep up with the hares. Discuss whether it’s going to be an easy jog through the woods or if you guys want to go at a faster pace.
4. Plan the route.
As a lone runner, it’s easy to go out and run your usual route. Down the block, take a left, and then keep going until you hit the brunch restaurant. That’s not what you should do for a run date.
Treat it like you’re trying to be a tourist in your own town. Take your date along the beach, through the redwood trees, or along a scenic loop.
Also scout out the terrain beforehand. Anyone who runs is a bit of a masochist, but no one wants to slog up a hill in front of someone you’re trying to impress.
5. Make plans for after you finish the run.
The beauty of running (besides trying to better yourself) is treating yourself after—to something savory or sweet, whatever you like to eat. And this doesn’t change at the end of a run date.
In fact, it’s your opportunity find more common ground than running. Since most runs are in the mornings, might I suggest a nearby coffee shop for pastries, coffee, and a good discussion as you plan your next workout and maybe your next date.