Dating is tricky to navigate for the average person. But for ultrarunners, it is like trying to get through an obstacle course blindfolded. There are traps everywhere, and we usually don’t see them until we’ve already fallen in. To help my fellow ultrarunners, I figured I could give some sage dating advice…because who doesn’t want to take dating advice from someone who has been single for over four years! Amiright, laaaaaadies? Guys?
Okay, to make this more understandable, I have sectioned this out into five easy steps, representing five stages of a 100 mile race. Read on and prepare to get your romance mojo going.
Step One: Setting up your online profile (0-10 miles)
First impressions matter, so cultivate your online profile wisely! A hint of sporty works, but avoid the full-blown ultrarunner persona just yet. Think sprite, not red bull.
- Pick a photo of you at the start of a race. One in which you look shiny, full of hope, and spandex-clad before your dreams are shattered a few dozens of kilometres later. Everyone loves spandex – leave nothing to the imagination! You’ve got it, so why not flaunt it across the internet for all to see and examine?
- Do NOT post a photo of you at the end of a race. I know you’re super proud of that race finish, but you probably aren’t seeing the salt caked on the side of your face, the dried snot on your sleeve, or the unidentifiable brown smudges on your pants.
- Do not post a selfie, unless it is a mysterious side selfie, for example. See exhibit below: pensive, contemplative, and a little less narcissistic than your usual selfie. But not by much….but hey, it’s tough to have normal shots when most of our days are spent alone on the trail!
- In describing yourself, try to pretend you’re just a normal person, doing normal things, covering normal distances on a daily basis. Let’s call it selective honesty. For instance, you can talk about your height, but not about the number of toenails you’ve lost. Favourite perfume is okay. Favourite lube is not. Well, depends who you are trying to attract I guess. There’s someone for everyone.
Step Two: Planning the first date (10-20 miles)
Obviously, whoever you end up dating is going to have to get used to your intense training and racing schedule, but try to keep that under wraps until later in the relationship. See figure below.
- Do. Not. Plan. A. Running. Date. I don’t know how to say this more clearly. You know what’s going to happen… a nice get-to-know-you trot around the park will ‘accidentally’ turn into a 5 hour run. You will spill your entire life history, chatting away as you crank out the miles, completely oblivious to your date’s obvious state of panic at being led into the forest by a stranger. The night will wind up in tears and vomit, trust me. (Sorry, Brian….And Mark).
- If you’re going out close to feeding time, make sure to eat a meal beforehand so that you can order a normal amount of food when you’re together. And pack snacks in your pockets – you can surreptitiously eat them when you are on a bathroom break. Nothing wrong with snacking on the toilet. If you fail to follow this rule, you’ll probably end up eating your meal as well as your date’s, which is not the most polite way to start off a relationship.
Step Three: Becoming exclusive (20-60 miles)
Let’s be honest – there is no way you have time to train, eat, sleep and date more than one person, but the possibility of your partner finding someone else while you’re out on a long run is high. Here’s how to show you’re committed.
- Does your partner like lounging around in bed on a Saturday morning? No problem. Just make like you’re getting up for a pee in the middle of the night and head out for a sneaky run instead. You can clock out 10-15 miles, come back, shower, jump in your pjs and crawl into bed before your absence is even noticed. Then enjoy staying in bed all morning guilt-free. Your partner will probably think you’ve sacrificed your treasured Saturday morning run for cuddle-time – bonus points! I have a friend who frequently does his training between 2am and 8am so that he doesn’t miss any ‘regular’ time at home. Now that’s commitment.
- Your partner wants to meet for brunch on Sunday with a bunch of his or her friends? Absolutely fine – say you’ll meet them there. Pick a restaurant 40 miles out that doesn’t have a dress code. Your partner can drive there; you can run over.
- Ask to leave a pair of running shoes at his or her place. This is probably more significant than leaving a toothbrush, or offering a key to your own place. Your running shoes are an extension of you – where they go, you go, so leaving a pair behind is a clear sign of commitment.
Step Four: Celebrating your first anniversary (60-80 miles)
Once you’ve hit the one year mark, your partner will be fully aware of your crazy… so the trick at this point is to reward him or her for putting up with your antics for so long.
- When picking out an appropriate anniversary gift, why not choose something you can both enjoy? Like a cowbell. Or blank poster boards with a set of markers and a stack of cards containing motivational sayings. The gift that keeps on giving.
- A trip would be a great idea for celebrating your anniversary, but let’s be honest, there’s zero chance you’ll be able to take a trip longer than a couple of days without an adventure. The trick is to find a fabulous place to go where you can sneak in a cheeky race. Here is a handy chart of to help you out:
Step Five: Planning a Proposal (80-100 miles)
Honestly, I have no advice here. If someone has stuck with you this long, he or she is a keeper. Float the idea of a proposal at the finish line of a race, but be willing to compromise… You are in the homestretch! Pop some immodium and anti-nausea meds, and you’re home free!
Wrapping it Up
I hope this little dating guide helped. If you want to check out some more ultra-dating realities, check out Chris Mocko’s youtube video on the subject. This guy is ha-larious. Happy trails, happy trials 🙂 (I may do a ‘dating INSIDE the species’ post soon… hellloooooo strava flirting)