Online Dating and Runners

Wouldn’t it be nice to find someone to grow old with? Flickr Commons image by Indiana Stan.

About a month or so ago, I found myself single again and a little cynical about dating, but needing to “put my life back together,” and get back out there. So Salty had really great timing when she sent out a message to us about Fitness Singles. Mostly about how she and her husband make fun of the ads (how can you not? They’re pretty easy to laugh at), but also seeing if anyone would be interested in trying it out and writing about it.

Naturally, I was a little nervous as to what types of men would be on there, but I figured it was better than the nothing I was getting from Tinder at the time. So after some back and forth with my fellow Salties, kpruns100s had a Fitness Singles profile.

I had tried online dating before. In the spring after I ended my almost seven-year relationship, I started dating again pretty quickly. I started with OkCupid to get some practice talking to guys again, then bit the bullet and paid $60 for a three-month membership to Match. I thought of it as a small investment and even if a relationship didn’t come out of it, I would at least get my $60 back in drinks, coffee, dinner, and maybe fun.

Having experience on OkCupid, Match and Tinder (which, if you haven’t heard of it, is an app that’s sort of similar to those “hot or not” picture sites from the 90’s), I was pretty skeptical about Fitness Singles when I made my profile, but I went for it.

Anyway, let’s just say every creepy thing you ever heard about online dating is true.

In my experience, being an ultra runner and working full time is hard enough!  Add in dating and suddenly life is a bit more difficult. Online dating made things a bit easier than I expected in some ways, but harder in others.  Here’s what I learned:

No one gets competitive running, especially ultra running, unless they’re also a competitive runner. And those are few and far between. We have a pretty tight-knit trail and ultra community, so I pretty much know everyone already. I lucked out and met another ultra runner who I didn’t know and we dated briefly. But explaining ultra running to non-runners was like explaining calculus to a five year old.

Sorry, Not hot. Flickr Commons image by badjonni.

Most men seemed intimidated by a woman who competitively runs ultras and will try to one-up you with their sub-20 5K they ran once 10 years ago. I got that and “I ran a Tough Mudder this year! It was so awesome and so hard, you should try it!” (*facepalm*) While I appreciated the efforts to relate to me and what I’m passionate about, it’s not the same. Telling a guy who doesn’t run at all or isn’t an endurance athlete that you run 100 miles because it’s fun and you like winning things tends to scare men off.

Being so committed to my sport has made me a little bit awkward and probably less well rounded. Most of my first date stories were about ultra running and I’m sure I was super boring to most guys.

Men are generally creepy. There are good ones out there obviously, but the creepy/weird/sexual messages I received far outnumbered the nice ones. On Tinder, you can send “moments” to all of your matches and it’s kind of like snapchat where the photo disappears after a certain amount of time. Let’s just say I saw more of a certain body part on complete strangers than I ever wanted to.

A lot of men don’t really know how to talk to women. I don’t know if this relates to the intimidation thing or what, but the whole experience of judging strangers based on their pictures and a short blurb of a profile can make for awkward conversation. It’s also awkward when you see the guy who just dumped you a few weeks before pop up online.

Online dating is very superficial and makes me feel like a judgmental bitch. I wrote off Fitness Singles pretty early, mostly because I didn’t feel like paying any money for it, but also because the small amount of men on there in the area didn’t meet my “requirements.” I’m sure that sounds mean, but none of the men were anywhere close in age to me and that’s a deal breaker. I got a few messages on there…from men old enough to be my father. Ugh.

Having a not-so-normal name means people can find you very easily online. Tinder is connected to your Facebook profile and potential matches can see the photos you choose, your first name, age and whatever else you feel like putting on there. So that, plus knowing I run ultras equaled a super creepy first date where the guy knew everything about me, you can possibly find online, including my recent race results and newspaper articles I had written in college. That date couldn’t end fast enough.

At least I learned what I don’t want. If anything, the whole online dating experience has helped me learn what I’m looking for in a man and a relationship. And meeting new people has been fun as well, but I’m not betting that it’s the best way to meet someone by a longshot.

How about you? Have you tried online dating as an out runner? How’d it go for you? 

Trail and 100 mile ultra runner who still loves a good road marathon every now and then. Lifetime Northeast Ohio resident that dreams of the mountains out west, but loves CLE too much. Sometimes a vegan, sometimes does yoga, always loves a good craft beer and post race donuts.

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  1. Kali, I loved reading about your online dating experience !! Forget about meeting ‘ your match’ via technology. You’re way beyond that…just keep doing what you love (running!) and believing in yourself. There’s that special guy out there ( maybe on the trails right now!) who wants to share HIS passion and zest for life with YOU!

    1. I definitely did! Every date I went on was with someone who runs and the ultra runner I dated for a bit and I definitely had a bit of competition going. Not just on runs together, but comparing race times and such. It was weird for sure!

  2. I am SO sorry that you you find your self single. It is NOT easy these days. I would only wish that on my worst enemy. And men think they are the prize and not the other way around. My Daddy gave me some GREAT advice after my 1st husband died…. “Figure out who you want to date with relation to who you are and go to where the men are.” You’re an ultra athlete, go to where other ultras train. Go to where true athletes train. there’s bound to be a few single ones and be prepared to spend your own money. DON’T SETTLE!!!!

    Good Luck

    1. Thanks for your comment!! Especially agree on the don’t settle part! It is definitely hard to be single when the majority of my friends are married or about to be soon. I did get very lucky and started dating a really great guy!

  3. What? No one else has anything to say about online dating. I know from the back channels that everyone is a critic!

    I hate dating. I really hate it. It isn’t even an activity I look forward to as an entertaining time waster. I’m sick of pretending that online dating is going to churn out anything good. Intimidated by ultra running? My profile says something like, “I expect you to be faster than me…” The point isn’t to be intimidating. Instead it is just a first step in filtering out the fat lazy guys. I actually want to be able to go running (or biking, or whatever) with some guy who isn’t a pussy. Then again, I shouldn’t be too picky. I come with lots of baggage.

    I found a really cool guy once when I was out on bike. He was ten years older than me, got up early, learned how to sail during his time in the navy and actually went to the naval academy, went biking at 6am, traveled Asia. Of course I fucked it up, but it was reassuring that there really is sports dating in the real world.

  4. I have so many things I could say here. In general, many men have a hard time with competitive women, especially when they’re competitive in the same arenas. It reminds me of something my husband told me – well two things, actually! First, he said some friends of his decided that the hottest women runners ran about a 41:00 10k. That meant they were competitive enough to be fit (read:hot), but not too competitive (read:crazy). And the other thing he said was that he’s totally cool with me training and racing as long as I never beat his PRs. I;m reading a great book right now called the Silence of Great Distance and it’s about the birth of competitive women’s running, particularly in the US. And basically what it said was that women’s running became popular once it was proven that women could be good runners and remain feminine. Early media stories of running stars talked of how the runners looked feminine and pretty and sewed well. Look at our stars today. LetsRun rips Shalane for talking like a competitive athlete before her races – sizing up competition, etc. Lauren Fleshman gets called a man. It’s ridiculous.

    Getting back to the context of online dating, it’s a world when we’re summed up in a blurb on paper and something like competitive running is going to be seen out of context of who you are. When someone meets us in real life they can see we’re normal (well, kinda! Ha!) and that we’re attractive and offer a lot more than nut-twisting them with our amazing athletic abilities 😉


  5. never tried any sites for dating, but my impression on dating is how we figure out what we want and what we don’t. it might seem to be easier filtering out undesirable traits using a website, but because everything is self-reported (eg, “doesn’t smoke” could mean “unless i’ve been drinking” or “unless it’s cannabis”), i think online dating no less difficult to suss out who people are going to be, sitting across from us? getting to know someone as a friend, first, can really curtail the shittier aspects of blindly running headlong, juggernaut, into a “first date”. my longest and happiest relationships all started as friendships to some degree.

    and yes, men who use tinder or snapchat are predisposed to creepiness as, if i recall, that was their initial use in the first place. as a male of the species, i apologize for that. people seem to forget decorum when they go online and this is particularly notable with men, unfortunately. but then, it’s easier to know who to avoid, i suppose. ;^)

    as a tangent, i’m not sure how to take the idea that being single is a bad thing (cf HooDoo Honey) as we are only able to get back to our true selves when we take the time away from coupling. introspection is all but impossible if you’re often thinking about “us” and “our” schedule and what “we’re” doing. while being single is certainly lacking in the bedroom romping — or often is — being by yourself can be so incredibly enlightening. it can even remind us of things that brought us joy in the past and allow us to experience that joy which we may have put aside during our relationship.

    i absolutely love this video that Andrea Dorfman made on the subject of being alone.
    (not sure if i can post links or not?)