Dear Non-Runner Who Wants to Date a Runner

Ginger feels my pain.Dear non-runner who wants to date a runner,

I’ll admit it: running is a huge part of my life, much more important than you might understand. I feel very lucky that I have a family who supports me 110% and a group of best friends who cheer me on when I succeed and pick me up when I don’t. However, when it comes to dating, I’m open to dating you, but I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t run who really gets my running habit. In past relationships I have chosen to overlook that difference for fear of being too picky. One thing I’ve learned is that you, non-runner, need help, a lot of help, to be a good romantic partner for someone like me.

Non-runner, I’m here to help you. We runners are awesome people, but until you appreciate that, we will be leaving you in our dust. So, I’d like to offer you a little advice. [And runners, if you hear any of these things escape the lips of your non-runner boo, you might want to run away because it will only get worse. Yikes!]

First – and this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised – don’t knock running. Here’s a recent conversation I had and a perfect example of what not to do:

Non-runner: What did you do today?
Me: I went for a run on a cool new trail I just found!
Non-runner: Ew, that sounds terrible!

When we mention something that we not only enjoy doing, but are also incredibly passionate about, maybe don’t use any of these words or phrases: “ew,” “gross,” “puke,” “why would you do that?”, or “running is stupid.” I happen to think that collecting copious amounts of weapons under your bed and watching Nat Geo all day is “gross” but I don’t say that out loud now, do I?

The next thing you need to understand about us is that sleep is super important. Like, we might hurt you if you keep us from going to bed at 9:30 the night before an important race. We’re not going to be able to perform our best without enough of it. So, we don’t need you to tell us how lame we are when we can’t spend time with you late at night or when we have to leave the party early to get to bed on time. Sorry to cramp your style, but we have big goals that aren’t going to achieve themselves. Oh, and this reminds me…

Don’t you dare tell us to just skip it. So, let’s say that the runner you’re dating caves and stays up late against her better judgement. She is now faced with the unpleasant task of waking up to run before work, just a few hours after she fell asleep. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard these exact words: “You’re crazy! Why don’t you just skip your run for once and sleep in?” Riiiiiiiight! Why didn’t I think of that before? Of course I’ll just skip my run since you told me to! I’m sure my OTQ will run itself while I’m snoozing the morning away without a care in the world. For the sake of my running sisters everywhere, maybe just banish the word “skip” from your vocabulary.

You might also consider not using the word “gross” as it pertains to our feet.  Yeah, they’re ugly as sin, missing a bunch of toenails, and feel like sandpaper, but they serve a very important purpose and make the rest of ourselves spectacular. Also, you may want to go ahead and wash those dishes that have been in your sink since 2014. That grosses us out, FYI.

Maybe ask us about running. Even if it sounds to you, like an awful thing to do, make a little effort to understand why we love running so much. This isn’t just a silly hobby for us; it’s our life, and we wouldn’t be happy or the awesome people we are without it! And honestly, we’d probably rather be running than hanging out with you, so you might as well embrace it.



I'm an aspiring elite runner from the DC/Northern VA area. I love road racing and am currently training for a half marathon in April. I write about attempting to balance a career with running and enjoying the process of training and improving!

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  1. I would say that the last one is perhaps he most important – ENGAGE with us!

    For me it is a bit different – I have been running for nearly 28 years now, since before my wife and I were dating (already knew each other) and before we had kids. But while for ~23 years I was a ’12-15 mile/week slogger’, over the last 5 years I have greatly pushed my volume (more per week than I ever did in a month before!) and also cut my pace in half … and become a multi-marathoner, etc.

    So suddenly my family had to figure out WTF was going on … what it all meant, and so on. They needed to learn that NO I wouldn’t just skip it … but that it is ok to give me a rough time about saying “just going for a quick 10 miles” 🙂

    Ultimately for me it is like any passion – the other person needs to understand that it is important and accept that wholeheartedly.

  2. Oh how lucky I am to have found a man who understands that I need to be fed and put to bed by 9:00! It was pretty awful trying to date people who didn’t appreciate that.

  3. I’m having a similar problem, but with friends. I recently relocated to start graduate school and it’s the first time that I’m hanging out with all non-runners. I’m right at the peak of training for a half marathon and it gets very frustrating trying to explain why I can’t go out until late all the time. I’m constantly having to justify my reasoning and they just don’t understand. I’ve never had this issue before… Need to find some running buddies.