Can You Actually Find A Date By Joining A Run Club? I Put My Body On The Line To Find Out

Can You Actually Find A Date By Joining A Run Club? A photo of a run club side by a photo of a girl running

Doing a physical activity like running might not seem like an ideal date idea. For one, it requires a level of fitness that going to a bar doesn’t — and going for a run can genuinely make it hard to look hot, especially if you’re like me and running turns you a luminous red.

Despite these challenges, run clubs have taken off as the new ‘it’ place to date in Australia, and it makes sense. Many young people are experiencing dating-app burn out, are drinking less and are hungry to try different things in a post-COVID dating world. 

Loneliness has become endemic among Gen Z, with reports finding high levels of isolation. 62 per cent of young Australians feel lonely or left out, and young women are more likely to feel greater feelings of isolation.

There’s a desire among young people to find community in the wild. From TikTok advertised book clubs to dinner party nights with strangers where you buy a ticket to connect with new people. It’s a burgeoning time where we’re using social media to meet people in real life. 

As a reaction to the omnipresent feelings of isolation, we are seeing young people putting themselves out in the world in different ways, which explains why we’re seeing the current rise of the run club. 

Run clubs have surged in popularity all over the country, from major cities like Sydney and Melbourne to regional hubs like Rockhamptoon. Footpaths are becoming swamped with hordes of runners and seeing a mass of spandex take over the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a sight to behold.

For single Aussies looking to meet someone, run clubs are being touted as ‘the’ destination to meet your new significant other, but can you actually date someone from a run club? How likely is it that you’ll hit it off with someone when you’re dripping with sweat and gasping for air? 

Is it purely a fantasy, perhaps a romanticised notion of just being able to say you met your partner at a run club, or is it an actual hot bed for hook-ups? 

I’m lacing up my joggers and downloading Strava to put my body on the line and find out.

Can You Join A Run Club If You’re Not A Runner?

First of all I want to make it abundantly clear that I have never been a runner, nor ever envisioned myself as one. I always tanked cross country at school and despite having a good base level of fitness from playing social sport a few nights a week as an adult, running has always been hard for me.

Speaking to friends who are runners, they tell me that it’ll get easier after around a month of consistent running. They lament that running is the type of exercise that is hard at the beginning but will become easier and soon turn into something you will actually enjoy.  

After running most days for a month, it didn’t get easier. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my legs hurt and the voice in my head telling me to stop was louder than the music being blasted in my headphones. I wanted to give up, but for the sake of journalism and the chance to be the Joan Didion of run club dating, I persisted. 

Two months of consistent running and I finally broke through the threshold where going for a run felt okay instead of feeling like I was fighting demons. So if you’re like me and scared of rocking up to a run club because you’re not a runner, I can assure you it is possible and running will eventually get easier. 

How To Meet Someone At A Run Club

One of the best things that I can say about run clubs is that it turns out you don’t have to be good at running to attend. Depending on which club you go to, they’re mostly underpinned with an encouraging and welcoming atmosphere. 

If you’re good at running and want something more hardcore to flex your fitness and talent (honestly, brava to you!) then select a club that has a longer distance or is more challenging. But if you want something a bit more relaxed there are plenty of clubs on offer. 

I eased myself into the community with a run club that takes place on Saturday mornings. The track is mostly flat and the total distance is 5 kilometres, a distance I never thought I’d be running, but here we are.

On my first time going to the run club it was friendly but hard to break past the initial chit chat, probably because it’s 8am on a Saturday and people are either a) hung over from Friday night drinks or b) yet to caffeinate at risk of getting a stitch on their run.

The trick to being able to strike up a conversation if you’re feeling shy is consistency. If you attend the same run club for a couple of weeks you’ll start to recognise that same guy with the purple hat or the tall girl with the blue shorts. Seeing someone a few times makes it easier to say hello and break the ice. As is the secret with many things in life, consistency is key.

I can assure you it’s hard to strike up a conversation mid-run. In fact, I’d say it’s near impossible to start chatting up a stranger looking down the barrel of a 5 kilometre run. So look for a run club that has activities planned either side. It could be a run followed by a coffee in the morning or the run takes you to a drinks destination in the evening.

What I’ve discovered about being able to make genuine connections from run clubs, it’s the activity outside of the run where the magic really happens. It’s here you can chat and get to know someone, so make sure you attend whatever activity is happening post-run. 

Another tip is to invite someone you’ve got eyes for on a date to your run club. One of the reasons why run clubs have such potential power for dating success is that running releases endorphins. If you go for a run with your date, there’s a chance they’ll associate you with those good feelings being released in their brain and want to keep hanging out, be it after the run or on another date. 

It feels like run clubs are very much of the moment and probably won’t be a fixture of Australia’s dating scene for years to come. If you’ve been sceptical about heading along to a run club it’s worth trying out while the trend is surging in popularity.

These informal clubs are a great way to meet new people and even if going to a run club doesn’t result in dating success, I can assure you through my running journey that thanks to endorphins, a bad date at a run club will always be better than a bad date elsewhere.