Sole Mates: Running for Love by Lulu Le Vay with Susan Winter for Runner’s World UK

I’d be lying if I said, at 42 and single, I didn’t have some dating experience. Over the years, I’ve courted an array of the male species, from geeks to crusty rockers. As far as box-ticking goes, I’ve never been one to hover, biro-in-hand. Not like other girls I’ve encountered, who have reams of compulsory requirements relating to height, age, job, property ownership, shoes and hair (he has to have some). I’ve been easy to woo with just a bewitching grin and, though I’ve been known to reject men based on their record collections, all the other stuff never really mattered. Until now.

Thanks to running myself into better shape – four marathons, nine halves and what feels like millions of 10Ks in the last eight years – all this has changed. The endorphin-charged heights of fitness have not only improved my figure and sense of wellbeing, they’ve also narrowed my choice of partner. Now I have a box that must be ticked. Trainers will only impress if they’ve ripped up long distances rather than just the occasional dance floor.

It’s not about me preferring to get my hands on a more toned physique, but more about sharing a core interest and a partner showing their body and mind some respect. Running has become such an intrinsic part of my life I am now simply not willing to compromise. These days, relationships start to pick up steam when running dates become a regular occurrence -sweat and tight leggings, what’s not to like?

Is this stringent box-tick narrowing my opportunities? Perhaps. But for now, I’m just going to have to risk it and hold out for my personal best. And the growing number of fitness dating sites such as Fitness Singles and The Running Bug, plus the example of a couple who connected via RW’s online forum and recently got hitched, tells me I’m not alone.

There are many ways our love of our sport can cross with our love lives. Perhaps you’re a single runner looking for a relationship, other than with your size eights. Could a shared interest in pavement-pounding be the spark, or even – as in my case – a non-negotiable box to tick? Perhaps you’re in a relationship and running is the third party in your crowd. Either you’re the victim of your partner’s sweaty affair with wicking fabrics, or you’re a runner whose other half resents the‘me time’ you spend with your running shoes.

If so, you may need some help to ensure your passions coexist rather than collide; that said footwear can nimbly dance through the relationship minefield of early starts, early nights and injury sulks. Over the following pages, we’ve gathered a combination of real life experiences and expert input to help you keep running happily ever after.

Advice from Susan Winter, relationship expert as seen on Oprah, on sharing a hobby:

Connect through running

With conventional means of future-mate contact, each person can be relegated to the awkwardness of hunting for some sort of conversational connection. Exploring natural settings, such as running clubs, is a better way to meet an appropriate partner. Here two people can make decisions about each other in a positive environment.

Common ground

Having similar values, goals and lifestyles creates the glue for partnerships to flourish. A shared passion for running creates a connection that defines much of who they are as people. Often couples struggle to stay united when these basic factors are too varied.

Slow the pace

Your couples have found the ‘golden key’ to relationship success. They allowed their mutual interest to create the flame that ignited that passion. They interacted with each other being their true, unmasked selves. Running allowed them to meet each other in their natural environment: no pretense.

*This article has been shortened from its original 6 pages