Run clubs are the new dating apps.

If you've been active on Instagram or TikTok lately, your feed — like mine — may be full of reels featuring shirtless men running off into the sunset and women trotting along in matching activewear sets and New Balance 530s. The common theme is hot, young people running together whilst smiling, laughing, and barely breaking a sweat.


Because people are swapping dating apps for the IRL version: running clubs.

As a running tragic and someone who has been part of a run club for years, I wasn't sure about this trend at first. The idealistic scenes on Instagram certainly don't reflect what I rock up to week after week, and the thought of dating someone in my own run club made me cringe.

Don't get me wrong — I've been part of my current club for almost eight years and joining it was hands down the best decision I made in my twenties. Before discovering running culture, I was drinking way too much and dating some questionable individuals I'd swiped on Tinder. I needed a healthy distraction to help break my bad habits. I'd been a competitive runner in high school and still enjoyed running for fitness, so joining a run club seemed an obvious choice.

Watch: The horoscopes tries virtual dating. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

My mum had been suggesting that I join a run club for years before I actually bit the bullet. She had witnessed my frustration with unsuccessful online dating and told me that I was more likely to meet a nice like-minded man doing an activity of common interest. 


I didn't appreciate her advice at the time — but now I have to give her some credit. 

I remember heading down to my first group session on a Thursday evening after work. The coach instructed us to start with a 4km warm-up lap around the lake. This seemed absurd to me (shouldn't that be the whole session?). Fortunately, they did cater for beginners, and I took the 2km option. I don't think I actually spoke to anyone (or noticed any cute boys) at the first training session, probably because I was too focused on surviving the actual running part. 

Fast forward a few weeks and I had made some friendly acquaintances and started joining the group for a post-session coffee. I wasn't much of a coffee drinker prior to this, but it didn’t take me long to start craving my post-run fix. You've got to have a little treat for doing all that running, right?

After a few months, I was regularly meeting my new running buddies for a pre-work jog and caffeine. I had also replaced my Sunday morning hangover with a group long run. By the end of the year, I had been on an interstate trip with a bunch of runners to compete in the Melbourne Marathon. I was so proud of how far I had come, and it was all thanks to taking that first step to join the club.

But back to the dating thing. I have to admit, I haven't personally dated someone I've met within my run club. However, I have seen a lot of romantic relationships emerge out of my club and other run clubs, from hook-ups at post-race celebrations to short-term relationships and long-term romances.

In fact, there are at least five couples in my core group of friends who are in long-term relationships or marriages, that met either directly or indirectly through their run club.

Jana, for example, joined the run club eight years ago because she loved running and wanted to meet new people. "I wasn't looking for a relationship at the time. I was just happy to have the opportunity to hang out with like-minded people and get better at running," she says. "I met my partner through running. We were initially friends, and eventually the friendship turned into a relationship."


Toni and her partner were set up during a long run by a mutual friend. "I never set out to meet someone through my run club. I just fell in love with running and after a heartbreaking breakup it was such fun to run with a great group of like-minded people. 

"Nearly seven years and two kids later and my partner and I still share the same love of running. Running and the run club has bought so much to my life including now my partner and my two beautiful kiddies."

There is of course nothing wrong with the apps (I met my partner on Hinge) — but if you're meeting people face to face, you'll have the opportunity to make friends first and bond over a common interest.

My run club changed my life. All my closest friends now are people I've met through running, and I continue to socialise by getting up early, running and having coffee with friends most days of the week. It fills my cup.

If you're expecting to head down to a running club to meet your next date, then maybe you will. Will the Insta reel expectation meet the reality? Probably not — let's be honest, there's a lot of sweating and red faces, and no one looks that good running, especially when you're just getting started.

But if you enjoy running and have an active lifestyle, trying out a run club could just be the start of something — whether that be romance, new friendships, finishing a fun run or developing a healthy coffee addiction.

Feature image: Canva.

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