Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How to Prepare for a Running Date

How you can enhance your attractiveness when running.

Key points

  • Similarity is a strong predictor of romantic attraction.
  • People of dissimilar immune functioning from us tend to smell more pleasant.
  • Women prefer men who make larger sweeping movements when walking.
Source: Ljupco Smokovski / Shutterstock
Source: Ljupco Smokovski / Shutterstock

If you are a runner and you are seeking a date, where might you look? We know that similarity is a strong predictor in romantic attraction; therefore, you may think about a dating app or dating site that is used primarily by runners. Alternatively, you could join a running club and possibly meet someone there who shares your interest and passion for running. If you then suggest to someone that you go on a running date, there may be a couple of things you might consider at the time of your run that may increase your chances of meeting again for a second date.

The colour of your shirt

It is possible that the colour of your running shirt may make some difference to how attractive you appear. For example, it has been found that women are attracted to men wearing the colour red. In many nonhuman species, red is a signal of status in males, and females have a preference to mate with males of high status, because this offers them greater protection and a more comfortable life (Elliot et al., 2010). Similarly, in primates, red enhances male attraction to females, and this is also the case with humans, with men finding women wearing red more attractive than those wearing other colours (Elliot & Nieta, 2008).

How you smell

Obviously, take a shower before you go on a running date. Remember, this is a date first and a run second and you don’t want to turn up not smelling good. However, a person’s natural odour is also very important in the attraction process. The way we smell naturally is related to our immune functioning, with those of dissimilar immune functioning tending to smell more pleasant to us than those of similar immune functioning (Garver-Apgar, Gangestad, Thornhill, Miller & Olp, 2006). Ultimately, this results in us being more attracted to and preferring to have children with those of dissimilar immunity to us, and children inheriting this combination of different immune functioning will then be afforded greater protection from disease. There is clearly little we can do to manipulate this, but it does give some clue as to how body odour affects attractiveness.

Conversation and humour

Probably everyone says that they desire someone with a good sense of humour. In fact, it is unlikely that you have come across anyone who is seeking someone with absolutely no sense of humour. Indeed, people who were asked to outline the characteristics they required in a partner consistently said that they valued a good sense of humour (Bressler, Martin & Balshine, 2006). A running date should, therefore, be a chatty date, where people are able to test and get a sense of each other’s sense of humour.

Humour is important for several reasons. First, it is obviously rewarding and more pleasant to be in the company of someone with a sense of humour. Second, humour similarity indicates a degree of rapport and empathy, which are important in attraction. Third, spontaneous, witty humour signals a degree of intelligence in men. And fourth, possibly even just telling a joke where you don’t really know how it is going to land conveys a degree of confidence in men, which is also attractive. Therefore, thinking about humour is clearly very important.

Movement and gait

To some extent, the way in which we move is an indication of our muscle tone and motor control. The ability of a person to properly coordinate their movements, especially when running, advertises information about their age, health, and energy levels. There is one study that has shown that women prefer men who make larger sweeping movements when walking as more attractive (Provost, Troje, & Quinsey, 2008). Therefore, because the way we run can reveal information about our health and fitness, this can also affect our attractiveness.

What not to do

First, if you are on a running date, again remember this is a date and not a race; therefore, don’t run any faster than is comfortable for your running partner. This is not going to impress them and may have the effect of leaving your date feeling inadequate.

Second, most of the potential mistakes and errors people make on a date come from what they talk about. Therefore, don’t raise topics where you are unsure of your date’s opinion. Things such as politics or religion are off-topic. Also, don’t talk about dating generally or, even worse, your own dating failures. Remember, your dating résumé is being revealed when you talk about your past.

Third, in the course of your conversation, it is perhaps not a good idea to say that you’ve looked up your date on social media. No matter how innocent, early on, this may still seem a little like stalking.

And, finally—and people often do this—don’t fail to realise that your date might actually like you, or alternatively fail to realise that they may not.

Happy running dating.


Bressler, E. R., Martin, R. A., & Balshine, S. (2006) Production and appreciation of humour as sexually selected traits. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27, 121–130.

Elliot, A. J., Niesta Kayser, D., Greitemeyer, T., Lichtenfeld, S., Gramzow, R. H. Maier, M. A. & Liu, H. (2010) Red, rank, and romance in women viewing men. Journal of Experimental Psychology General. 139 (3) 399–417.

Elliot, A. J. &. Niesta, D. (2008) Romantic red: red enhances men's attraction to women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95 (5), 1150–1164.

Garver-Apgar, C. E., Gangestad, S. W., Thornhill, R., Miller, R. D. & Olp, J. J. (2006) Major Histocompatibility Complex Alleles, Sexual Responsivity, and Unfaithfulness in Romantic Couples, Psychological Science, 17, 830–835.

Provost, M. P., Troje, N. F., & Quinsey, V. L. (2008) Short-term mating strategies and attraction to masculinity in point-light walkers. Evolution and Human Behavior 29. 65–69.

More from Martin Graff Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today