Community What’s Your Strava?

What’s Your Strava?


When Noemie Villemure-Poliquin moved to Toronto, she wasn’t looking for love. Relocating from Quebec City to work on her PhD, the 30-year-old wanted to find a way to make local friends. So, leveraging her passion for running, she decided to start a 6am run club, which is where Adam Lu, 24, first laid eyes on her. The pair soon found themselves running together—but it was clear that the friendship was primed to grow into a committed relationship. 

The pandemic shifted many aspects of our lives—one of the most notable is dating. While people turned to dating apps, now that people are craving in-person experiences, Villemure-Poliquin and Lu’s experience may not be so unique. Are run clubs the new Tinder? Or, more specifically, now that Tinder launched a run club in London that sold out in hours, and we’re getting an event next week in Toronto from the great Conrad Wong, how do we runners navigate this strange new space?

LOVE IN THE TIME OF SNEAKERS: Noemie and Adam always can meet for a runner, even if they’re too busy for traditional “Date Night.”

“On the apps, you almost have to sell yourself,” Villemure-Poliquin says. “You have to create a sales pitch.” Instead, she prefers to meet someone as a friend: a run is the perfect thing.

“When you meet someone in person, you can see how they act and interact with others. I want to be able to see that before dating someone,” she says. 

This is an important aspect that can be missed in the virtual world, according to relationship coach LeAnn Lazar.  “When you are in the presence of someone, your bodies integrate many sensory signals that influence attraction,” she says. 

And while dating apps are by no means being discontinued, research is showing that their usage is slowing. Apps such as OKCupid, eHarmony, Bumble and Plenty of Fish declined in downloads by 16 percent by 2023, according to mobile analytics provider

“While dating apps are still being used, singles are using them more as a Plan B rather than the primary way to meet people,” says Millennial Dating Coach Sheena Sharma.  

Not only do run clubs offer a built-in path to making new connections, but they also speak to another societal conversation that’s prevalent in our modern age: The shift towards leading a healthier lifestyle. Wellness trends such as sleep optimization and sobriety lend themselves to seeking healthier ways to meet potential partners.  

Dating coach Sheena Sharma says a slew of benefits can come from intertwining your search for love with prioritizing your well-being. “Those who are physically active charge their dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin receptors frequently, which can lead to lasting love,” she says. Additionally, she says that those who are clocking regular hours through exercise are also more likely to experience integrity in their relationships. “People who are active tend to be growth-oriented, are able to make decisions with a clearer mind, and have more stable emotions,” she says. “Otherwise, we will be choosing from a place of lack and brain fog, resulting in an incompatible partner and an unfulfilling relationship.”

PARTNERS IN GRIND: Inspiring each other towards difficult goals can add sparks to relationships.

Connecting through running can also lend itself to developing the tools to weather storms that a relationship may encounter, according to Lazar. “Wellness activities are an opportunity for people to connect through a common interest, a healing journey, or life purpose,” she says. “It helps people show empathy towards each other and discuss ‘heavier’ topics earlier when getting to know each other. All of which can lead to more transparency and deeper connection.”

For Villemure-Poliquin, having a common interest in running has strengthened her relationship. As the relationship grew, running became something the couple could always turn to no matter how busy their lives were. “If we don’t have time to meet for a date, we’ll always make time to meet for a run,” she says.

But a word of caution for those thinking of trading in the apps for clubs: “If you start treating it like a dating pool, it creates weird vibes,” says Villemure-Poliquin. You do not want to make your run clubs icky. Creep energy will thwart both your running and your future relationships.

The key is to use your passion—running or otherwise—to further yourself socially. If it ends in romance, excellent. “I encourage singles not to focus on meeting ‘the one’ every time they meet someone,” says Lazar. And while meeting someone at your run club is awesome, according to Sharma, viewing your weekly run meet-ups as a way to get active, and pursue your goals should be the priority—keeping in mind that you never know where it may lead.

“Maybe you won’t find your partner there,” says Villemure-Poliquin “But maybe—maybe—you will.”


Run clubs may be an outlet to meet potential romantic partners, but first and foremost, they’re about making new connections while improving your running. Here’s how your club can foster stronger social connections. 

  1. Social Events. Organize social events outside of scheduled runs to encourage members to connect on a more personal level through post-run brunch, weekend potlucks, or gatherings at a local café. 
  2. Learning Opportunities. Host workshops, seminars, or guest speaker events on topics such as fitness, nutrition, injury prevention, or mental wellness. 
  3. Buddy System. Implement a buddy system or mentorship program to provide support, encouragement, and accountability while fostering connection. 
  4. Community Outreach. Partner with local businesses, schools, or community organizations to host events or initiatives such as integrating running into schools or recreational centres. 
  5. Club Connections. Avoid the clique mentality and connect with clubs outside of your usual go-to. Newly launched provides an interactive map detailing the clubs in your area. 
  6. Social Media Engagement.  Encourage creative ways to communicate such as WhatsApp chats where members can converse about tips, motivation, event photos, or hobbies outside of running.


  1. This is not a new thing. Prior to the widespread use of social media, we met our partners through social activities!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here