Monday, November 17, 2014

Hey Teammate, You Cute!

Should you date your college teammate?

 I get asked all the time, “So, Phoebe, I have a huge crush on a guy on my track team. Would it be a bad idea to date him?”

The short answer: Yes, it is probably a bad idea. And this is coming from someone who dated a teammate throughout college. And it was/still is awesome. So you should also probably not take my advice.

Why: There’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And I’m no math major, but that’s one positive and 2 negatives. Consensus: Negative.

Let’s play this out:


“But Phoebe!” you say, “Kenny is so cute, and we get each other, and he’s so easy to be around. Plus he runs a 4 minute mile!”
Point Blank: Runners make good couples with other runners. You see how hard each other work. You both understand each others’ weirdness, and you both can have highly emotional conversations completely in numbers: Baby! I ran a 2.01 and the first lap was in 63 and I closed in a 28. I can totally run 1.59, and it was my fastest opener of all time. Let’s go out to eat salads to celebrate my new fitness!

I’ve compiled this list of benefits of a runner dating a runner:
         1.     You’re both exhausted! No more feeling guilty for only watching the first 15 minutes of movies anymore!
         2.     Tradsies massages. Your calves will no longer feel like marbles are embedded in them!     
         3.     You’re priorities are the same! (1. Running 2. Eating 3. Sleeping)  
         4.     You are both weird and don’t care about general public opinion!
         5.     You both will have a for-real cheerleader supporter at meets! Move over, mom, there’s a new #1 fan now!
         6.     You pass the fart-barrier much much earlier than in other relationships. No censuring your true self anymore!


This is where it gets a little dicey.

    The “Let’s run together” issue.
It starts off so innocent, “Hey baby, let’s run together today!” It sounds so sweet, but it’s not.
This leads to some, uh hum, predicaments—lets play out the scenarios:

For Boyfriend:
Boyfriend runs girlfriend’s pace to be chivalrous. This makes boyfriend slow. Slow makes boyfriend unhappy and less attractive to new girlfriend. Bad news.

Boyfriend one steps girlfriend to make sure the pace is good for him. Boyfriend looks like ass hole, and girlfriend boycotts dates and running together.

Boyfriend runs with girlfriend. Boyfriend’s teammates accuse boyfriend of being whipped.

Predicaments for girlfriend:

Girlfriend runs too fast, gets hurt, becomes depressed from not running. And running-deprived runner girlfriends are totally neurotic. Plus, Boyfriend no longer has cheerleader at meets

Girlfriend isn’t running with teammates. Which means teammates are most certainly analyzing their relationship on the run. 

The you-are-running-good-and-I-am-running-bad issue
If you two can get on sync and both run great, it’s awesome. If you are on opposite plans, one of 
you is jealous and/or depressed. If you guys can get over your immaturity and be happy for one another while personally being down in the dumps, you’ll probably get married.

    The how coupley should we be issue.
   You have to want to be the same coupleyness. I’m talking PDA here. And even the most slight      PDA= you will get made fun of by your team. “Will you hold my hand?” turns into a internal struggle… angry significant other vs. butt of the joke of the team.


This is the potential break-up. I would say “inevitable break-up” but runners have a higher success rate than most couples it seems! Probably because we are weird/awesome!
Let’s think of a normal break-up shall we: It sucks. You cry, and then go though some post-breakup-depression ritual (for me, this was playing Xbox Connect Dance Central 2 for hours on end), delete them from all social medias, try to delete their phone number (but you have it memorized, so its no use), and try to not run into them ever again until you eventually feel human once more.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but that plan is impossible (barring quitting the team, making all new friends, and starting your collegiate social life all over—which is tempting, but stupid. Don’t do this!). You will see this person every day. You will have to be happy for them when they run well. You will have to keep it together when they move on.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do you have to see them, almost all your friends are mutual (because you probably don’t have time outside of school and practice to make individual friends, so your entire party invite list is the University track roster). Now what? Do you divide friends? Do you become like divorced parents with custody of friends every other weekend? Do you just fake everything being normal? Not great options here. Plus you feel like everyone is analyzing your behavior (which isn’t true, but you can’t help but be extra sensitive in your post-breakup-depression).

If you are going to do it (which I know you, you are going to give it a go) here’s my advice:
    1.     When at practice, you are teammates only.
    2.     When at meets, you are teammates/family only.
    3.     Make sure you get enough sleep.
    4.     If you break up, it only sucks for a while. And your teammates only support you.
    5.     Exes of current teammates are off limits. 

(Also, this post is not applicable to post-collegiate athlete couples. Those couples usually work great.)

Bottom line: “Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” a great quote, but if I had to guess, Alfred, Lord Tennyson never dated someone on his University track team. 


  1. All successful relationships hurt bad at some point. That's because no relationship can succeed without expanding our hearts to include another person's realities - and that's tough, tough, tough.

    This is why there should be a relationship license, minimum age 25. Any young and it's just testing. Oh hell, yeah, there's the guy in high school whose career and life mate were mapped out for him at age 17. He now owns a string of supermarkets in Tucson. But then he wasn't a weirdo runner and his wife was always soft and cuddly.

    I'm very grateful to be 72 and have the perspective and actual experience that the best relationships are friendships and that romance is ridiculously overrated - which author was it who wondered who would want to sustain such a draining emotion for years?

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  3. PW - Met my "teammate" at a track team party in Andy Holt - 37 years later its still good. Guess I am the outlier.

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