Trick or Feet
by Bob Schwartz
Runners are no different from others when it comes to the
two-prong philosophy of consumption. If something is free - - it'll be
snatched up irrespective of need. If it's free and edible - - it'll be
devoured without concern to content or taste.
This latter principle was confirmed when someone placed a
half-eaten trailer home size container of cayenne/garlic flavored popcorn in
the kitchen of my office building at 8:00 a.m. Just 24.7 seconds later, not
only was the food gone but someone had taken a large bite from the bucket as
For runners, the "free is wonderful" mentality is best
illustrated by an increasingly popular event of race weekends. It's a
combination Auto Show, Star Trek Convention and Culinary Extravaganza for
runners. It's the exhilarating, spine tingling and eye-popping Running
There are few things that excite me more than those words.
I don't pick races on the basis of flat courses, crowd participation or
course beauty. For me, it's the expo. Better know as racing brochure
paradise, free energy gel nirvana and locker room bag heaven. Ah, the bliss
of being surrounded by endless choices of moisture wicking clothing.
I can comfortably reside in the bosom of my running peers -
- encircled with products and methods to make me run faster, lighter and
pain-free. Where else can I learn about the latest workout to increase my
VO2 max to its ultimate genetic capacity while training at a speed beneath
the onset of lactic acid accumulation and improving my capillary density - -
all the while utilizing the latest heart rate monitor and plugging the
results into a new computerized personal training program? Nirvana for
the nylon set!
Free merchandise? I've got trinket overload coming from the
pockets of my new waterproof, reflective, back venting, seam sealed,
body-hugging poly/nylon/microfiber jacket. Can a runner really have too
many refrigerator magnets, keychains, bumper stickers, pens, luggage tags,
hats and water bottles with running related insignias? Never! We are
runners, see us accumulate. Forage forward! Halloween has nothing on my
large overstuffed plastic goodie bag full of running treats.
The intelligence of runners is however seriously questioned
with their total lack of taste testing restraint at expos. It's one thing
to try a little teriyaki chicken at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.
It's quite another to have diligently trained for six months for tomorrow's
race and now you determine it's the perfect moment to break from the strict
training table regime and ingest items never before introduced to the
Unable to bypass the joy of free offerings, runners wind up
putting harissa seasoned blue flour corn chips with glycomacropeptides and
purified cellulose into their body for the first time, all the while washing
it down with an inaugural drink of guava nectar. Rational thought is
quickly cast aside in the face of free chow.
The multitude of product choices available at expos makes
things a little challenging for me as my middle name is Indecisive. I
constantly struggle with the epic question of mini-crew or quarter-cut
running socks. My footwear selections now explode with choices including
microsafe fiber optimum moisture management, anti-blister formula,
anti-microbial agents, bunion protector, high density ball of foot pads,
extra lightweight ultra dense thin sole or breathable elastic mesh arch.
Hey, I have enough difficulty choosing between non-fat, skim, and 1 or 2%
And what would a running expo be without the latest in shoe
technology? It took me ten years and extensive late night studying before I
finally figured out the difference between foot supination and pronation and
thus the technical aspects of modern shoe science can be slightly complex
for me. The shoe section at the expo acquaints me with ethylene vinyl
acetate outsoles with air transfer cushions and graphite roll bars as well
as thermo-polyurethane plates sandwiched in foam with nitrogen bubbles in a
viscous substance inserted in the midsole. Yeah, right - - just like it
After testing out some foot massagers, toe stretchers and
nighttime foot splints, as well as purchasing a few running shoe ornaments
and license plate holders, I make my way past the portable canine water bowl
and reflective vest for pets and exit the expo.
The first leg of my weekend duathlon was complete as I slowly
lugged my bag of treats to my hotel room. Now, I just had to remember to
run that race in the morning.
This story and more in Bob Schwartz's New book: I Run, Therefore I Am - NUTS!