Confessions of a Gum-Chewing Runner

Despite the many warnings bestowed upon me by a multitude of well-meaning friends, I always chew gum while I run. I've been told many times that I am going to choke on my gum while running. But, so far I have survived all my runs. Why do I chew gum? Well, it depends on the situation. To be honest, I should probably go ahead and admit that I'm kind of a gum addict. I have different kinds of gum for different purposes. (This is normal, right?) For everyday gum-chewing needs I keep gum in my purse, in my desk at work, in my car, and in several places in my house. The gum in my purse is for breath-saving purposes. After eating, I may need to freshen my breath, so I always keep a pack of Orbit sweet mint gum. The gum in my desk at work serves 2 purposes so I have 2 different types of gum there. Orbit sweet mint gum for "work-out gum" and a periodic breath freshener and Dentyne FIRE (spicy cinnamon) for a quick breath freshener. The Orbit gum has much longer lasting flavor, so it will last through my workout, while the Dentyne is short-lived, but stronger. The gum in my car (and at my house) is my "running gum."

This gum chewing runner's current flavors/brands for various uses.

I have tried a variety of gum flavors and brands over the years, and so far the Extra Spearmint is the clear winner for “running gum.” It is long-lasting, has good flavor, and it just works for me. For those of you who can’t fathom running with gum in your mouth, you probably are wondering, “WHY?” Having gum while I run serves several purposes. The flavor of my running gum helps me feel ready to run, it can give me a distraction, it keeps my mouth from getting dry, and allows me to go further without needing to hydrate. I have forgotten my running gum at races before and found myself needing every water stop possible – even for a short race. With my gum, I can manage a 10K just fine without a water stop – unless it’s really hot out. Does this mean I am more prone to dehydration? I don’t believe so. I am an obsessive water drinker all the time, so I tend to be well-hydrated. The gum just prevents that dry-mouth feeling, it doesn’t trick me into thinking I don’t need to hydrate.

I’m sure, like many of my friends, some of you are concerned about my safety. After all, running and chewing gum is dangerous – or so I’ve been told. I’ve been warned often that I am going to choke. Let me assure you, that I have not choked yet. I have managed to accidentally swallow my gum on occasion and have even ended up having it fall out of my mouth, but so far I have managed to avoid any emergency situations involving my gum. I haven’t even had to cut it out of my hair.

Running with gum is not the same as just chewing gum. Quite often I keep the gum in my cheek without chewing it for awhile and then start chewing it when my mouth gets dry and then put it back on hold for awhile. If you want your gum to last through a half-marathon, that is the secret to keeping flavor for the entire run. And, of course, avoid getting gels mixed in your gum when you take those. That can ruin a piece of gum in a hurry! On long runs I do keep an extra piece of gum on me – just in case. But, I have rarely needed it. I’ve discovered that a fresh piece of gum later in a long run can be a little too flavorful and my stomach may protest.

I have found that there is one major downside to my habit. As I mentioned earlier, I often carry an extra piece of gum with me on my longer runs. This has resulted in me throwing my running clothes into the washer without remembering to empty my pockets of any lingering pieces of gum. On a good day, I will discover the gum somewhat intact in its wrapper and safely remove it without incident. However, I currently have a pair of running shorts with a pocket that will only unzip about 1/4 of the way because there is a well-embedded piece of running gum still hanging out inside. Sadly, I guess that’s just an “occupational hazard” for this runner.

Despite the potential hazards of running with gum, I’m not a quitter, so I guess I’ll just keep chewing and running. I may change my flavors and brands along the way, but I don’t seem to be changing my gum-chewing ways. So, if you see me at a race looking a bit anxious, go ahead and offer me a piece of gum, that may be all I need to settle in to my run.

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5 Comments on Confessions of a Gum-Chewing Runner

  1. On the topic of leaving gum in pockets and then washing the clothes, this has happened to me with one of my kids….

  2. Yay! A fellow gum addict! I purchase Costco size packs of gum to support my habit. Trident Original is my gum of choice for long-lasting flavor.

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. Have you heard of Run Gum?

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