A Conversation with an Olympian and the Gum He Chews

What do you get when you cross a stick of gum with caffeine and an Olympian? You get Run Gum, the creation of Olympic 800-meter runner Nick Symmonds, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with via Skype this week. For those of you who don’t follow track and field, Nick Symmonds is a bit of a trendsetter. Not only is he one of the best 800-meter runners in the United States, he is a huge advocate for runners’ rights, trying to make a semi-professional sport professional. He runs 60 to 70 miles per week to train for a race that takes 1 minute and 43 seconds. That alone is fascinating in what it reveals about the importance of aerobic metabolism for short races, but I’ll save that discussion for another blog post.

This time, we talked about something else. Tired of the feeling he got in his stomach from gulping caffeine-loaded energy drinks, Nick used his biochemistry degree to create Run Gum, a natural alternative to energy drinks that maximizes the absorption of caffeine sublingually — along with B vitamins, Taurine, and sugar alcohols for taste — without having to drink anything.   

He chews the gym for a couple of minutes before he runs, spits it out, and off he runs. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it works. Research shows that mouth rinsing with caffeine or carbohydrate can improve both endurance and repeated sprint performance. Seems that our brains are pretty smart — they can sense when stimulants and nutrients are in our mouths and, in response, make changes or adjustments, even without the stimulants and nutrients being ingested. Pretty remarkable.

I’ve never been a gum chewer, never learned how to blow bubbles with my Bazooka bubble gum with the Bazooka Joe comic strip on the wrapper. But after talking to Nick, I’m going to try Run Gum. Perhaps it will slow down the aging process for me and get my legs a little closer to what they were when I was in my 20s. Of course, that’s still a lot slower than Nick, who has run 1:42.95 for 800 meters and 3:56 for the mile.

Get your Run Gum at https://getrungum.com

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