Foot racing -- one of our oldest sports. And nearly all those who race would like to improve, whether up with the elite or struggling back in the pack.

Having run in several hundred races through the streets and in Masters Track and Field Meets, I've improved my chances with the following procedures:

  • worn warm, flexible sweat clothes on training runs. Then, only at race time, would strip down to running shorts and singlet. In a race, one wants to "feel" ready to go all-out.

  • along this line, never ran the day before an important race, except when in more than one race in a track meet. It helps to be fresh and psychologically eager to run.

    Ever see people running with small weights in their hands or on ankles? They may be building strength, but it's better to do that in the gym. Weights cause slower leg action; something a runner wants to avoid. As famed Emil Zatopek put it, "I wanted to learn how to run fast; I already knew how to run slow."

    On hot days with the sun heating up the pavement, I learned (the hard way) to wear a white cap and light colored clothing. He-man characters running bare-chested can pay a price if their sweat evaporates early. A shirt retains sweat longer and will create a refrigerator action.


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    A cap is needed on a cold day, too. Then, a runner wants to retain heat as best he or she can. I once ran without a hat in a 5-mile race called "The Frostbite Run" on a very cold December day. Afterward, I couldn't remember anything about the race except red cones at the turnaround. A retired doctor friend said hypothermia had probably set in.

    What to eat on race morning? An energy bar about three hours before race time and a small package of stuff called Gu shortly before starting. Hey! If one thinks they work, they do!

    We'll cover more of this next time. Meanwhile, some presidential comments:

    Can you name the three men who held the top job in the Oval Office even though no one ever voted for them for president? One of them who jesters considered the other Father of Our Country came into the world on today's date -- March 29.

    John Tyler got himself elected vice president to William H. Harrison on the Whig ticket. He then assumed the presidency after good old Tippecanoe Harrison gave a two-hour speech in the rain, causing death from pneumonia after serving only one month in office.

    While serving out the term, Tyler managed to get the Whigs and Democrats mad at him so that neither would nominate him to run again. But perhaps he had other cares. His two wives, first Letitia, then Julia presented him with a total of 15 children. That could mean a lot of floor pacing,

    Oh! The other two veeps-to-president for one term: Fillmore and Arthur.

    Reach Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.