Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

I Run, Therefore I Am - Nuts

Gatorade on My Cereal

Published November 26, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

When I started reading and collecting running books a few years ago, I quickly sought to classify and categorize them. First came athlete biographies -- from Amby to Zola -- then race histories -- from Comrades to Dipsea. Training books ranging from "your first 5K" to "your fastest marathon" were everywhere, while George Sheehan's philosophy and Hal Higdon's satire entertained the soul.

So, when I started reading Bob Schwartz's new book "I Run, Therefore I Am - Nuts," I discovered a new dimension to that state of euphoria in which runners spend their lives. In a mere 250 pages, Schwartz captures the multifaceted life of the runner, poking fun at our way of life as only a runner could. With bragging rights for twenty marathons and a 2:42 PR, he has certainly experienced the humorous side of running about which he writes.

Schwartz divides his book into ten parts on training, racing, mindset, skills, nutrition, the marathon, injuries, aging, competition and motivation. In turn, each part contains a handful of chapters, with each chapter focusing on one incident or topic.

Thus, he recalls a Thanksgiving Day race, in which a spectator takes it upon himself to direct the runners in the wrong direction. As the pack follows the leaders down a dead-end street, the hilarity of turning around a few thousand runners becomes apparent. Aptly nicknamed "follow the leader - he knows a shortcut", that turkey trot incident is all too common in urban and suburban races alike.

His early recognition that "we runners are different" takes on a graphic description of many eccentricities that I firmly deny. Who hasn't poured Gatorade on his corn flakes for breakfast, taken a shower in a new Gore-Tex running suit to test its water resistance, or passed out race

T-shirts and pocket-size pace charts for Halloween? Better yet, "nothing like standing in the middle of the road in your birthday suit to assist with the conclusion that you might be a tad too tired."

Commenting on Tegla Laroupe's double at the Sydney Olympics, running 10,000 meters three days after the marathon, Schwartz presents a practical list of what most runners do. We lie on the track, stretch hamstrings, munch on candy bars, drain toe blisters and cut down to three naps per day.

A la Edward Murphy, Schwartz presents his laws for things that can go wrong on the run. The "Law of Traffic Signals" postulates that the light will always turn red when you reach it. "The Law of Achievement" dictates that the course on which you set your PR will be short. "The Law of Conversation" ensures that a first-time racer will bore you with talk as you try to concentrate before your race.

So, as you look frantically for one more Christmas present for your favorite runner, this zany mix of quips and essays may fit the bill.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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