How I broke the “nothing new” race rule — and survived

  • This was printed in June of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the seventh installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

Longtime runners advise to “do nothing new” on race day. No new shoes, no new foods

or drinks, no new clothes, no new deodorants, sunscreens, blister protection salves, or

anything that can otherwise irritate your body, internally or externally.

But I decided to make the classic rookie “mistake” of wearing new shoes in a race – and

it turned out to be a very good decision.

My Reeboks had been giving me blisters on the tips of my toes and the outsides of my

smallest toes on my long (double digit miles) runs.

I finally decided to find another pair of minimalist shoes and fell in love with the super-

flexible, super-comfortable Nike Free 5.0, which also features a hidden spot under the

insole for a Nike+ shoe pod. The shoe pod measures footfalls and links with my Nike+

watch to track the distance of a run, even if I were running on a treadmill. (The Nike+

watch relies on GPS to track distance.)

I fitted my new Nikes with Lock Laces, a bungee cord-type lace that stay in place with

plastic locks so that you never have to tie them (or worry about them coming untied in

the middle of a race).

I ran 1.3 miles – just 10 percent of my race distance — in the new Nikes two days before

the Zombie Runner San Francisco half marathon to try them out. Professional runners

should be shaking their heads at me right about now.

But I’m happy to report that I came out of the grueling 13.1 in my new Nikes with no

blisters, something my Reeboks were guaranteed to give me.

I also wore a new pair of sunglasses that day. They were a sportier pair then my everyday

glasses, and I was glad that they didn’t slip off my head during my two-hour-long race,

nor did they give me a headache.

My hydration belt was also new. I purchased a $40 iFitness hydration belt – that is, a belt

that holds two small water bottles and has a pocket big enough for a cell phone, keys, an

ID and credit card, etc. — a few weeks before the half marathon. I ran with it twice, but

found that even though it was the smallest sized belt they sold, and it was adjusted to the

smallest setting, it was still to big for my now-tiny waist and hips. (Surprising,

considering how big around I got in the final months of my last pregnancy.)

So the night before I left to San Francisco for the race, I exchanged it for the $50 Nathan

Speed 2 hydration belt. It fit much better. I tried it out during my 1.3-mile Nike test run

and found it was much easier to grab the water bottles and slip them back into their


So ignoring the “nothing new” rule — at least when it came to my shoes, shades, and belt — was a wise choice.

I stuck to my usual routine in every other aspect that day, eating a banana and drinking a

small cup of coffee before the run. I wore clothing and socks that I had worn numerous

times before. I slathered a blister protection balm over the balls of my feet and on my

toes. I wore sunscreen that I had put on plenty of times before. I put water in one sports

bottle, and water enhanced with Mio Fit electrolyte liquid in the other. I packed my

favorite energy gel, Gu’s Tri-Berry, in my belt pouch.

My race went well, with nothing ailing me except a tight IT band, which I was expecting.

Ultimately, my rookie runner’s choice to ignore seasoned runners’ advice worked in my


Still, as a semi-seasoned runner (hey, I do have one half marathon under my belt) I would

advise sticking to the tried-and-true rule, unless, like in the case of my Reeboks, what

you’re currently doing or wearing is not working out for you.

But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


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