One skill every serious runner needs to develop is how to spit. We have all been there. The phlegm is building and taking up precious airway space. A runner has to forcefully expel the mucous and saliva or risk inhaling it and causing more serious issues.
When I was coaching at a high school in south Denver, I went on a run with the varsity girls on a particularly cold and windy day. We were running 7 miles easy so everyone was in a pack. Noses were running and several of these otherwise prim and proper girls were snorting and hocking some pretty impressive loogies. Most of the girls had enough sense to make sure no one was behind them, turn their head sideways and away from the wind before letting it fly. Not Rachelle. Rachelle gave it her best effort but as fast as she was, she had yet to master the art of the spit. She spit an impressively sized phlegm ball directly into the wind and slightly upward. It flew about two inches in front of her face before being blown back and landing half in her eye and the other half on her forehead! Rachelle shrieked calling attention to her situation. When they realized what she had done, the whole team collapsed to the ground in laughter. When order was restored, and the run resumed, the girls shared stories of finishing races with that familiar thick line of spit running from the corner of the mouth all the way to the ear. They decided that they all needed to take spitting more seriously to avoid such embarrassment in the future.
Sometimes even with lots of practice and experience, a good spit goes bad. If this happens in a race it is very important to clean it up before someone gets it on camera! Speaking of caught on camera, some very disturbed individuals have posted videos of my wife spitting on youtube! Who does that? At least she demonstrates the spitting technique of a seasoned professional and does not get any on her or anyone else!
So how is it done? How can a runner master the art of spitting on a run without breaking stride, wasting energy, or getting any in their eye? We have three simple tips that might help.
1. Be committed to the spit. Do not go half way or try to do it slyly. We are runners. We have all been there and we will understand, so go for it! Let it rip with all you’ve got!
2. Time it with your normal breath and stride. This takes some practice, but you want the spit to fall into the rhythm of your breathing and to be to the side of your body with the leg extended backward.
3.Wipe away your mistakes. It is better to wipe away your misplaced mucous than to let it rest on your face for the photographers to immortalize. First wipe it with your hand and then wipe your hand on your shorts. It sounds gross but it could save you potential embarrassment.
If you have further tips to help runners spit like a pro, please leave them in the comments below. Good luck and happy spitting!