Runners don’t always need microchips and high-tech machinery to gain a competitive edge.
For some, like Spokane marathoner Kim Jones, progress comes in the shape of a three-inch strip of plastic costing about 50 cents.
She and dozens of others around the Northwest use Breathe Right nasal strips, those brown, bandage-like things that attach across the nose.
They contain no medication. They use no batteries. Even so, the extremely low-tech strips are earning a loyal following.
The strips force open nasal passages, so runners can breathe in more oxygen and supposedly maintain endurance longer.
Jones wears the Breathe Right when she trains inside her home on a treadmill. On a few occasions, she’s stuck one over her nose and run outside, to see if it cuts down her adverse reaction to pollen and dust.
“I get some benefit from it. But whether it’s really the strip or my mind, thinking it’s working, I’m not sure,” she said.
She first saw them on TV, attached to the noses of National Football League players.
Those players got them from the Pennsylvania man who invented the strips to quiet the snoring that kept his wife awake.
Jones’ first tested Breathe Right when a magazine editor sent them to her, knowing her long battle with asthma.
She became a convert, but still shies away from wearing them in public.
“People look at me and ask questions. I’m not the type who likes to call attention to myself,” Jones said.
“If they made them out of clear plastic, I’d wear one in a race.”