The Flossing-Running Connection

Here’s a simple truth: My flossing game tells me everything I need to know about my weekly running routine. If I have managed to saw that thread between my teeth morning and night for seven days straight, I can tell you for certain without even checking my Strava that my mileage for those seven days is pushing forty miles. I’ve definitely either made it to the track up at McCarren Park one morning for some speed work, or the pedestrian incline on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge for a hill workout.

If I have pulled that string between those hard-to-reach molars twice a day, I’m sure I also met up with Kellz and Ellz on Wednesday eve for a RHTB (run home to Brooklyn), went out at least two mornings before sunrise for a run with Cookie the dog, hit the gym two or three times for low-impact cardio on the ’mill or elliptical and a solid upper-body workout to boot. No doubt I also worshiped at the Church of the Sunday Long Run with Dee for at least fifteen and didn’t confuse her with a vague description of where and when we were going to meet up on the West Side Highway path.

If my flossing activity has been so intense that after I finish up the final stretch of a 55-yard container of mint-flavored waxed string one morning I go to the drugstore at lunch on the same day to to replace it so I’m set for the before-bed cleanup, I can tell you with my eyes closed that I did a Tuesday evening tempo run with one-mile warmup and cooldown bookending a solid four or five miles at half-marathon pace. I also sorted out my bulging drawer of race shirts and got rid of all that didn’t bring me joy, mended a tear in the inseam of my favorite tights, sorted out the box of running gear and gimcracks in the closet so I could find what I needed when I needed it.

If I have been doing the proper finger rotation and unwound to a fresh bit of floss every few teeth, I know I have also been doing a proper post-run shakeout jog with my sons every morning in a timely trip to school and not a stressed-out “oh shit we’re not gonna get there before they shut the door cuz neither of you imps would get off the Xbox and get your school clothes on when Mom and Dad asked you to.” Heck, if I’m flossing right, no doubt I am showing my boys the proper way to play Fortnite and do the Fortnite Floss Dance.

If I am exhibiting in the morning and night visit to the bathroom mirror all the proper dental floss moves to stave off any annoying future commentary from the dental hygienist, I could also tell you—if my fingers weren’t shoved into my mouth—all sorts of colorful details for all my runs that week, because I would have written down thoughtful notes after each run in a running diary I’ll enjoy rereading some day in my old age.

And if I’ve kept up enviable twice-a-day flossing work this would ensure that my whole tooth-cleaning routine has also incorporated not just the full two minutes of brushing but the knee-strengthening exercise recommended in past issues of this newsletter of standing on one foot for one minute while brushing, then switching to the other foot for the second minute (it’s harder than it sounds).

But if I’ve only managed to floss a couple times—okay, only once—here’s another simple truth: My running for the week will have been a hit-or-miss shit show. I would have been so overwhelmed with life that I forgot until Wednesday to congratulate Kellz for a weekend marathon triumph. I maybe went two or even three days straight without even managing to squeeze in a run or trip to the gym. I ate and slept like hell. And I definitely would have left the writing of this website piece until almost eleven-thirty on the night before it’s supposed to go out.

It’s the truth, man. Flossing tells all.