– a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief
Confessions: I’m superstitious. Not the step on a crack you break your mother’s back, black cats are bad luck kind of way. However, I have little routines and things I do in order, and when they get messed up, I feel things will go wrong. (Read: I can be a little neurotic. I’m working on it..HAHA!)
I used to show horses competitively. I quickly learned that horses are not superstitious. They do NOT care about what order you do things in, how well your practice goes, or whether you are nervous.
Through showing horses, I did learn to let some of my superstitions go. You can’t control everything. You are going to be so much happier in competing, performing, and just life in general if you can embrace that fact. I still have to practice doing this every day.
I read a book a while back called The Power of Habit. It talked about how Michael Phelps goes through routines before he competes. As he successfully completes each routine, he wins. So he is creating the mental state of success before he even gets in the pool. I loved that, and started to incorporate some routines into running & racing. With the caveat that the world, in fact, would not fall apart if the routines don’t go perfectly. Obviously I’m not an elite runner, and nothing is really on the line when I race. But I’m still human! I’m competitive, and I want to do well….so I get nervous. I think a lot of other runners will agree with me there.
When I signed up for a full marathon (the San Francisco marathon), I knew that I wanted to try to qualify for Boston. I told people who asked if I had a time goal that I was going to train for my BQ (Boston Qualifying Time), but knew it was very unrealistic to qualify with a first marathon. I mean, people try for years. I didn’t want to set myself up to fail with my very first race. That said, I figured if I was going to go for it, I might as well try.
There was my superstition talking – why couldn’t I qualify with my first race? I knew that my training runs were the right pace to hit the goal time. I was afraid to say it out loud, as though that might stop me from being able to do it.
After 8 weeks into training for the SF marathon, my knee started hurting – runner’s knee. I had to reassess my capabilities and dropped the full marathon down to the half. BAD LUCK. Or….a weak right glute that caused my right knee to dip in once my legs got tired. I did physical therapy and got the glute stronger. I did more half marathons. I ate more. I weight trained. And then my left knee started hurting. SERIOUSLY?! It turned out to be my IT band, and it had gotten irritated (not as irritated as I was with it). I started going to active release therapy and got healthy again. Superstitiously, I threw out the shoes I had been wearing, even though they likely had nothing to do with those two injuries.
After getting a new half marathon PR (personal best time) at the Giant’s Half Marathon – I signed up for the California International Marathon (CIM). Training for the CIM did go pretty well. I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to push myself and get the times I needed. About two weeks before the race, the tendon in the back of my left knee started hurting. With such a short time before the race, I decided to take a full week off of running. It felt like all of my hard work would go down the drain. Other people kept posting about their final weeks of training runs on social media for the CIM and I kept dying a little inside. I kept telling myself it was better to get to the start line 95% physically fit than 100% injured, but it was hard to fully believe that. Plus I kept having dreams that I had forgotten how to run on race day (rational, right?).
That was when I found the book, How Bad Do You Want it? by Matt Fitzgerald. He has written a lot of running books, and this one might be my favorite. You hear the quote that the mind will quit long before the body does. The book really backs that up.
It really helped me get the confidence back that I would be okay pushing myself on race day, even if my last two weeks of training weren’t perfect.
I would recommend this book to anyone, running races or not. It has so many fun stories of athletes and helps put things in perspective. Ok – so you hurt, and you are tired, and what? If you aren’t broken, you will be ok. Our bodies are set up to stop us when we are getting close to redlining. Self preservation.
Of course now my next superstition to over come is that I can race another marathon well again. HA!
Some of my routines:
1. Stretch before running. Same stretches on race day.
2. Special race day outfit. Look good, feel good.
3. Eat the same foods – this is mostly for preventing stomach issues, but it is comforting to eat your favorite things.
4. Leopard print hair tie in my braid on race day.
No matter how nervous I am, I can always do these things, and it makes me feel better.
Do you guys have routines or good luck charms? What are they?