Sunday, February 22, 2015

My 5 Pre-race Rituals

Like most athletes, we runners are a superstitious bunch. Or maybe it's just me. There are things I absolutely must do in the days leading up to the race and I am certain I'm not alone. Sure, there are the things I do to help prepare for the race: taper, hydrate, eat clean, etc. But then there are the things I do that, in all honesty, probably have no effect on my performance. Since some friends and I are headed to Phoenix this weekend for the Phoenix Marathon, I thought it would be fun (and only slightly humiliating) for me to compile a list of my must-do pre-race rituals. Keep in mind, this isn't a "How to Prepare for Race Day" post. See my preparing for race day posts I did for the Carlsbad Marathon last month (this one and this one). This is a list of the silly and only-slightly-helpful superstitions and rituals I do before a race. To clarify, superstitions are items you have to wear, touch, etc., in order to be successful. Rituals are acts you do before an event that you believe will ensure success. Going through even the most ridiculous rituals is a way to deal with nerves. We have only so much control over what happens to us during a race, especially a marathon. Rituals and superstitions give us a little bit of control. Feeling like we're in control of something can help ease anxiety and fear. Of course, we need to keep things in check. If you can't carry out all your rituals, it doesn't actually mean you'll fail. You will be ok! At least I hope so ;)

Edited to add that I've linked up with the Tuesdays on the Run link up hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere. Thanks for reading!

Paint my toes. It's always a good idea to trim your toenails the night before your race. Even though your shoes should be large enough that your toes don't hit the top of your shoe, too-long toe nails can cause other troubles such as cutting the neighboring toe. I not only trim my nails but I paint them too. And I paint them red. A few years ago, I came across a number of articles describing research into what makes athletes successful. A lot of the research actually looked at the color red and when athletes wear red, they often win. Red is a color of dominance, after all. This may be the reason why I chose red as my company's color :) So while I may not outwardly wear red, I have it on my toes and it's a subtle reminder to myself that I will kick butt!

Wear my Go Meb shirt to bed. I got the above Go Meb shirt several years ago at the expo for the New York City Marathon. Sketchers, Meb's shoe sponsor, was handing them out and of course I needed one. Meb Keflezighi is one of best American distance runners in history. He won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics (which was the best an American man had done in over 30 years), has won the New York City Marathon and most recently was the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in over 30 thirty years when he won last year. I think Meb's lucky number should be 30. Anyway, at first my Go Meb shirt was just another sleeping shirt since it's 1000 times too big. But over time it's become something that really inspires me. I wore it to sleep before a race that turned out to be a great one for me and it's been my pre-race lucky charm ever since. I don't know what I'll do when it's worn to threads.

Image from imdb.com
Mindless TV and Social Media. Most people don't like to wake up too early before a race so they can get as much sleep as possible. I don't usually sleep well the night before a race so I'm always up early with enough time to kill to watch TV. So while I'm eating, I watch mindless TV which typically includes reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210 on the DVR (don't judge me). Honestly, I can't even describe why I watch this show. I know it's awful. I do not believe it was the best show ever made. I think it's just a comfort thing. I watched it when it was first on TV when I was in middle school until its bittersweet end after I graduated from college. Watching it before a race comforts me and eases my nerves a bit. And I've been known to think about its ridiculousness at low times during a race. It has taken my mind off hard efforts more times than I can count. Why couldn't Dylan stay with Brenda? Why was Steve such a dork? How did this show stay on the air for so long? These are some of the things I've pondered during races.

And when I'm racing out of town or don't have a way to watch my beloved 90210, social media fills the space nicely. Mainly I linger on Instagram. As you can imagine, most of the people in my feed are athletes of some sort and it's pretty motivating to scroll through everyone's pics of their runs, races, motivational quotes and more. There have been a few quotes that get stuck in my head and I can chant them to myself throughout the race. It helps tremendously so you Instausers, keep posting your inspirational stuff!

Visualization/Meditation. This is one ritual that can actually help your race. Visualization is something sports psychologists recommend to athletes regardless of their ability and competitiveness. Everyone can benefit from visualizing their performance. It helps get you into the right mindset and even prepare the brain for competition. This can ease nerves and when you "see" yourself succeeding, you get a boost in confidence. I will start the whole visualization process well in advance of the race so I can start mentally preparing for it. I picture myself getting things together the night before, going to bed, getting up, eating, getting to the race, warming up, running, etc. It helps me feel more at ease with everything because I can "see" that it all works out. Meditation just helps center my focus rather than get all worked up about ALL the things I need to do for the race. It helps me prioritize what needs to be attended to at that moment and not worry about what can't be attended to until later. I highly recommend it as a way to ease stress not only for races, but life.

Scream. You read that right. I scream as a way to relieve stress. I'm not talking scary screaming at the top of my lungs. I let out some yips and yells here and there as I'm making my way to the starting line. I try to be discreet about it when I'm by myself because I don't want to scare anyone :) But when I'm with friends, I can typically get them to join me in some way and I definitely hoot and holler with my running program participants before their races. If I can't scream, I'll disguise it as singing. I'll sing silly songs as a way to relieve stress. I feel like it really helps me relax and it's just become one of those rituals I have to do before that gun goes off.

What are some of the rituals you perform before a big event, running or otherwise? If you race, what are some of your pre-race rituals?

52 comments:

  1. I love that you have these rituals, and I think they're adorably dorky. I especially love the 90210 re-runs. I, too, enjoy the show - mainly for its nostalgia! I've taken to wearing my Honolulu Marathon Finisher shirt to bed. Only actual finishers got the shirt and it's just a simple cotton one, not a technical shirt, so not one I'd wear for training or racing. But it certainly comforts and inspires me. I don't really have any specific rituals before a race, other than to lay all my gear out the night before, take a picture and tweet it! :-)

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yay, another 90210 lover! And tweeting your pre-race gear can be considered a ritual! I bet you have some that you don't realize you do before your races. I bet you'll think about it now before your next race!

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  2. Love this. Love the idea of wearing read polish! I am headed to the Paris Marathon in April and I was reading this weekend that red nails are very fashionable over there...looks like I'll be painting them red for good luck :) I'm an early riser too and do the same thing with mindless tv and social media before hand! I don't really have any pre-race rituals surprisingly! Great post!

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    1. You should totally paint your nails red! Maybe even incorporate the French flag ;) I hope you have a fabulous time in Paris!

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  3. I'm surprised the toenail polish Is so popular. I've seen so many stories about runners damaging toes or losing nails....

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    1. That's why I trim my nails, so I don't damage or lose nails. The polish is just for fun :)

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  4. I don't have many unusual or interesting pre-race rituals. I like to eat pasta the night before a race and set out my clothes. I usually have soda the morning of a race instead of coffee.

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    1. Having soda before a race is kind of like a ritual. In fact, if you tend to do the same things before every race, I'd classify them as rituals. They don't have to be odd to be a ritual!

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  5. Wait a minute! I did not sign up for 90210. I signed up for watching Spirit of the marathon the night before the race! Love you and your bright orange (hear me say that in a Jenn accent) shirt! Mamaste!

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    1. Don't worry I won't subject you to 90210 ;) Mamaste!

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  6. As an athlete, I do have my rituals. Same breakfast, same morning routine. I do trim my nails but I like to treat my feet to pedicures after a big race so I don't paint them.

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    1. I don't get pedicures often. I don't want them to remove my well-earned calluses ;)

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  7. I am doing Phoenix, too! I hope that we have a chance to meet. I don't have many lucky items or rituals anymore. I used to have a lucky outfit when I first started racing. It was cotton (read: I am old.) and it disintegrated. I am going to try to visualize blazing down the hills with you! Holla! :)

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    1. Yay Erica! Let's definitely try to meet up. We're hoping to get to the #itsgoingdownatphx meet up Friday night. If I don't see you, have a great race!

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  8. You made me smile with this post! I don't think your weird for watching 90210, I used to love that show when I was younger. Good memories, I haven't seen it in years, kinda makes me want to watch it again haha.
    I don't really have any rituals, not really. I take my time getting ready in the morning, I call it being lazy, LOL But I do have what I call my "lucky" pair of undies that I wear:) I don't exactly remember why or when I started, but I found a pair that were seamless and just started wearing them in a few, after that it kinda became a thing so I made sure I always brought them for race day:) I wore them for the last 20 marathons for sure, and I have kept them for when I can run my next, LOL I only wear them to race, I am afraid eventually they will have to be replaced, guess then I will need a new pair of lucky undies:)
    Fun post, hope you had a great race weekend!!!

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    1. I think wearing lucky undies counts as a race superstition/ritual. I love it! Maybe you should get a back up pair now! :)

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  9. No pre-race rituals. Just a good night sleep and an early meal. I wake really early in the a.m. because I just can't sleep. I am already a pretty organized person, so I have everything out and ready the night before.

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    1. Maybe being organized is your pre-race ritual! :)

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  10. I like the scream part! Funny, but that is a stress reliever! I do like to have everything laid out the night before so I don't worry about anything. Oh, and an ice cream cone the night before with chocolate :)

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    1. It's funny how much screaming helps. Or singing when I'm trying to be discreet ;) I'm jealous of your pre-race ice cream cone. For me, ice cream + running = an unhappy Jenn.

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  11. I hear you about watching mindless TV. For me I think it's about giving myself time to truly wake up. That's interesting about the color red, I never knew that.

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    1. For me, the mindless TV helps keep me from stressing over the race. It's a nice distraction.

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  12. I love that you have rituals, especially painting your toe nails! I usually only just lay my clothes out the night before and hope that my training prepared me to do my best!

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    1. I've already organized all the pre-race details so the rituals help keep me from stressing needlessly. They really help!

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  13. I actually don't have any pre-race rituals or superstitions. I just do my best to sleep well, eat the same breakfast as always, arrive in time, etc. Just boring stuff. I loved reading your list!

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    1. Thanks! Eating the same breakfast before every race could be your ritual!

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  14. I love the idea of going through specific rituals to get you all prepped for your race. Painting your toenails red is really fun. It's one of those silly, but meaningful to you type of things that may or may not make a difference in the end, but if it helped you get into a great mindset about the race then that's all that matters!

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    1. Exactly! It's all about going through motions that are comforting and allow you to relax so when you get to the start line you haven't completely exhausted yourself with stress!

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  15. I love all your rituals! I really don't do anything in particular. Just TRY to eat right and get some sleep!

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    1. Trying to eat well is a pretty big thing to focus on before a race!

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  16. I've always thought of red as a power color. I wear red lipstick whenever I want to feel like a winner! I love 90210 too! I don't know why either! When it started my mom wouldn't let me watch it because I was only 10! But I would sneak and watch it, was way too young for it. Once I was old enough I never missed and episode. Steve was such a dork with that curly mullet he had! Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!! Man that was an awesomely bad show.

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    1. Yes Ginger! The curly mullet! And how in the end, he was the one married with a kid and the voice of reason! Donna Martin graduates!!

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  17. Man I haven't watched 90210 in years! I wonder if I'd still think Brandon was as cute as I thought back then? :)

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    1. Yes, he's still as cute as you once thought ;) Though I never realized how self-righteous he is!

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  18. Love weird pre race rituals! Taking any guess work out of the night before/morning of is key (for me at least) in calming some of the pre race nerves! I am dead set on believing that 1 or 2 beers the night before is the thing that helps me run better. And I don't drink the carby beer...I'm talking PBR :)

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    1. LOL! There you go! Those are your rituals!

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  19. I agree with the toes. I typically get a pedicure the week before my race. I like my nails short and I didn't do that during this Ragnar I just did. I am pretty sure my nails were too long and I may end up losing a couple. Yuck! They hurt so bad. Those are all great race rituals. I also try and have oatmeal with pb and almond milk before every race. Boring but I guess it's become a habit.

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    1. Oh no! I hope your tootsies feel better soon. And no ritual is boring if it works!

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  20. I love reading about people's pre-race rituals :) I think watching mindless tv and going on social media is a good idea - perfect for taking your mind off the race and pre-race nerves!

    I don't really have any pre-race rituals other than taking a hot shower (I know some people that don't shower before racing) and eating my usual breakfast. I know, super boring!

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    1. I've showered before races before. I definitely understand why many people do. I guess I'd have to give up my 90210 for a shower ;)

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  21. I love the variety and creativity of your pre-race rituals! I have never thought about the power of the color of red, but I am definitely going to keep that in mind in the future. And I also love 90210--so no shaming from me. :)

    I don't usually practice pre-race rituals unless it's before a half- or full-marathon. In those cases, I do the typical boring stuff like laying my clothes out the night before, carb-loading, etc. One ritual that I have that might be considered a little unusual is that I always drink a pint of beer the night before a race. Extra carbs!

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    1. Yes you should now add wearing something red to your pre-race routine! And there's nothing wrong with enjoying a pint before a race!

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  22. I love the red nails ritual! I might have to make sure that I paint mine red before my next big race in just under 4 weeks!

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    1. What is your next race? You'll do well if you paint your nails red ;)

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  23. I get ready for bed early as my #1 pre-race ritual. If I can't sleep I play Candy Crush Saga or surf the internet on my phone until I'm ready to fall asleep.

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    1. I never got into games on my phone but that's a good idea. It's mindless enough to ease my nerves a bit!

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  24. I love that you have such specific rituals. Other the certain clothes and food, I really don't have anything. I'm going to try that red toenail thing!

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    1. I have to trim my nails before a race anyway, I might as well make a statement with it ;)

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  25. Great rituals! I love the red nail polish one! And I'm a big fan of cheesy reruns, my favorites are Buffy and Sabrina the Teenage Witch! :)

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    1. You know, I never got into Buffy. But with crazy schedules, I've had to log a lot more treadmill miles so maybe I'll add that to my watch list!

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  26. Hmm, I think I should get more red race gear now! I admit I use to love 90210 ( and even have that first dvd series you've showed) but I honestly can't tell you the last time I watched an episode on tv. I watched one of the first episodes years ago and though "why on earth did I think this was interesting"..lol

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    1. Oh it's so bad! Especially when they're trying to be all dramatic. But it such a comfort thing to me. I can't explain it. But it's on the Pop channel now, in case you're interested ;)

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