The superstitious runners

Us runners (and sportspeople in general really) are funny people. We have little quirks and beliefs that can make us do and think in ways that in normal life would be seen as odd. If you asked me if I was superstitious I would laugh and say “don’t be daft”. I believe in science, logic and rational behaviours. But on examining my behaviour a bit closer I’ve found that’s actually not entirely true.

I genuinely worried in the lead-up to the Gosport Half Marathon that I would get injured. And not just because I’m injury-prone, but because I’ve never been able to race it due to injury and believed I was (yes, go ahead and laugh) cursed. Every time I mentioned Gosport I would say something like “well, if I get there” or I would touch wood and say “fingers crossed I make it”. This is ridiculous and defies all logic. But I’d still do it.Further to this, I’ve constantly being touching wood, pleading and praying out-loud for my good running streak to continue. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope of good luck. My time to get injured is approaching… despite the fact that NOTHING niggles. Every run feels fine. My legs are working as they should. Yet I wake up every morning and tentatively step out of bed. The running god works in mysterious ways, they might decide to smite me down in my sleep. I could wake up and find my knee niggling or my calf throbbing. So far I haven’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it won’t. THERE IS NO LOGIC.

And I don’t think I’m alone in weird behaviours or worries. I know people who have lucky shorts. People who have to have the same morning routine – and not because that’s what works for them, but because doing anything different might mess with the running universe.

I’ve been running in the same pair of Adidas Boosts for a number of weeks now. They feel fantastic. I love Boosts. But they’ve acquired over 400 miles now and this is dangerous territory for me. I like to change my trainers after around 300 miles because I’m convinced anything more will encourage injury. However I’ve been running so well lately that I’m scared to change. What if these magical trainers are the reason I’m not getting injured? And then I change them, boom! Injury strikes.But I have a brand new pair of ASICS sat waiting for me to transition into. I should swap over to them but I’m just scared.Runners are so easily freaked out and probably over-worry that little bit too much. Just before the start of the Gosport Half there were a gaggle of us runners (the technical term for a group of runners I believe) chatting away trying to keep our mind off being cold. Someone pointed to someone else’s laces and said “your laces look a bit loose”. This panicked the runner and sparked her into a frenzy of lace untying and tying at speeds never seen before. We all then quickly examined our own laces, just in case a loose lace epidemic had begun.

It made us consider what other statements could panic a runner just before the start. I suggested “ooh your knee looks a bit swollen”. Sure to get the eyes bulging and the heart pumping. Or “your Garmin’s just turned off”, or “Where’s your chip?”. Just so many ways to freak a runner out. I don’t advise it.

Before a marathon I always have the same thought when I put my shoes and socks on: “The next time I take these off it’ll all be over”. I always think it and it always amuses me (slash terrifies me). I also think things like “When I next shower I’ll be showering away the marathon sweat” (the best kind of sweat in my opinion). Or “This time tomorrow it’ll all be over”. In a weird way it helps me normalise things and relax me. Like, “This too shall pass”. It’s just a few hours. It’ll be over with before you know it. And life is going on as normal despite your OMG RACE TIME craziness. It’s almost obscene to see normal people out and about doing normal non-running things, or smelling bacon being cooked somewhere – WHO IS EATING BACON WHEN I’M RUNNING THIS INCREDIBLE RACE?? Normal people. It helps put things into perspective. Running, races… it’s all inconsequential at the end of the day. You get a PB, you don’t get a PB, you run a race, you don’t run a race. Sometimes it helps remember these things before things get that little bit too serious, or stressful, or no longer feels fun. I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person!

But us runners aren’t normal people. We’re special. With all our craziness, superstition, over-thinking, over-analysis, over-sharing. And though I do all these things, I’m still happy to call myself a runner. Crazy or not. But, for a little while longer please, can I be a runner and not an injured runner for once? 😉

Do you get paranoid about injuries?

Are you superstitious?

Do you have any pre-race must-do rituals?

7 thoughts on “The superstitious runners

  1. Ah, the trainer dilemma is a tough one- when to start a new pair!
    I don’t think I am superstitious but the one time I didn’t paint my nails before a race, I threw my timer chip in the bin (and only realised just before) and then fell over during the race, so I have now decided that is a priority for me- makes no sense I know!
    Maria @ Maria runs recently posted…A solution for an icy car, too many Christmas trees and not a Christmas jumper!My Profile

  2. Both of my current running trainers are now over 600km of usage but I’m waiting for post-Christmas sales 🙂 I’m not injury prone so I can’t say I’m paranoid about injuries but I definitely get maranoia each time I run a marathon.
    As for pre-race rituals, I just think about the coffee I will have after I cross the finish line. AND I check that my shoelaces are double knotted.
    Lina @ Mind over Matter recently posted…Working with brands: Are you/they really looking for a relationship?My Profile

  3. I must change my trainers after 300 miles, otherwise my legs are sure to fall off or something! I think this comes from an injury-prone past and I don’t like to risk it now. And if I find trainers I like then my next pair will be the exact same ones, but in a different colour. Call me predictable, but it’s like putting on an old friend and feels “safe”.
    I don’t think I’m superstitious, but I am a devotee of the psychological safety wee!
    Allison recently posted…Friday Finds – 1st DecemberMy Profile

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