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?

A lot of running and a lot of ribs

What a weekend! If you’re a British runner then this weekend gone was bloody fantastic. Nothing makes me smile like the London marathon. Truly love being part of such an awesome community.

But winding back first to Saturday morning and my usual parkrun fun at Netley Abbey. I’d decided to take it somewhat easier (medium effort I’d say) as I knew I had a lot going on the next day with the Southampton Half Marathon and running there to make it a total of 18.5 miles (more on that later). This meant I was quite chilled beforehand.

IMG_0399 The handy tree where everyone hangs their stuff

That was until I headed off for a warm-up with my running club friend, Mike, and his daughter, Kelci who was running her first ever parkrun at nine years old, and we didn’t realise the time until we saw everyone heading over to the start. But we were still all the way across the other side of the park! We had to properly sprint over, ripping off our jackets as we went and tossing them under a random tree to meet the line-up just in time for the start. My heart was thumping before we’d even begun!

I decided to rock out my new Adidas Boosts that I’d won as being parkrunner of the month for Netley (saving myself an incredible £130!!)

Adidas Adistar Ladies

They are so pretty! They’re slightly less cushioned than my regular Mizunos and Brooks so I’ll only be wearing these for short runs and ideally when I’m not running on concrete roads – so parkrun is ideal.

This also handily meant I was matching!parkrun matching outfit

Small things, eh!

What was funny about the parkrun was how many volunteers we had. Because obviously it was the London marathon the next day and we had the Southampton half and 10k it meant lots of people were saving their legs. This also helped with a very quick clear down!

Anyway, my parkrun time was 22:05 which I was happy with. My running this week has gone really well. Honestly, who the hell am I!? The only hard things I’m finding are my gym sessions which are a) boring and b) hard. Running seems to be the easy part funnily enough. The gym sessions I truly believe are keeping me in good shape and injury-free so stay they must, though I might drop to one session a week as the weeks continue and mileage climbs. I can always pick it back up again full throttle post-marathon.

Mike’s daughter did very well but was pretty shattered after her first ever three mile run. She had a great finish though and the look in her face was one of sheer determination. Well done Kelci!

The rest of the day was same old same old, apart from having a little trip to West Quay shopping centre with my dad. My mum is away so I was suspicious when he invited me out shopping with him. What? Shopping? You don’t like shopping? Is how I responded. Ahh yes, the new Apple Watch was out…he wanted to have a look and feel.

IMG_0413Personally, I’m not won over by the Apple Watch. I have far too many watches now to need another one (my Vivofit, my Garmin, Polar watch and normal watches!) Plus my iPhone does everything I want it to and the Apple Watch doesn’t have GPS so I couldn’t even swap it for my Garmin (assuming of course I could even afford one of these – ha!) But my dad loves his gadgets so was in his element.

As it was the Southampton Half the next day a few of us from my club had arranged to go out for some carb loading that evening but due to several reasons it just ended up being Mike and me. It was lovely and chilled and a far better way to get a good dinner in than me being on my own at home (and let’s be honest, I’d have probably just gotten an Indian take away…).IMG_0415I went for the chicken Caesar flatbread which was perfect. I didn’t feel overstuffed (which is always the temptation) and it was delicious (Caesar never lets me down!).

I was feeling very relaxed about the half marathon the next day because I wasn’t racing it. I’d planned to make it into a long run after discovering it was 5.5 miles from my house. This was perfect considering I ran 17 miles last weekend and all the roads were going to be closed anyway to get into Southampton. Mike (yep, him again!) graciously offered to take my bag with him the day before so I had a spare set of running clothes, warm clothes, my bib, food and drink when I got there. He also works at Southampton Solent university which is all of five minutes from the start and said I could use their facilities to get changed in. I mean, seriously how perfect! He was doing the race too and I had planned to run with him and some other friends from my running club so it worked out very well.

Except I did get stressed the night before because I was running a route that I’d never run before (and I’m notoriously bad at navigating anywhere), it was a hilly route and I had a set time to get there. This meant a rubbish night sleep. I gave myself plenty of time and left at 7.30am on Sunday morning having checked my route a zillion times, but felt very ‘naked’ without any of my race things.


But the route went perfectly, the hills weren’t half as bad as I’d imagined and I got there in plenty of time to meet Mike and co. I was instantly de-stressed and got myself ready in real toilets in Solent University. It was a cold morning so I was grateful to have somewhere warm to get sorted. I’ve never felt so relaxed before a half!

IMG_0419 I hadn’t had breakfast before I left but had decided that because I had an hour and a half to wait until the half began that I’d need something easy beforehand. I found I had a High5 Energy Bar and went with that. It was chocolate orange flavour, which isn’t a flavour I’m big on, but it went down well and I felt good. I also had some water with a nuun tablet in.

I’ll do a full race recap in another post so I’ll leave it there. After the race I got a lift back, got myself into a lovely hot shower and ready to meet my dad for lunch. Both of us are meat-lovers so the obvious choice was Ranchos Steak House which would cater to his love of steak and my obsession love of ribs.

Dad and daughter RanchosAfter 18.5 miles I was sooo ready for food! Because I’m that obsessed I went for a half a rack of ribs to start and then ribs for my main. Go big or go home 😉 It’s just what I really fancied so I went with it.

Ranchos FarehamAnd chocolate fudge cake for dessert. I was stuffed, but hugely satisfied. My dad enjoyed his meal too and it was a lovely dad-daughter lunch outing.

When I got home and I just immersed myself into my recorded London marathon coverage and two separate Paula Radcliffe programmes. One from ITV and one from the BBC. The BBC was more of a celebration and was a lot happier, but the ITV was gritty at times and more of an unblinking look into Paula’s ups and downs. I had no idea about the relationship with her husband being under such scrutiny and the media attention surrounding it.

I also didn’t realise they’d show that unfortunate moment in the London marathon where she had to stop at the side of the course because of tummy issues. Despite those tummy issues though she still finished the marathon in a time that tops all the latest female times today (2:17:42). Seriously, that is hardcore. What I admired most was how she spoke about that unfortunate incident. She was so down to earth about it and not fazed at all. It was just one of those things that happened and she had to deal with it. Massive respect.

I’m very sad I didn’t get to run it this year but honestly 2016 I am ready for you!!!

Have you ever run the London marathon?

Who’s your sporting idol?

What do you love about being British (or whatever nationality you are!)