I picked up this month's Runner's World magazine and they had a small article entitled, "Lucky Charm: Rituals that help runners really excel." "Did they write this article for me?" I'm thinking as it seemed to strike a chord. We all have bizarre rituals and superstitions that we believe have an impact on our race day performance. Some are well-founded routines that have worked in the past. I got input from a top runner whose pre-marathon (or long run) meal includes chocolate Cheerios with almond milk--one man's barf, another man's "Breakfast of Champions."
The most bizarre sports ritual I can recall is baseball's Moises Alou who urinated on his hands to toughen them up--now that's dedication. And who can forget Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham wearing a woman's thong to break a slump. I have a number of rituals that include laying out my gear the night before, traveling with my foam roller, or going to a movie the day before a race. Over my past few marathons, I have gone with a near bald shave and realize that I'm in good company since Ryan Hall (U.S. 12-K and half marathon record holder) does the same thing before his races. (One of several "secret weapons" mentioned in the article.)
This year, I decided to combine one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day with my pre-marathon shave by getting my head shaved for the St. Baldrick's foundation benefiting Children's Cancer research. A worthy cause and I "killed two birds with one stone" by making a donation and getting my streamlined race day look. Kind of a reverse Samson--but he actually lost his power when his hair was cut. Like Hall, I have also shaved my legs before (Chicago Marathon) and even wear the controversial Power Balance bracelet. Combine that with proven routines (gear, training, or diet) that work over your 16-18 weeks of training and you will have an increase in confidence on race day.
In the four and 1/2 weeks left, my other decision is what singlet to wear race day? I'm debating between buying a new one (my usual ritual) and wearing a previous PR singlet. Either way, every bit helps. What's your lucky charm?
Happy St. Patrick's Day.