We all have the same beliefs.
If I wear my lucky socks I may run faster.
If I always put the same foot in my trainer first I’ll do a quicker time.
If I use the same pen I’ll do as well in exams as I did last year.
Does it actually make a difference? Or are we just kidding ourselves with a false sense of security?
To an extent superstitions can be positive. Although they make have minimal direct effect on your performance, the security and sense of assuredness they give you allows you to feel relaxed. The way abiding to your superstitions allows you to go into a race feeling together and in control, may have an effect on your performance, as well as making sure you are comfortable. But, does it really matter which foot goes into your trainer first? Is this really going to make a difference? Superstitions are ok to a point.
Due to my slightly obsessive, OCD personality, superstitions are not ok for me. Yes, I do like to make sure run in the correct socks and underwear, but this is no longer related to me feeling it may help my performance, it is merely down to the fact; I know if I am comfortable I will be more comfortable racing. Fair enough isn’t it?
The really question I asked myself, is, when does it become too much?
As a child at school, and up until I finished my first year at university, superstition ruled my races. My nerves began in the week leading up to the race, if I wasn’t feeling nervous at the start of the week I began to worry something was wrong. I almost began forcing myself to feel nervous on Monday when the race wasn’t until Saturday, as I knew when I was nervous on the Monday once before, the race went well. Therefore, I felt I had to be nervous on a Monday regardless of how I actually felt. Doesn’t sound healthy, does it? This isn’t where it stopped. I had superstitions in every aspect of my life. I remember being in senior school, I would always go into a lesson, and before I sat down I would place my blazer on the back of my chair. Quite normal, but is it really when it becomes a conscious decision? Leading up to a race I would consciously ensure I always put my blazer on the back of my chair, and if on occasion I forgot, I felt this would have a majorly detrimental effect on my performance in my race. This definitely wasn’t healthy! It didn’t stop there. I would get out of the shower, putting my right foot on the floor first, again I would become anxious if I didn’t do this. I would eat exactly the same thing for lunch every day in the build-up to a race, tuna mayonnaise jacket potato, now a pet hate of mine; I can’t bear the smell of it. On the morning of race day I would eat porridge until I felt sick, I hated the stuff, and half a crumpet just to top it off. Surely this was a bit extreme? I had raced well off of it once before, but despite despising it, I would continue to force myself to eat it.
Race morning was the worst. The same knickers were worn, the same socks, the same hair tie. My hair had to be tied in the exact same way each time. Worst of all, was the questions I would ask. I had a list of about 5 questions I had to ask my coach before I set off racing. To begin with I didn’t think anything of it, but as time went on, I find myself asking the questions even though I didn’t need/want to. Why did I do this? It was all for one thing. In the belief it was the superstitions that influenced how I raced. I believed the superstitions to be the main governor of how I ran, not me, the one who put all the hard training in, day in, day out. In my head back then, the superstitions were the most important thing.
Looking back on it now, I realise why this was. It was because I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t trust my ability. I wasn’t confident in the strength and determination I had, therefore I felt the need to rely on something else, superstitions. In retrospect I feel I out ruled the definition of superstition. I went beyond feeling superstitious and I became an anxious wreck. Relying on something I had no control of, definitely didn’t play to the advantages of my personality.
So, am I still superstitious today? Absolutely not. I know the only thing affecting how I run, is the hard training I persistently put in, the strength and determination in my head, and the belief I have in myself. I believe I can perform well, so I am able to push myself to the limit. Superstition has no influence over how I feel. Yes, I do wear the same sort of underwear and eat the same breakfast, but this is not superstition. I can have a variation on a theme, I just know what works, and what won’t upset my stomach, and what clothing I feel most comfortable in. in the end, if I forgot to put on the right sports bra, I know, I will run as well as I could in any other bra. It doesn’t matter. It is my body, and my mind that control how I perform.
Have any of you had, or do still have any superstitions? Let me know what they are!
10 months ago, I was finishing every run in pain, finishing every run upset, and dreading going into the next. My love for running was being tested as I was persistently fighting against myself in an ever-losing battle. I was told nothing was wrong, I was told to keep running through it, I was told this would make it better. But sometimes, what you are told is not correct. I should’ve trusted my instincts and stopped when I knew something was wrong. However, this is in the past, and 10 months down the line I have finally got back racing!
Whilst I will never be thankful for having had to have 10 months out of racing, including 7 months without running at all, I think there are definitely positives that have come out of my time out. Looking back on my injury, and no matter how well running was going prior to it, I think the time I had out was a blessing in disguise. Pre-injury, I was forever wanting to do more, forever preoccupied by my weekly mileage, and forever wanting to run double days. No doubt, if I didn’t get injured at the beginning of the year, I would have eventually ran into trouble.
Now I am back running and have been back doing 3 sessions a week for a month. My sessions are still reduced, but I am on my way back, and feeling stronger than ever. I have now realised that in my case, less may well be more, and, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, cross training has been my saviour. I have switched a lot of my wasted miles for cross training, in order to avoid causing my body any unnecessary damage, which can be avoided by doing other forms of activity. I have also added cross training sessions in to my days instead of extra runs, and I think it is having a positive effect. Whilst my running will still increase, it will remain conservative, topping it up with alternative forms of training.
The most exciting piece of news …*drumroll please*… is, I was finally able to race on Saturday, in the first cross country league of the year. I went in to the race with no expectations, and no pressure on myself. I wanted to enjoy it and see where I was at. Looking back on the race I have definitely learnt a lot. I have learnt that what I am doing is right, it may not be for everybody, but it is for me. I felt stronger than ever and ran my best race in the Surrey league yet. Due to the lack of training behind me I did not have that extra level in my legs, but I feel reassured I will have it back for the next race.
Not only did I feel physically strong, but also mentally. I went into the race confident and in control. After the first 200m I made the brave decision of taking the race on myself. I was not willing to sit behind, gliding at a comfortable pace, I wanted to race, and I wanted it to be harder. I may have led the entire race, only to have been pipped by the two girls on my shoulder in the last 50 metres, but I loved it. I was able to get a proper race out of it. I loved knowing that the training I am doing is going well, and that I had the ability to compete with some top runners. Not doing any name dropping, but I even found out the lady just in front of me is an Olympic triathlete!!
Now, it’s back to training with the hope of getting some more strength and power in my legs before the next cross-country race, and before I head back to the roads. Whilst I may be back running, aqua jogging has not shifted from my schedule, if anything it may stay there forever! Oh, and one last update, after 10 months, I am finally finishing no run in pain, I am finishing no run upset, and I never ever dread going into the next one.
This week is an exciting week, why? Because I’m doing my first race since the beginning of January on Saturday. In my head, it doesn’t seem that long ago, but when I say it out loud, it seems forever ago. It has been 10 months since I last laced up my spikes. It has been 10 months since I last got covered in mud, from head to toe, for the pure enjoyment of it. Yes, you guessed correctly, it is the start of cross country season.
Being a competitive runner, racing is something I and many others long for. You train hard day in, day out, in order to see the results on race day. Sometimes it may not go to plan, other times it may go better than you anticipated, but the feeling I get from racing is second to none. It makes me feel so happy, and so alive in such a short amount of time. Standing on the start line, it becomes about me, my body, and the race ahead. Nothing else crosses my mind. I'm not thinking about what I am going to have for dinner, or what I should write about in my next essay, my mind is completely encapsulated by the race ahead. My mind becomes blank to the worries of the world. Yes, I am nervous, but nerves are good. It shows I care about what it is that I am doing, but it also gives me the extra adrenaline rush I need to run that one notch faster than I usually do in training.
Racing becomes an automated process. Having not raced for such a long time, I feel slightly out of tune with it, but I know when race day arrives, I will know exactly what I am doing. Racing becomes a sort of automated process; my mind is able to operate subconsciously, taking in bits of information that it needs to know, and blanking out all the petit talk that is irrelevant on that day. Race day is about me and the race. It is a positive day that will drive and direct my training, no matter what the outcome. Any result that comes out of it is a positive one that can teach me lessons. It may teach me something I have been doing is working well for me, or on the contrary it may show me something that is going wrong. Either way, I will learn from it, and my use it to your benefit.
Going into a race I always have an aim for myself, whether it may not initially seem obvious. What I thought would need to be a long conversation with my boyfriend to deipher what my aim was, turned out to be a very short conversation as my aim was clearer than I thought . He showed me that this race is as important as any race. It will show me where I am. No matter ‘where I am’ is, it will help me structure my training better, or show me I am heading in the right direction. Racing is positive, and I do it because I love it, so I’m excited to see what the weekend has in store with me. If any of you reading this are racing on the weekend, good luck and enjoy it!
Well this week has been exciting and tiring for sure! I spent 3 days filming for Mizuno. What could be better than getting filmed doing all your training, in your favourite trainers, in beautiful locations?! It was different and exciting for sure, but tiring none the less!
Day one was spent at Woking sports box on their brand-new, pristine and bouncy track. I had to throw my controlling, OCD nature out of the window and ‘go with the flow’. Definitely not something I excel at! Coming from someone who plans every aspect of their day, down to what time I will have a shower, it doesn’t come naturally. This resulted in me asking countless questions, in order to fathom some idea of what was going on. A taxi collected us at 6:30 to take us over to Woking. Filming was scheduled to start at 7, but there seems to be a lot of faff in the filming world, therefore we stared at 9! We caught lots of shots of my run, excitingly I was followed by a film crew on a quad bike. Then headed into the gym for them to follow my ‘routine’, finally I had some idea of what was happening! Then we ended back on the track, catching shots of me giving my best ‘acting’ shot of having to gasp for breathe at the end of a race. Apparently I didn’t look sweaty, so this resulted in me having water chucked all over my face! If it looked effective, I guess why not!
Day Two was much more interesting and exciting for me. With a much more leisurely start, we arrived at the Brecon Beacons at 11, intending to start immediately. However in typical faff style, following on from yesterday, we didn’t start filming until 2pm! Not exactly on time, something I really am not used to!
Having stated numerous times I had a session that ‘had’ to be done, they followed my session on the quad bike, catching natural sweaty shots this time! Not only was I being followed by a quad bike, but the majority of the day was shot on a drone. Sounds very professional and technical. Luckily they understood I wasn’t a robot and couldn’t run for the entire day at every location they desired, therefore I was able to focus on my session with minimal extra filming, and push myself as hard as should’ve done. I was strong to state that if there was any extra shots, it was a single extra shot, not 15 more! 😂 They seemed to get the message about this! We shot in some beautiful locations, with stunning scenery, and of course, in true runner style, there were a few toilet stops in the wilderness!
By the end of another very long day, I was definitely ready for my bed. An exciting and unique few days, to be continued with a few shots of me aqua jogging, not quite so invigorating for the camera! The best part of it, I got free clothes and shoes 💪🏼🙌🏼🏃🏼♀️
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!