Every runner has their own selection of pre race rituals. Whether it be the outfit they race in, what they have for breakfast, or how they wear their hair, there is always something. I used to have countless things I would do before racing, most would say too many, so much so that they were actually superstitions rather than rituals. However, when I came back from my injury, I set myself a clean slate. I chose to only focus on the pre-race rituals that actually mattered; the ones that were practical and genuinely had a benefit.
So, what rituals do I have before a race?
I tend to follow the same food plan the night and day of a race. There isn’t anything superstitious linked to this, it is purely practical. I know what fuels me sufficiently, but also sits well in my stomach when I’m about to race. It doesn’t differ massively from my everyday diet, so I know my stomach won’t be thrown off course.
The night before I also always have pasta for dinner. I have always done this. I’m not too fussy with which sort of pasta I have, just nothing too creamy as my stomach doesn’t always take well to rich creamy foods before running. For breakfast, or 2.5/3 hours before I am due to race, I will have an almond butter bagel and a banana. This is because again, I know it sits well in my stomach and is something I eat most days without a problem.
For pre-race foods, it is very much about trial and error. It is important to recognise that what works for me, might not work for you. So, play around with what you eat before training and racing to find out what works best for you and doesn’t cause you any stomach problems and fuels you sufficiently.
I tend to wear the same pair of knickers for every race. This is again practical- it is all about comfort! I know the pair of underwear I wear for racing doesn’t give me a wedgy or cause any discomfort, so why worry about it. If I just wear the same pair (obviously clean every time!!), I don’t have any problems.
I also always race with my hair in two plaits. I wear it in plaits everyday for training, and even tighter plaits for racing. I know this hairstyle won’t fall out or annoy me, so it is another thing to not worry about. Whenever I put my hair in plaits, I know it is time to run. I feel prepared and focused for the session ahead.
Whilst there are practical associations with all these things, they also have a psychological impact. For example, I know every time I have that pre-race meal, pull on my comfortable underwear, and tie my hair in plaits, a race is just around the corner. As much as it is practical, it also prepares my mind to race. It starts the process of getting me in the zone and mindset to race.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!