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!
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!