The Ritual of the Run

“Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished.” –Ulysses S. Grant

Like many athletes, runners often have rituals or superstitions that play into their mental strategy. I have several that I utilize as part of both my training and racing to keep me mentally engaged in what I am doing and have common threads translating across both the training and ultimately the execution of a race. Some of these rituals I am passing on to the girls I coach.

Rule of Threes:

The rule of three’s is big for me… my first 10K I ran in 1:03:13… I’ve come a long way since then, but that was a big deal for me and reminds me how far I’ve come. I feel extra lucky if my bibs have three’s or six’s or nine’s… big number for me. Once I even requested a different bib when I checked in for the race. The races themselves – 5K is 3.1 miles, 10K is 6.2 miles, half marathon is 13.1 miles… you see the trend here.

When I train, I wear a lot of black. I don’t exclusively train in black, but very often it’s the theme of my workout clothes. When I run races, I wear black as well but started incorporating a bright colored jersey: neon yellow, hot pink, electric purple.

September 17, 2010
Omaha Corporate Cup 10K Official Time: 44:30

I wear a necklace that has three diamonds in it. Rarely do I take it off.

Power of the braid: Mentally, I have to prepare for runs and effectively psych myself up but remain calm and alert. For every race I’ve run, I have a braid somewhere in my hair, quite often one long braid down my back. Again, braiding, three parts… While I braid my hair I recite “The Husker Prayer” in my head and thread the pieces of hair together. “Dear Lord, the battles we go through life, we ask for a chance that’s fair. A chance to equal our stride, a chance to do or dare. If we should win, let it be by the code, Faith and Honor held high. If we should lose, we’ll stand by the road, and cheer as the winners go by. Day by Day, we get better and better ‘til we can’t be beat…WON’T BE BEAT! (I also use this prayer with the soccer team I coach. They also play games with a braid somewhere in their hair.  See below!)

At my first 10K, one of the safety pins on my racing bib got stuck on my shirt and ended up tearing a hole in my jersey. I put it in the coin purse of my wallet and decided that for every run after, I would use that safety pin as one of the four to attach my bib. So I use three event safety pins and one of mine.
Lincoln Mud Run August 2010
Some rituals are happy accidents… for the last year; I have had a Sugar Free RockStar Energy drink (http://www.rockstar69.com/) before each race. The combination of RockStar and Captain Crunch race the morning of the Lincoln Mud Run proved a potent combination for me. I got second in my age group and 5th woman overall!
Pre-race breakfast
Lincoln Mud Run 2010
Post Lincoln Mud Run
The most important ritual is to finish every race and to cross every finish line. Because ultimately, everything I am doing in preparation is to ensure that I finish.

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