Why Running Superstitions May Be Holding You Back

Today, I want to get a little personal about your running and I want to pick on you a little bit. But don't worry, I'm going to pick on myself as well.


Today, I want to get a little personal about your running and I want to pick on you a little bit. But don't worry, I'm going to pick on myself as well. I want to tell you that some of the little things that you do to get ready to go run, some of those little superstitions you have, maybe you always wear those dirty socks, whatever it is may actually be holding you back.

I'm Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri.com and the host of this show, Runner's High, where we talk about everything running and endurance related. So if you like running and you've got running superstitions, which is why you're here with this video, hit subscribe. Stick around with me for more episodes every single week.

So I want to talk about superstitions today. And sometimes we wrap these in the veil of this is just my method. Like this is just my ritual. This is the thing that I do that makes me perform the best. I experimented a lot with rituals and routines and superstitions and all those kind of things in college, just trying to figure out what's the secret formula to get the most out of myself. And one of the things that developed is somewhat like it was seemingly inconsequential.

It pointed to a bigger issue, but I grabbed onto this particular habit and took it into the future. Was eating ice cream before run. The very first time -- No, maybe not the -- Yeah, no, the very first time that I broke 16 in the 5K on the track, I'd eat almost a half gallon of ice cream the night before.

Cheap ice cream, which is important in this story. And basically what I had done is carbo loaded with ice cream. And that points to a bigger issue I was having, which was just under fueling very common for decent runners to under fuel. So if I looked at my diet on a whole, I probably could have dissected that. But I just went, "Oh, I ate all this ice cream and then I went super fast."

I did not continue to eat like a half gallon of ice cream every time I went to run, but it was like a ritual that I continued on for several years post-college, including an incident where I had eaten a pint of Ben Jerry's the night before the Hy-Vee triathlon. I can't remember the 2009 or 2010th time, but then just my stomach was churning the next morning. I really needed to poop basically. And we were on this bus getting shuttled into the venue and I could not get off I squirming so bad. It was terrible.

My point being that, like, I latched on to this idea of I needed to eat ice cream when really the issue was I was under fueling and it led me to a place of it was probably causing me problems in some cases, like with the Ben and Jerry's. In this particular case, low fat, high-sugar content ice cream was that original thing.

Ben and Jerry's is very good ice cream, so it's much higher milk content. Not the same thing led to GI issues. Additionally, milk is an inflammatory food, so it can cause an inflammatory response which reduces working ability, muscles, digestion, all those kind of things. So I grabbed on to this superstition of I need to eat ice cream to have my best, you know, a little bit of a treat, too.

But the point of my story is I want you to think about what are the things you're doing. Are the conclusions that you've come to, accurate conclusions from what you're doing? I'm a big fan of having a ritual, having a method where, you know, like leading up to the race. These are the things I'm going to do. We have a list basically leading up to the start of a race, whether it is a running race or a triathlon.

With the triathlon, we would have a literal physically printed list of this is the time of how long it's going to take me into the venue when I'm going to the bathroom. Like everything, I'm a big fan of having those things. But within that, it's good to examine like, is this having the effect I want it to have? Is there anything else that can replace it? And should I be doing anything else instead if it's not doing the thing that I want it to be doing? Because we as humans look for patterns.

That's kind of where these superstitions come from, you know, there is throwing salt over our shoulder or whatever it is, not walking under ladders. You know, all these weird superstitions. We look for patterns and we grab onto things and sometimes they're erroneous. Like they don't -- They're false, for lack of a better term. They don't provide the actual intended effect that we want them to say, like those magnetic bracelets that people wore for a bajillion years, I'm sure still where there's no actual effect.

Sometimes there's a placebo effect of things, but it's important to examine those things because if we can't, we can sometimes become a roadblock to ourselves. I get back to my own story. If I continued to say I must have ice cream, then I can probably end up causing myself more of GI issues, which slows down your race, and then you're going to have a bad day.

And then I would not be examining the larger nutritional component that I needed to be hitting of getting the right macros and making sure that I was fueled properly for races. So that's kind of my diatribe today. I want you to look at what are your superstitions. Do you have any and are they actually having the intended effect that you want them to have?

So thanks for checking out this episode. I hope you subscribe for more episodes in the future. If you do, I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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