Days 17 & 18: Don’t Rely on Luck

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If you’re hoping to get lucky on race day, you’ll probably be disappointed because the best way to show up is READY! Even though it’s always better to be ready than rely on luck, it doesn’t hurt to feel lucky on race day!

Race-day shorts. Three pancakes for breakfast. A penny in your pocket. Your pre-race superstitions are probably a combination of ritual and bric-a-brac meant to recruit the race gods to your team. And you swear by them: Those shorts give you superhuman speed, the three pancakes give you climbing power, and the penny…well, who knows what the penny does, really. But it can’t hurt, right?

If you’re the superstitious type, you’re not alone. Mo Farah shaves his head before each race. Serena Williams bounces the ball five times before her first serves. Michael Jordan used to wear his UNC basketball shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform during games.

And believe it or not, there’s science to the madness: German researchers found that people played a better round of putt-putt when they were told they were hitting a “lucky” ball, and people were more confident in their ability to complete a task when they were carrying their lucky charm.

“If you think you’re lucky, then you’ll be more optimistic going into a situation,” says Carol Sansone, Ph.D., a professor of social psychology at the University of Utah.

“Repeating a familiar ritual before an event reduces anxiety by giving the person a sense of control,” says John Johnson, Ph.D., a personality psychologist and professor at Penn State University.

A good luck routine won’t hand you the win, but it can give you a boost of confidence. These rituals can give us a sense of calm and control, but they can also set us back. Before you give those superstitions too much credit, make sure it meets these four criteria.

Ritual Rule #1: It makes you feel calm

Laying out your outfit a day early (flat me) and putting your hair up in the same style can bring a sense of order to the pre-race chaos. “Repeating a familiar ritual before an event reduces anxiety by giving the person a sense of control,” says John Johnson, Ph.D., a personality psychologist and professor at Penn State University.

If your rituals stress you out, find new ones. The best pre-race routines occupy and calm your mind. Consider a new routine: do a warm up or 50 high-knees! After your warm up a few sprints are a great way to calm your nerves and get your legs race ready!

“Part of the reason people run around before a race is to get their heart rate up, but equally important is the calming effect,” says Johnson. “The alternative, just standing around and waiting for the gun to go off, can be excruciatingly nerve-wracking.”

Ritual Rule #2: It doesn’t take the place of real work

If you give your charms all the credit for your luck, then odds are, you’ll stop having it.

“Unrestricted interpretation of luck can have bad outcomes,” Sansone says.

Truly believing your shorts or shoes are magical can lead you to slack off on training.

The bottom line? Your lucky charms are worthless unless you charge them up, and you do that by training, preparing, and working hard.

Ritual Rule #3: It does not control you

If you’re fixated on something beyond your control—like needing to see a bald eagle or the number 7 before every event—then you’ll probably be disappointed at some point. And that can hurt your performance.

“Choose a ritual that you think will work for you, but change it if you do not have control over it,” says Michaéla Schippers, Ph.D., author of the aforementioned Dutch paper and a professor of behavior and performance management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

A good-luck ritual works partly by helping you focus on the feat and ignore distractions. So don’t let it become a distraction.

Ritual Rule #4: You can live without it

Imagine this: It’s race day, and you accidentally tossed your training shoes instead of your lucky race-day shoes into the trunk. Are you worried? Do you fear you won’t run a good race without those kicks?

Relying too heavily on a good luck token can backfire if you’re ever forced to go without it, says Johnson. He knows firsthand: In college, he used the same “lucky” number 2 pencils for every test. On a particular exam day, one of them went missing.

“I felt a moment of crippling fear until I found it,” he says. “That kind of emotional dependence can’t be healthy.” If you ran out of flour and can’t make your customary pancakes, or your penny disappears into a seat cushion, adapt fast. You already put the sweat into training, right? Then you’re all set. That’s the only luck that really matters.

Do you have any superstitions that you rely on for a sense of calm and control? Share them with our group and let’s see who has the most outrageous pre-race rituals!

St Patty’s Day Challenge: Wether you’re racing or going out for a long training run, make sure you wear your green and take a pic for your #CoreCrew! Forget to wear green and take a pic to prove it? Burpees on video! That’s right Crew…wear your green, take a pic and share with STTC or you will be responsible for 20 burpees with video proof!

Don’t skip your long runs. They are an important part of your training and they will pay off on race day! Get in your long training run and wear green for a picture or pay the burpee consequences! 😉

Day 17 exercises:

  • Plank Challenge Day 17 – Panther Plank – :60
  • Warm Up – Leg Swings, Hip Hurdles & Lunge Matrix
  • Long Run
  • Wall Sit – :60
  • Legs Up the Wall
  • Roll
  • Stretch – 7 Key Stretches for Runners

Day 18 exercises:

  • Plank Challenge Day 18 – Side Plank with Rotation & Leg Lift
  • Wall Sit – :60
  • Active Recovery – Easy & Short run, Bike Ride, swim or brisk walk
  • Yoga for Runners (links to yoga options below)
  1. Yoga for Runners – “Unknot Yourself”
  2. Yoga for Runners – “Tight Hips and Legs”
  3. Yoga Poses for Runners

Plank Challenge – Days 17 & 18 “how to” video – Watch the video below to see how our Day 17 & 18 planks are done!

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