Race Day Traditions

As road racing season (“running season,” as I like to call it) is starting to kick in for 2013, I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of my race-day routines.  With all those weekends off during the winter, I’m always afraid I’ll forget some super-important pre-race prep item and (gasp) ruin my run.  Did I forget my iPod?  For me, I couldn’t possibly log miles at my best pace without a beat to motivate me.  Did I forget my heart rate monitor watch?  I rely on that to keep myself at a sustainable pace for longer runs.  Or, oops– I forgot that I can’t drink that second cup of coffee the morning of the race (unless there’s a portable potty right at the start line)!!  Every year I go through “growing pains” of sorts until I get back into my comfortable, traditional race day routine.  Does this happen to anyone else?

While some things have become second nature to me (like remembering to put on my running socks instead of my regular socks on race morning), I have other certain habits– superstitions, rather– that I have to put conscious effort into remembering.  I’ll admit– I do some wacky stuff to get  ready for a race.  Things that might be wacky, but that have the power to tear down my mentality on race day if forgotten.

This got me thinkin’– what sorts of race day traditions or mantras do others have to get ready for a race?  What good luck charms or necessary items do you have to have in order to run your best?  I want to hear what makes or breaks your race day!!

There are several quirky things that are musts for me on race day.

For one, I ALWAYS wear a bracelet when I run a half marathon.  I bought a bag of pony beads and string at Wal-Mart before my first half marathon two years ago, and I still use that same bag of beads and string to make a unique bracelet to wear to each half marathon I run in.  I string 14 beads and assign each bead to each mile (including the .1 at the end).  Each bead is dedicated to something or someone in my life that means a lot to me– these are the things that I run for, the things that I’d never give up on.  When the miles get tough and I want to quit, I just think of the beads on my bracelet and let them be my motivators to get to the finish line.  I couldn’t imagine running a half marathon without my bracelet.

Another is my “lucky banana.”  Of course, there is nothing magical about the bananas that I eat– I just gave them that name to differentiate them from your typical oatmeal-and-bananas bananas, or your average “peanut-butter-and-banana-sandwich” bananas.  These bananas are SO much more.  Actually, they’re not.  But I am always sure to eat a banana before each race I run, no matter the distance.  That’s my “lucky banana.”

Another requirement for me is having a bagel with peanut butter before any half marathon (in addition to my lucky banana, of course).  Not just any bagel– it must be a French Toast bagel from Panera Bread.  And not just any peanut butter– Smucker’s All Natural Chunky Peanut Butter.  This isn’t exactly in-line with my clean eating philosophies.  But the fast-burning, quick energy provided by the sugar and processed flour has yet to do me wrong in a long race (yet being the key word).

So, what are your race day must-haves?  What odd superstitions or traditions do you have??

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