Running Rituals: Results and Re-living Race Day

ROT6 Race Day Rituals

Race Day. For many, it feels like a lifetime ago. The initial quiet and darkness of the morning that fills the air. The excitement that builds and radiates through each nerve as the start time nears. The palpable energy in the air from a thousand conversations happening simultaneously, cacophonously mingling with the music or announcements playing over the loudspeakers. The electricity from the silent potential of what’s yet to come grows–a new race, a personal best record, an unlocked accomplishment. The unspoken camaraderie of one universal goal: the finish line. 

Yet, despite so many commonalities that bond people together during a race, there are staunch camps with dead-set rituals that people need to perform before they feel at ease and ready to run. 

Maybe it’s the warm embrace of familiarity, a reminder of a time when a goal was once accomplished. Or maybe, the routine was borne out of superstition to escape unwanted outcomes and tip the balance towards the most favourable of options. Or it could be the remnants of a habit that can’t be broken. Perhaps, it’s nothing more than a psychological coping mechanism to make sense of uncertainty and chaos in an unpredictable event.  

Whatever the reason, the race ritual is important to many.

In a recent Instagram poll, 68% of respondents in The Runner’s of the 6ix Community stated they had one.

Here are some other ritual-related results:

To Wear or Not Wear the Race Shirt?

Whether it’s to ward off bad vibes, a routine, or just wanting to complete the race before wearing it, the ROT6 community was pretty united on whether to wear a race shirt before or during a race with 87% against it. For those who like to wear their shirt on race day, fear not! If it’s comfortable, embrace it–there is no rule to say you can’t!

Photo by Lisa vhb from Pexels
Banana or Bagel?

Runners seem to be creatures of habit. 75% of those who responded said they had a go-to pre-race meal. Whether it was heading to the same coffee shop to get the same order before the race or embracing something a little more homemade, many seemed to incorporate a source of caffeine, protein (peanut butter seemed to be the popular choice), and a fast-acting carb (like the ever-present race staple banana or bagel). To those who weren’t big on go-to race meals, perhaps what was on your mind was which finish line beer to indulge in instead. 

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels
No One Needs Chafing on Race Day

Runners were a little more divided on their answer when it came to race gear. When it came to clothing, 58% stated they did not have a special race kit item that they always wore. However, for those who might’ve had one it seemed buying and wearing new socks for race day was the most popular choice. 

Speaking of socks (and feet), many seemed to have rituals related to them. Whether it was tapping the soles of the feet before putting socks on, retying shoes before the race, or putting on shoes minutes before the start gun. Socks and feet seem to have an importance on race day beyond just getting to the finish line. 

Shake it, Move it!

At the start line, people seemed to be equally divided into one of two camps — to move (59%) or not move (41%). While the division is evident on race day, it also carried back to the day before the race.  Some incorporated their movements into a favourite short route the day before while others were adamant there would be no running the day before a race. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong and both camps will have run the race with their best efforts. 

The Other Rituals

The gamut of run rituals is vast. Many runners shared some of their unique rituals. While there were many practical ones like laying out a race kit the night before, and curating a fun playlist to get into the right headspace for before and during the run, some were more personal. 

There were beautiful, sentimental traditions like calling a loved one before the race or taking negative energy from the week into fueling the race. Others seemed more energy inducing like taking a cold shower on race day morning. 

Of course, runners wouldn’t be runners without poop rituals and this survey definitely confirmed the value runners put on their toilet traditions. There was an emphasis on necessary and frequent bowel movements before the race to ensure every last bodily fluid was removed lest it interfered with the race. Anything, it seems, to avoid the dreaded during race urgency. 

2020 (and so far 2021) was seemingly the year of the solo run and virtual race. While many remember their routines for the large in-person races, there is no reason these traditions cannot continue on a smaller but just as important virtual route of your choosing. With whatever pre or post race routines are important to you, know that the running community will be together again soon. 

What are you most looking forward to when in-person races resume?