12 Runners Share Their Unique Pre-Race Rituals

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It's safe to say that whether you're a semi-competitive recreational runner always seeking to beat your personal best or someone who regularly participates in marathons just for the fun of it, you likely have a couple of go-to habits in the days leading up to the big day. This can include carbing up on pasta or creating a special playlist for your race, but many runners take it a step further with rituals that are simply superstitious in nature rather than directly related to their performance. For example, I always paint my nails hot pink before a big goal race (I don't always PR, but when I do, you can bet I'm rocking hot pink nails when I cross the finish line.) Here are 12 other rituals from recreational and professional runners alike.

"I always travel with a rice cooker, so I can eat my pre-race dinner and pre-race breakfast in the hotel room. In addition to allowing me to control my portion sizes and eat as I normally do, this allows me to stay off my feet as much as possible the day before my race." -Gwen Jorgensen, professional runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in triathlon

"I always listen to Lindsey Stirling's 2012 album the morning of the race and as I'm warming up. It's something I listen to a lot in training, so it puts me in that mode that it's time to go out and grind just like I love to do all the time—I don't have to be superhuman or do anything I don't already do. I also like to pray and journal my prayers to get my spirit in the right place and focus on why I'm competing." - Sara Hall, professional marathoner

"I like to do some nail art the night before a race—just a way to relax—and I find it fun to be somewhat creative even though the designs don't look nearly as good as if I went to a nail salon. When I race, I also wear a necklace from Erica Sara Designs with a Believe I Am mantra on it saying "strong." I don't want to get so attached that I call it a lucky charm in case something happens to it (for example, I almost lost it when had to cut the chain out of my pony tail snarl after a humid 10K last year!), but it's a good reminder to use a mantra when racing to calm anxieties and keep you focused on being strong and present." - Molly Huddle, American half marathon and 10K record-holder

"I always race in the same hairstyle (side braid into a high ponytail) and with fingernail polish in a color that 'speaks' to the race (sometimes race- or holiday-themed, sometimes just in a color that gives off a good vibe)." - Becky Wade, professional marathoner and author of Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe

"I always eat a Snickers bar the day before the marathon. I started doing this a few years ago for no particular reason, and this past January's Houston Marathon ended up being my best race in years." - Marcia Etheridge, runner in Houston

"I eat six untoasted bagels from Panera in various flavors and with nothing on them the day before a marathon or half. I started doing this after I had a major nutrition fail at my first half marathon in 2010. The next year, I didn't want to have the same problems and I knew bagels didn't upset my stomach, so I went with it. I ended up with a major PR, so I now do this with every half or full I run." - Renata Holland, runner in Houston

"Just for fun, I always wear the same Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion earrings to all of my big races." - Staci Griffith Rogge, runner in Richmond, Virginia

"I drink an Angry Orchard cider with dinner the evening before my races. I happened to do this the night before running my first race PR, and I've since run four marathon PRs (including three Boston qualifiers) and five half marathon PRs." - Mandi McGrath Reynado, runner in Houston

"I always watch the episode of The Office where they run a 5K and Michael Scott downs a bowl of fettuccine alfredo right before the run to carb-load. It's hilarious and helps me relax and not take things too seriously." - Melanie Holeman Byford, runner in Houston

"Before a race, I always write Bob Dylan's lyrics "may your feet always be swift," in Sharpie on my feet." - Jenna Clark Embrey, runner in New York City

"While waiting at the starting line of a race, I'll do the sign of the cross for as many miles as I'll be running (for example, 26 times for a marathon). I do this not only for good luck but to boost my confidence and to appreciate having the ability to complete the race and give it my all." - Omar Vazquez, runner in Houston

"As ultra-marathoners, my husband and I always watch 'One Wild and Precious Life' by filmmaker and ultra-marathoner Billy Yang before our big races." - Heather Foley, runner in Pittsburgh

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