In a conversation with the informant, SE, we discussed his time running in high school and a pre-running ritual he observed every time.
SE: “There’s a saying to never stretch your calf muscles before a race. Something my dad told me that he learned when he would race in high school.”
Me: “Why not?”
SE: “There’s a superstition around keeping your calves tight so that you’re like more springy. And I’d tell my teammates, but they wouldn’t listen.”
The informant is a long time runner who had done cross country all four years of high school and now runs for recreation. His dad was also a cross country runner and is a recreational runner now as well. He still doesn’t stretch his calves before attempting a speed trial to this day, as it is so deeply engrained into routine.
After going on a run together, I saw he was stretching out, but didn’t stretch before hand like I did. This prompted a conversation where I was let in on this superstition.
It’s unclear whether or not there is a real science to back this up, but it has clearly effected his racing as he placed extremely well in races in his time racing in high school. Regardless of the scientific backing, it clearly impacts how he views his running capabilities and has cemented into the way he views the sport.