Race-day Rituals

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.


Interview Transcript:


Interviewer: I know you run a lot of races pretty often. Do you have any pre-race rituals or lucky items you contribute to your success?


Interviewee: Before my very first race I made a pesto pasta, with broccoli, onions, and peppers the night before. In the morning I always had a small bowl oatmeal a cup of coffee, and like 3 Glasses of water. I did really, really good, so I consider it my lucky meal and make it before every single race I run, and only before races. And I always wear the same socks when run my race and I only wear them when I race. Ummm….And what else?


Interviewer: Why would you contribute is like a lucky meal or socks.


Interviewee: I would say the socks… well I would say the meal is one that’s like where I feel like…decent. And then…. But all of them were like I just I want to kind of keep it… because a lot of changes and… No matter what changes in my life, whether I change my race, or I get a different this or that or whatever I want to keep some things the same and the meal is something I enjoy it and it makes me feel good and also, I’m like I did well the first time I did it. I did really well uhh or had like a good race and so after that I was like I don’t really want to change it or kinda looked back at my what I did, and I was like: What do I want to keep, what I want to change, and I decided I wanted to keep the meal. Ummm…and, so I would say really well, and I was like I’m going to keep this and hopefully somehow it contributes. And for the socks, they’ve been the same pair of socks that I’ve worn every time I set a PR. And whenever I don’t wear them, I seem to do worse. So better safe than sorry, you know?



In folklore, this idea of a “lucky item” can be fit into the genre of superstitions/folk beliefs. There is no way to prove that it’s the meal or socks that actually help him in his races, but to him, they consistently do. The informant mentions this himself by stating that he considers them as his lucky meal and lucky socks because he has done well every time. By doing so, he doesn’t explicitly call them lucky, but rather he seems afraid to risk changing them and not having the same performance. It could be a simple coincidence that his lucky socks just so happened to be the one’s he was wearing when he set his PR’s, but it could be further analyzed by seeing if the socks have better cushioning or compression that help him maintain his speed. In this particular case, the belief in luck seems minimalistic.