Nutrition Running Rituals: Why Pre-Race Routines Really Work

Running Rituals: Why Pre-Race Routines Really Work

By: Robyn Baldwin

Do you have a pre-race routine or good luck charm you hate running without? I started pondering the pre-race routine or good luck charm phenomenon in the racing world and dived into understanding a bit why we have them.

Routines keep us on track, they allow for predictability before an event (race) we can’t predict an outcome to. It allows our brains to stay centered and focused.

“Routine basically gives us the mental freedom to think about what’s actually important. That way we don’t have to think about all the mundane aspects of life,” says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

So no matter how weird, how odd, or plain normal according to today’s society. Let’s celebrate the routine & good luck charms that allow us to put our best foot forward.

Personally, I don’t have a good luck charm I wear racing. I never wear the same socks or outfit for every race. Although my heart rate monitor and road id bracelet are standard apparel they don’t seem like good luck charms.

From a nutrition standpoint, I tend to have the same breakfast before a road or obstacle course race. I start my day with warm lemon water followed by Fibresmart and then eggs and bacon or oatmeal. When traveling for races I can easily pick up a bowl of oatmeal from Starbucks (without the water) or a grocery store and use a coffee machine in a hotel or kettle at a cottage to boil hot water to add. I always have my coffee and then I’m ready to go.


When it comes to good luck race charms or pre-race routines there are plenty. I recently polled my Facebook audience and asked what their weirdest or most unique pre-race routines or good luck charms that they wear to race. Needless to say, I got some amazing responses from the road running and OCR community.

“I run with a photo of my kids and grandkids that’s on my phone case in every half or full marathon I’ve done. I wouldn’t call it for luck; they are with me through the hardest moments of the race, and are my source of strength.” – JP Hernandez

“Cup of hot coffee is so necessary to get the rid of those errrr… pre race jitters…” – Sylvie Manaigre

“I wear an orange cheetah hair tie.” – Andie Clement

“Oatmeal before a race, always have to eat that! And a braid in my hair to keep my baby hairs out of my face!… oh! can’t forget a hug and kiss from my man” – April Cockshutt

“I wear socks for a shake out run the day before and then wear them again for race day” – Emily McHugh

“Hot lemon water and oatmeal are a must! I used to race in the same black Nike hat, but looks like it finally started to fall apart.” – John Bartello

“I carried my “24-hour Desire Chip” with me the entire 126.6km …. This is a chip (medallion) they hand out at AA meetings to people who are attending their first meeting, or for those who have a desire to stop drinking, or are re-confirming their commitment to sobriety” – Jean-Paul Bedard

“I always listen to early 90’s alternative as I’m driving to a race. PJ, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains gets the endorphins going…..that and my musical tastes stopped developing in ’96” – Jay West

“I always get a haircut a couple of days out from a marathon. I know it doesn’t make me faster but every little bit helps, right? I also write the names of my wife and daughters on my left arm… when the marathon gets in its final stages I look at the names for inspiration.” – David Daze

Find more ways to build on your own training routine with more from Robyn Baldwin.


  1. I go find friends that are racing in same race and I hangout. My running friends keep me focused & give me swift kicks when needed

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