Ten Crazy Things Runners Do for Good Luck

Listing the strange superstitions that runners follow for a competitive edge.

runnerRunner image via Shutterstock


For some reason, superstition seems to follow runners throughout their careers. I’ve been around the sport long enough that I’ve heard of some strange ways that people will charm lady luck. Have you heard of these 10 approaches?

10. Wear the same pair of socks throughout the season … without washing them.

9. Spit on the bottom of your shoes before a race.

8. Wear a phiten titanium necklace to ward off bad chi, made popular by superstars like Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher.

7. Don’t wash your hair the night before a race. (Popular variation for men: don’t shave leading up to a race.)

6. Crinkle your bib number before putting it on. (Note: This method of bringing luck is no longer advisable with the B-chip timing built into the bib.)

5. Write your goal time down on your wrist in permanent ink.

4. Run a certain number of miles the day before a race.

3. Make sure to do an even number of strides.

2. Trade in your number for a “lucky” one (for example, one that ends in a 7 versus a 13).

1. Wear your hair a certain way.

Note that some of these approaches are more spiritual in nature, so I am not in a position to determine whether they work or not. But I think No. 5 and No. 1 may be the only two that have a true psychological or physiological advantage. Setting a goal and saying it out loud (or writing it down) makes a person mentally committed to it. It will not automatically make you run faster to write it on your wrist, but if you direct your training toward a certain goal every day, you’re bound to come close. As far as wearing one’s hair a certain way, this one has the potential for a physical and mental edge. Certainly, some hairstyles are cooler than others, so thermo-regulation can play a factor. Other hairstyles can easily unravel, which could be annoying during a race and disrupt an athlete’s focus. Then again, some people feel psyched up by putting their hair in a fancy updo, giving that slight psychological advantage of being completely dialed in to the race.