The superstitious runner

blance kissing barthez

Laurent Blanc’s strange superstitious ritual

You would have to be in need of a lucky break pretty badly to be persuaded that the way to get it was to kiss a bald Frenchman on the head. But during the 1998 World Cup, French centre-half Laurent Blanc did exactly that believing that the strange ritual of kissing goalkeeper Fabien Barthez on his bald head immediately before each game brought his team luck. Blanc and Barthez obviously knew something we didn’t as France went on to win the World Cup.

It is rumoured that Andre Agassi stopped wearing underwear when playing, after winning his first round match at the 1999 French Open while going commando.

England wicket-keeper Jack Russell kept bad luck at bay by using the same tea bag for every cup of tea for all five days of a test match.

Sports people are a superstitious lot. I only bring this up because when most of us read these stories our instant reaction is that they are as mad as a box of frogs. But if we are honest, we all do it. We all have some strange superstition that we observe religiously but would rather not discuss – don’t we?

 Several times recently I have found myself going through bizarre rituals in the name of luck and I have no idea how they started.

But I have an excuse – my grandmother was raised in a Welsh Chapel household – never cut wood on a Sunday – you know the type? So it is not a total surprise that two generations later I haven’t completely shaken off the fear of superstition.

But now I think it is time to confess. I am going to tell you what my most recent sporting superstitions are in the hope that you will tell me one of yours and so reassure me that I am not alone.

So here goes:

  1. I had a calf injury over the winter and had several false-starts trying to come back. When I eventually made a successful come back, I ran in a red running top. Now I will only run in red – slightly inconvenient because only three of my nine running tops are red.
  2. When I go for a run I have to sit in the same chair in the kitchen to put my running shoes and socks on.
  3. On one of my running routes I go past a house with a strip of grass on the verge at the front. I have to leave the road and run the length of this grass verge. Bad luck not to!
  4. At the end of a run, I won’t stop my watch until one of my feet has touched the track at the front of our house. Running past it is not good enough, my foot has to touch it. I don’t know what happens if I don’t do this. I daren’t try!
  5. I used to publicise my upcoming events on the home page of my blog. The first time I did this, I had to withdraw from the event I was advertising because of injury. I have now taken this advert off my homepage because it clearly jinxed me for the event!

Please tell me it is not just me and that you all have at least one superstitious ritual that you can’t manage without.


8 responses to “The superstitious runner

  1. There is a specific hill we have to run up at the very end of our weekly morning runs at the lake. There is a line in the concrete that you HAVE to cross before you’ve officially finished your run and turned off your Garmin. I have others, and some are not even running related.


  2. Those are funny! I don’t think I have any specific rituals…probably need to get myself one. Wait, does griping and moaning count? I do that every run!


  3. A cup of tea with milk and one sugar before running. Can’t go without it. I believe that my body will not be able to run without the tea. Already wondering how I am going to work that one out for the Bristol Half Marathon as the early start, journey and tea ritual might not gel perfectly. Could be taking a flask!


    • Superstition or not, nothing should come between an Englishman (lady) and their cup of tea. I am sure there will be someone selling tea from a van at the Bristol Half. But I know that if you are superstitious you can’t go without a flask and risk it. Good luck!


  4. Funny! I can’t stop my run at a decimal point. I have to finish at an even mile. It sometimes means running around the block to get that extra mileage in.


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