RUNNING NUGGET: THE FORBIDDEN SHIRT
This past Sunday almost 20,000 runners tore it up along Pacific Coast Highway as they ran the Surf City Half & Full Marathon. And I couldn’t help but notice as I motored along with my running brothers and sisters that literally thousands of them were committing a huge fashion faux pas.
They were wearing the 2014 Surf City Marathon tech shirts given to them for the race.
That’s a no-no!
Now, the Surf City shirts were pretty sweet this year… yellow for the guys and pink for the ladies. That said, those are the only two shirts in the world that should NOT have been worn during the race.
You may think I’m crazy and wondering “Why shouldn’t someone wear the shirt given to them specifically for that race?”
Let me backtrack a little.
Athletes can be a pretty superstitious bunch, especially when it comes to their performance.
In basketball, the last person to shoot a basket during warm-ups will supposedly have a good game.
In baseball, it’s bad luck to touch the baselines while running off and on the field in between innings.
In hockey, before a game players hit the goalie on his shin pads with their sticks for good luck.
Runners are a similarly superstitious lot. They have their own pre-race rites and rituals (I’ve got several of my own).
And this “forbidden shirt” rule is one that numerous veteran runners told me before my very first race.
It’s a commonly held belief amongst runners that wearing the shirt for a particular race when you actually run that race is bad luck.
Because you haven’t crossed the finish line yet. You haven’t earned it.
To do this is to risk offending the running gods and have them punish you with a bad finish time, runner’s trots or even the dreaded DNF.
Once you finish the race, that shirt is yours to wear without worry until the end of time, but until you do it should be strictly off-limits.
If you look at the runners on race day who are wearing that race’s shirt, they are almost always the newbies, the rookie runners who don’t know any better or haven’t been properly warned. And I do think this naiveté protects them from the wrath of the various running deities.
But those of us in the know tend to heed the advice, lest we jeopardize our running mojo.
Now if you feel compelled to wear a shirt for a particular race, you can wear shirts from prior years. Those shirts have already had their demons exorcised.
As for me, my rule of thumb is to wear the race shirt after I’ve arrived home following a race and had a much-needed shower. At that point the shirt is free from the dreaded Brady “tiki curse” and safe to wear.
Yeah, I know the whole thing is silly… but like the Bud Light commercial says “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”
And do you really want to tempt fate?
(Please let me know if you disagree with the “forbidden shirt” rule or if you have any race superstitions that you follow.)