Don’t waste time worrying about lucky socks. Instead concentrate on the real reasons behind a good or bad performance. Superstitions are silly things – behaviours with no basis in logic but born of tradition or routine.
The reality is of course, that many of us do reinforce illogical behaviour every day in the vague belief that something is unlucky – like seeing one magpie – or will help us – such as looking for that four-leafed clover. In everyday life these behaviours can be a harmless piece of fun with no real consequences other than reinforcing the beliefs that some external force has the ability to affect our lives. However, in sport there are good reasons for avoiding giving illogical behaviours the time of day.
The first reason is that they can divert your time and energy. Good performances come from thorough preparation, not from preparation interrupted by distractions. For example, riders who spend time seeking out their ‘lucky’ colour bar tape need to consider if that time could be better spent training. The colour of your bar tape is not going to make a difference to your performance. Similarly, riders with ‘lucky’ hotels to stay in before races can sometimes endure more travelling to and from the race as these might not be in the best locations for actually getting to the venue on time. Don’t let the search for ‘good vibes’ distract you from the actual things that will make a difference to your performance.
The second reason for avoiding superstitions is that they can affect the way you analyse your performances. Following rides, it is crucial that you spend some time thinking about what went well and what needs work. This analysis needs to be as detached and objective a process as possible if you are to make effective judgements that will help you improve. Superstitions get in the way of this objectivity because they can provide ‘reasons’ for poor or good performances. If you think the reason you rode a PB in a time trial was due to wearing your lucky socks, you are unlikely to realise the real reason was that you got your pre-race nutrition and hydration correct.
Many people will read this and think “this doesn’t apply to me”. In my experience nearly everyone has regular behaviours that do not stand up to the scrutiny of a logical approach.