This is my article from the May 2008 edition of Around the Park, the newsletter of the Prospect Park Track Club
Someone once asked me if there was a special way to wish me luck before running a marathon. He told me he was about to say “break a leg”, but that was special for actors, and definitely not good luck for runners.
I found out that pilots say “Blue skies!” This is also not necessary good for a long run.
We talked about it for a wile. There are good luck charms… A horseshoes (too heavy), rabbits foot (gonna get kinds slimy after 20 miles) 4 leaf clovers (this will be sap by the finish line).
Some people make special prayers or evoke some special religious ritual. I don’t do that. Stevie Wonder said “If you believe in things you do not understand, you will suffer”.
I looked up some good luck sayings on the internet. Roy Croc said "Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get." I don’t think Roy was thinking about marathon sweat.
More internet research helped me discover that some cultures have good luck foods. One interesting tidbit is that in some Chinese regions luck is based on the shape of the food. Long noodles make for a long life. I have no problem with this. But cutting or biting the noodle can bring bad luck. This is too stressful for me.
Maybe you don’t want to talk about the outcome of the race, but you could say “Knock on wood”. This did not make any sense to me so I looked up the origin of this phrase. It goes back to the Druids, that makes sense but not for running.
I also looked at different languages for their version of good luck.
In Spanish you might say "Vaya con Dios" meaning "Go with God". In most other earthly languages good luck literally translated like that.
I looked at the languages of other planets. Beings from the planet Klingon, speak, of course Klingon. Klingons are a warrior race. They value honor above life itself. When one Klingon leaves another they are usually going off to battle.
I decided that if I were to be wished good luck before running a marathon it would be in the language of Klinglon. They say “Qapla’”. That is pronounced XAp^h'lA?. It means Success!