Pre Race Warmups

So it’s race day. You’ve been carefully preparing yourself for weeks, working up to your goal pace. For breakfast, you closely followed our recommendations for the perfect pre-race breakfast and you’re standing-by waiting for the event to start. But, you’re pre-race ritual shouldn’t end at breakfast. Before that call to start rings out, you still have one last, extremely important step: the warmup.


Excuses, Excuses

On race day, as on any other workout day, the warmup is often woefully neglected. Sometimes, it’s just forgotten about. You may be late getting to the track or stressed about the even and it might just slip your mind to spend a few minutes warming up. This is understandable, though not completely excusable – as we will see.

Or, shamefully, you might intentionally skip or skimp on your warmup. Often, when people do this it’s base on the belief that their warmup will waste precious energy that they need for the actual run. This is not only wrong, but totally counterproductive.

If you’ve eaten properly that morning and in the days leading up to your race, you have more than enough glycogen packed away to fuel your race. Of course, the situation changes for long races like marathons but we’ll address that later. For now, let’s take a closer look at the goal of a good warmup and how to pull it off.


Get To The Point

Basically, the purpose of your race-day warmup is to get yourself up to speed before the race even starts. This is more important in short races, since marathoners can (and should) use the first mile or so as their warmup. You don’t have that luxury during a 5k.

Since short races don’t give you a lot of time to waste on gaining speed during the actual event, your warmups need to be longer and slightly more intense.

Try to end your warmup about 5 minutes before the scheduled started time to give yourself some wiggle-room if the race is early or late. Ideally, your warmup should be over precisely 2-minutes before the race, but that’s pretty difficult to pin down.


How To Do It

Now that we’ve covered the basic principles involved, let’s get down to the details. For any sport, your warmup should simulate the movements that you’ll be performing during competition. This is sort of a no-brainer when it comes to running since walking or jogging is such a straightforward option. If you have a convenient way to measure distance, you can also do 100-meter strides but this not always be readily available and may tempt you to push yourself harder than needed.

For a 5k, take about 15 to 30 minutes to gradually work up to your goal speed. As mentioned, the longer races call for shorter warmups so that a marathoner could get away with just a brief 5-minute jog before starting off.

Just to get you in the right mindset, consider doing your warmup on the final stretch of your track if that’s an option. It may sound a little strange, but a big part of race day is mental and this little mind-trick will make it use for you to visualize crossing the finish line.

In addition to the basic walk or jog as a warmup, there is a slew of other exercises you could perform to help you run better. We’ll discuss a few of those in a future post. In the meantime, do you have any tips on warming up? Please share them in the comments.