Quick Tip–To Warm Up, or Not to Warm Up Before a Race?
Back in the day, if I saw someone warming up by running before a race, I thought they were wasting energy and hurting their performance for the race they were about to run.
Funny how things have changed.
I have learned through experience that there is an incredible value in performing a good warm up before a race, but I’ve also learned that the definition of a good warm up changes from runner to runner and race to race.
Confused yet? I think I still understand what I’m trying to say, so please allow me to try and make sense of it all.
You Should Always Warm Up Before a Race
In my professional opinion, a good warm up is a must.
The confusion arises, however, when you are asked to define a good warm up.
You see, a good warm up will vary depending on the race that you are running. If you’re running a shorter race, from 1 mile to 5k, you need to give yourself enough to do a thorough warm up because the race is a pretty high intensity affair from start to finish.
However, if you’re running something longer, like a half or a full, you can probably get away with using your first mile or even two as your warm up before settling into your preferred pace.
But you can’t even rely entirely on that logic. If you’re trying to run the marathon hard, say by attempting a BQ, a slight warm up is probably a good idea.
Don’t Do This as Part of Your Warm Up Before a Race
However you ultimately decide to warm up before a race, and I talk about a variety of options in the audio segment of this tip, there is one thing you should never do before a race–static stretching.
And I see it happening all of the time.
Static stretching (holding your stretch for 20+ seconds) is a bad idea for one major reason, it weakens the contractile force of the muscles immediately after the stretching session. If you’re about to run a race, you want those muscles ready to contract and propel you forward, so weakening their ability to do so obviously isn’t going to help you in your race.
Save the static stretching for after the race, but keep things moving before the race to insure that your body is warmed up and ready to go!
To hear a little more detail and info about my warm up routine, just press play below!
I learnt ages ago that by warming up I could avoid a bout of the dreaded Runner’s Trots. Now, whenever I run, I do at least a kilometre, sometimes two and on really hot days even three, before I try and up the pace and effort. Of course, complacency is a scourge and I had to relearn that lesson on Sunday at my last trail race of the series. It was a chilly morning so a warmup would have been welcome and quick, and I know enough about the course designer/RD to know she loves to lead with a huge hill, but I was enjoying hanging with a couple of other runners so I thought, nah, I’ll be good. That decision forced me off-trail at about the 1.5km mark for a ten-minute recovery/nature visit. It threw my race and cost me badly.
Warm up, people. Even if your legs can stand it when you don’t, maybe your guts will thank you.
Yikes! Glad I don’t have that kind of an issue, but it would make warming up pre-run/race mandatory in a hurry!
Thanks for helping me understand more about warm ups and racing. It’s good to know that a longer run doesn’t necessarily need a bit warm up, especially since the first mile or so can count towards it. Definitely curious to learn more about some other tips people can give to make a long run really effective.
Glad it helped Taylor!
It’s an awesome article. I don’t use to warm up before, but now, i’m doing it. This blog really inspire me! thanks again. oh also i was very curious about interval training, do you have an article on it?
I don’t think I do, but perhaps that would be a good topic to cover soon!