QT: It’s a Good Idea to Start Your Runs Strategically

How you start a run matters.

We’ve talked before about starting a race strategically, specifically in hopes of avoiding a mid-race blow-up that torpedos your race goals.

But how much do you think about how you start your regular runs?

If I’m honest? It’s not something I think about very often at all…

Start Your Runs Strategically

My standard pre-run routine these days is pretty pathetic, if I’m honest.

I put my shoes on. I have a few sips of water. The dogs get leashed up. And we head out the door.

Clearly, there’s not a lot of planning or strategery going into my runs.

What would be a better option?

I’m so glad you asked.

Identify the Point of the Run

What are you trying to achieve on the run today?

Is it an easy run? A long run? Some sort of workout or harder effort run?

Not all runs are created equal, which means that how you start your run is likely to differ from one run to the next.

Being clear on what you’re getting yourself into when you head out the door helps ensure you start your runs strategically.

Your Run Starts Before You Start Running

For an easy run? Assuming you actually keep your easy runs easy?

You probably don’t need to do much ahead of your run.


Doing the lunge matrix, some leg swings, or other dynamic movements to help lube the joints and warm up the muscles is always a good idea.

But it is a bit less essential when you’re just going to ease into your run over the first mile or two and never really push at all.

On a workout day?

Probably a good idea to loosen things up a bit more, especially if you’re an early-morning runner.

Rolling out of bed and heading out to hammer some repeats isn’t wise.

At best, your workout quality will be poor. At worst, you’re begging for an injury.

Either way, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

The best option, in my view, for a hard workout day is a combination of an easy mile or two warm-up plus some dynamic movements.

Squats. Lunges. Jumping jacks. High knees. Butt kicks.

Pick a few and move your hips, knees, and ankles through as close to a full range of motion as you can to prep them for the effort that is to come.

Tweak Your Start to Support the Goal

Pretty much the first mile or two of any run should be considered the warm-up.

Whether you did all the things before a run or not, easing into your run over a mile or two is always a good idea.

And just like all runs are not equal, all warm-ups are not equal, either.

If it’s an easy day? You can probably get away without too much overthinking here.

Keep it simple, use the first mile or two to find your comfortable pace, and then just cruise for the rest of the run.

On a workout day? Depending on the workout you’re doing, a good warm-up could include a few strides or short pick-ups to help bridge the gap from easy/warm-up pace to the type of intensity you’re going to strive for once the workout starts.

And on a long run, you might need to be mindful of how fast you’re moving during the warm-up.

While the stakes of going out too fast on a long run tend to be lower than they are on race day, it still sucks to blow up on a long run and have to walk it in for the last few miles.

So maybe you stop for a couple of walk breaks to reset or just keep a close eye on your watch and keep it nice and easy.

Just remember you’ve got a long way to go, so don’t be afraid to be a little extra conservative at the start of a long run.

The Start Matters (But Only a Little)

While we all want to make sure that we get off to a good start for our runs or our races, remember that how you start a run isn’t the end all be all.

Starting a run perfectly doesn’t guarantee that the rest of the run is smooth sailing.

And stumbling out of the gate doesn’t mean the rest of the run is going to be a complete shit show.


Do your best to get the start of your run right.

But as the run progresses, there’s nothing wrong with making a few adjustments to keep your run on the rails even if you didn’t nail the start.

And if you make sure to start your runs strategically as much as possible, there’s a decent chance you’ll have more good starts than bad.

It only takes a little forethought to make sure you start your runs strategically. #runchat Share on X

What is Your Pre-Run Routine?

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