QT: Is There an Actual Benefit to a Shakeout Run?

One workout that you’ll see on most training plans, from one-size-fits-all to an actual good plan created by a coach, is the shakeout run.

I’ve put a shakeout run on the schedule of most of the athletes I coach over the years, so clearly I’ve bought into the need for doing a shakeout run the day before the race.

Or have I?

Curiously, there is no mention of doing a shakeout run in Be Ready on Race Day.

And I haven’t actually done an easy run the day before a race since Pocatello.

So are shakeout runs really necessary? Or are they just one of those things that runners do because other runners do them, so we should probably do them?

Are Runners Stupid?

What is a Shakeout Run Anyway?

Perhaps we should start here because I’m not 100% sure there is a consensus on the definition of a shakeout run.

I’ve always thought of a shakeout run as a short run typically done the day before a bigger race.

But some people refer to an easy run the day after a race/hard workout/long run as a shakeout run.

And still, others call a short/easy run a few hours before a race a shakeout run.

Yeah, so am I.

So which is the actual definition of a shakeout run? And, more importantly, is a shakeout run something that you should do before your next race?

The Day Before?

I’ve always heard of a shakeout run as being an easy run that you do the day before a race.

In the grand scheme of things, running a few miles the day before a big half or full really isn’t going to help you.


But I can see some value in a shakeout run if you’ve done some serious traveling to get to the race.

If you’ve spent several hours in a car or plane, getting a few miles in to stretch your legs is just going to feel good.

Another thing that a day before shakeout can do is just help to release any built up nerves or anxieties about the upcoming race.

But from a physiological point of view, I can’t think of a single benefit to doing a shakeout run the day before your race.

I can’t think of any negatives though, provided you’re run is short and the pace is easy.

So if you want to do a couple of easy miles the day before your race, I say go for it!

The Day After?

A few people I know talk about doing a shakeout run the day after a long run or race to help “shakeout” the soreness of a hard day of running the day before.

I’m all for getting some movement in to help speed up the recovery process. I really am.

But is running the best option?

I’d much rather see you do something that is less stressful to the body that is only just beginning to recover from a race.

Maybe a little time on the bike. Or a few laps in the pool.

Some gentle yoga poses can feel amazing as well.

The point is, some movement is a good thing.

But running the day after a hard race or workout?

Hard pass.

The Day Of?

I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of doing a shakeout run the day of your race until I started doing a little research for this post/episode.

Turns out, a lot of elites do a race morning shakeout run.

The more I think of it, the more it makes sense.

Getting a mile or two (at most) a few hours before a race really isn’t going to hurt you physically.

It’s not going to drain your energy. It’s not going to tap into your glycogen stores.

But what this pre-race run is going to do is help your body get ready for the race.

Getting 10-15 minutes of easy running is shortly after waking up helps your body to fully wake up before a race.

It warms up your muscles and lubricates your joints.

Not to mention, it might help get things “moving” so you don’t have to do your pre-race duty in a porta-potty.

Worth a Shot?

Does this mean that for a 7 am race you should be doing your shakeout run somewhere around 4 or 4:30?

I know. It’s hardly ideal.

But from a physiological point of view, it’s the only way to do a shakeout run that will legitimately help you run a better race.

Do you have to do a pre-race shakeout run to hit your goals on race day?

Absolutely not.

But it’s not going to hurt. And if a minute or two over a marathon matter, like if you’re chasing a BQ, I think it would be worth it.

My plan for my next marathon, which is probably not going to be until the fall, will be to try this.

Get up early, get a mile or so in, and then go out and hammer 26.2 miles.

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, so stay tuned!

Is a shakeout run actually something that will help you run a better race? #runchat Share on X

Do You Usually Do a Shakeout Run Before (of After) a Race? Why or Why Not?

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