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Pre Race Warm-ups: An Essential Part of Every Runner's Routine

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When I started running almost 4 years ago one of the cardinal rules of racing my running coach taught me was, "The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up." It is something that has been ingrained in me all these years and something I still practice to this day.

He would insist that I spend a good 20 minutes warming up by doing some walking, slow jogging, short strides, and easy stretching well before my race. Of course me being me, I always had lots of questions for him, especially as to why I would spend so many minutes warming up when the race itself was so short.

In all his infinite wisdom, he told me that warm-ups are one of the most essential, yet underrated portions of racing. Since the 5K and 10K distances are run at a much faster pace than say a 1/2 marathon and marathon, doing a good warm-up allows you to hit your pace early on in your race as your muscles are warmed up and your cardio-pulmonary system is ready to go. You do not need to run all out in your warm-ups just enough to get your muscles and joints loosened up and your heart rate elevated.

But what are some of the other benefits to pre-race warm-ups?

  • It allows for your heart rate to increase over a period of time.

  • It allows for blood to be diverted from the internal organs to the muscles in the legs needed for running.

  • It allows for your body's temperature to rise.

  • It allows for the joints to warm and to loosen up.

  • It all allows you to mentally prepare to run the race.

  • And the biggest reason to warm-up is to lessen the risk for injury during the race itself.
So while many runners like to arrive at the latest time possible before the race begins, know that getting there early enough to get in a good warm-up can be the difference between an OK race and a GREAT race.


Do you warm-up prior to your race/event? How much time do you spend warming up?

See more: running health fitness