Warm Ups Before A Race

The reason I ask is... I ran a 5.4 mile road race about 8 weeks ago for the club... and because I needed the mileage, I ran to the race which was 5 mile (about 36 minutes)... then within 10 minutes ran the race. 31:24 i did for the 5.4, my fastest ever pacing by a mile...

... makes me think, does a long warm up really do you good? Did the same thing in 2004 at the Flint 10k, warmed up for about half an hour, just slow jogging, and battered my PB and didn't feel weak...

Be interested to see what other people do as warm ups before races! Usually I just do a little stretching and jog a bit, nothing like these two warmups, however, these races I felt great...



  • My planned warm up is normally about 10 minutes with a 3 x 100m strides before starting on a run.

    Your comments have made me think though - On a 10 mile threshold run I often do not comfortably settle in until after about 4 miles - the rest I normally run faster or seems easy in comparison to the first few miles.

    When I set my 10k PB (David Lloyd 10k in October) I also ran to the start (about 3 miles) and did the race fully warmed up.

    From my experience your theory of a long warm up is correct - will be interesting to see what others think.
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    It normally takes me about 3 miles to feel comfortable, so yes, I'd agree.

    However, as 90% of my races are half or full marathons, I doubt the extra 3 miles would do me good overall, so I just use the first 3 miles of the race to warm up.

    10Ks or less would be a different matter, but I've only ever done 2 10Ks.
  • interesting thread!

    i've done a 5mile race in 30:40 but wouldn't feel confident about havinga little 3-5mile jog before!

    I normally roll up with just about the minimum energy required!

    be intersting to hear from some mroe people on their times with and without warmup runs
  • Would defo be interested to see other peoples thoughts and yeah, how many times do you turn up, feel like crud in a race for a mile or two then suddenly get into it...

    If it's a case on say a 10k, really slow jogging for around 2-3 mile, dead dead easy... then when you start the race you're fully warmed up, these past 2 years could have been wasting alot of potential :-(

    Stevie Was it the same you who was losing weight ages ago? And trying to get quicker? We were on a trhead together?

  • The shorter the race, the longer the warm up. For a 5k you'll see me doing a couple of miles so I'm ready to run fast as soon as the gun goes. For a marathon I'll manage a gentle stroll to the toilets.
  • Sounds very interesting , running my 1st 10 k this week which is about 2.5 miles from where I live will try running up there, before the race. Nothing to loose, see how it goes.
  • I agree, it takes me a good couple of miles to get into my running, so for a 10km I tend to run out for a couple of kms and back again to the start, then do the same thing after as a cool-down (or still running if I need the mileage for training and then cool down). For a mara, I just do a very slow jog and some stretching.

    Speaking as a triathlete, I find I am usually able to run pretty well after getting off my bike, again because I reckon I'm thoroughly warmed up.
  • Tom.Tom. ✭✭✭
    Interesting question.

    Normal convention suggests that a couple of miles easy running plus 4-5 x 100m stride outs is whats needed - for both racing and training. At the start line you should be sweating and your heart rate elevated (60-65% of max).

    Two reasons why this rarely happens: At the start of big races you need to get into position - probably waiting 10-15 mins for the off, by which time the efects of the warm up are wasted. Secondly, and more personally, the effect of my nerves before a race are such that I can hardly put one foot infront of the other prior to the start of a race.

    If the race is 10m plus, trhen the warm upsn't that crucial, but at 10k and below, if your looking to run well, a decent warm up is essensia.

    Interestingly in his book "Running Formula", Daniels suggests that a very vigerous warm up (ie two miles at race pace) is very effective. He suggests that this is woprth trying in a race of little importance - to see if it's effective.
  • Looks like quite a few people are thinking along the same lines as me. If I race this 10k on Sunday, I'm going to do 2-3 miles warm up and see how I do... if I break the world record I'll be sure to let everyone know ;-)

  • Tom.Tom. ✭✭✭
    Pug, good luck with the WR attempt. If you miss it by a few seconds, it still might be worthwhile alerting us to the benefits of a good warm up:-)
  • howdy pugheaven!

    probably me on a thread to get quicker..definitely not me trying to lose weight!! I'm a skinny enough weasel as it is!

    I see you've knocked your 1/2m down to 1hr 21..very nice.
    If your 10k and 5k are accurate i'm still just ahead of you there though!
  • Alright Steve, well, I haven't raced a proper 5k or 10k, with tomorrow being the one that is my first proper attempt at a short PB in around 6 months... who knows how I'll go...

    Been training exclusily for the New York Marathon I did last month, so no speed work, just 50 mile per week... so god knows what'll happen tomorrow hahaha

    I think I'm in 36:25 ish shape... but depends on the day... I'll be balls out though so, I'll update, but I'll defo be doing around 2-3 miles of warm up.. minimum 2 miles... then strip off, and line up...

    The race starts at 11am, so, I'll get there for 10am, register, then stretch etc etc, then from around 10:25am just run until around 10:50am, strip into running gear then go... see what happens.

    Be interesting to see what I do... I'll post tomorrow when I get back ;-)

  • target 36:31 then Pug - that's my 10K PB (from Guilden Sutton 2004).

    For my next race I'll certainly be doing a much more extensive warm-up - last road race I did at Caernarfon, I got to the venue too late & only had time for a few strides. Felt very uncomfortable when the race started & this lasted thru to about 6K. Had the same problem, to a more limited extent, in the XC race I did yesterday.
    Good luck at Helena Tipping - mind the new slimline you doesn't get blown away ;-)
  • I've tried a variety of things.

    Running to the local R4L was a very pleasant warm-up. I then had to wait a while, but it was a hot day and I did not congeal.

    I have also tried running a couple of miles easy a few hours before the race for a 10k. That seemed to get rid of the worst of the stiffness, which was a big factor for me at that time. I am relatively old though, and it might not be of any use to youngsters.

    The real advantage of a mile's warm-up for me is being able to stretch profitably. Stretching my muscles cold is like trying to stretch wood, and I know which end is likely to part first. I do run much better after stretching.

    half mara and above is a real struggle for me to get round. I'm not sure it is as effective, but I tend to spend my time before longer races doing pilates or tai chi type warm ups. The latter is in effect a form of stretching under load, so probably does some good given the cold muscles. They feel a little less wooden afterwards.

    Stepping on spiky balls before putting trainers on is also a good one. It helps wake my feet up. Somehow sensation in the bottom of my feet and function of glutes are intimately related. (Experience running in Nike Frees over rough ground was a real awakening in every sense of the word.) Even if the race is too long to dare to wear light and unsupportive footwear, starting with lively feet helps supply some kick.

    A quick check on upper body flexibility seems to help too. Don't know why. A few minutes calling psoas and other core muscles to attention helps too. Remembering that these muscles can be called on is a great help to survival.

    Those who know me know I represent the very slowest class of runner. Some of that though is not just through laziness and a general disinclination to train. I think I've learned a lot through trying to outwit the stiffness and numbness that has made progress difficult.

    I guess the most important thing I have learned is that there are lots of things to try. What helps what doesn't is a pretty personal matter. Moreover, there are often several ways to achieve the same effect (eg, glute strengthening exercises, or running on rough ground in thin shoes).

    Anyhow, good luck

    Hi Mike S!
  • Right, well, what can I say... what a tough 10k race... for two reasons:

    1). The wind was insane... so blustery, I nearly lost my footing a couple of times...

    2). The water we had to run through... think there were 3 main sections of 40ft of water that was what... 1ft deep? Was insane lol... was soaked... and seriously slowed us down.

    However, once again, really well organised, superb race with everyone running balls out... so here's my splits:

    1 mile = 5:42 (avg HR = 166, max HR = 176)
    2 mile = 5:40 (11:22) (avg HR = 177, max HR = 179)
    3 mile = 5:48 (17:10) (avg HR = 179, max HR = 182)
    4 mile = 6:08 (23:19) (avg HR = 179, max HR = 181)
    5 mile = 6:37 (29:57) (avg HR = 179, max HR = 181)
    6 mile = 6:26 (36:23) (avg HR = 179, max HR = 180)

    Maximum HR = 182

    Finished in 37:34

    Basically I think that without the water and bad wind... I'd have been looking 35:45 ish? Something like that?

    I defo think that the two 2 mile warm ups an hour before the race helped…

    1st Warm up…
    10:00 am
    2 miles
    15:35 (7:47/mile)
    Avg HR: 156
    Max HR: 176

    2nd Warm up
    2 miles
    15:04 (7:32/mile
    Avg HR: 150
    Max HR: 164

    As you can see, the average and maximum heart rate in the 2nd warm up are lower, indicating to me that my heart and body are now warming up… I think for a 10k race, 4 mile of warm up is perfect, obviously I suppose it depends what standard you are… but for me, I had a great run considering the conditions!


  • I am a bit rusty on the old terminology (scratches head and issues disclaimer) but thinking back to my Aerobics/Personal training days I'd always advise and teach a 5 to 10 minute warmup as it warms up muscles, body temp and prepares the body for increased blood and oxygen flow/use. Then a little stretching. As you're warmed up you're not likely to pull a muscle etc.

    I think (not sure exactly what the science is) it takes about 20 mins or so for your body to regulate it's fuel type, glycogen/metabolise fats and settle into a routine of clearing away lactic acid, using oxygen, replenishing energy stores etc.

    If you don't warmup prior to a race/training session then you have to do it during the race/session. The chances of you stopping 10 minutes in and establishing pre exercise muscle length (stretch) are slim and the impact on your time major.

    Don't overlook the cool down. We're meant to re-establish our muscle length (stretch) as due to constant contaction during exercise they shorten. Personally I don't like post stretching and I know a 50+ yr old who taught over 50's aerobics who complained that post stretching causing bad knee pain that wasn't there if he didn't bother. I would always advocate gradually reducing your heart rate (not sure exactly what the science is)to reduce blood pooling. I think blood sits in our veins/muscles and pools if we don't gradually turn down the pump rate, this causes issues such as varicose veins where it backs up between the one way valves.

  • Before yesterday, I'd have said that I never warm up before races and am focussed on conserving as much energy as possible.

    But after arriving late at the Thanet 10 mile and having to jog 5 mins to the start, and then setting off about 30 seconds later, I have to say it made a huge difference to nerves, initial pacing, heart rate and also energy levels. So I'm now a convert to the pre-race warm up:-)
  • What time did you do in the 10 miler?

    I#d have to say, I'm defo warming up alot now before 10k and less runs... I think it makes a major difference, and the 4 mile before my 10k race proves this, look at the first 3-4 mile before the wind kicked in, flying...

  • There impressive splits Pug. im just starting out as novice runner,training for a 8.5mile fun run and also a 10K both not till june. Im down to about 8.5min miles and done a 10K on the treadmill 52mins. any advice how i can bring my times down to the 46min mark (im going to be racing with a friend and thats his PB)
  • jamie clark
    Hi mate, well depends on what you're doing now...

    When I was trying to break 40 minutes (and doing 10k's in around 41-42 minutes) I was running around 25 mile per week.

    So, if I was you... I'd do the following:

    Just make sure you do 22-25 miles per week... now this may or maynot sound like a lot... however it works out at 3.57 per day.

    Now, Sunday will be your longer run day of say 7 mile, no more... you need to get your body used to a longer than race run! That leaves you 18 miles to split over day 4 days so I'd say maybe do this?

    Monday: Recovery 3 mile plod
    Tuesday: Get in a descent quick 3-4 miler
    Wednesday: Rest
    Thursday: 5 mile steady
    Friday: Rest
    Saturday: 3 mile steady
    Sunday:7 mile slow/steady

    See how you get on with that,m and slowly increase a coupel of the runs... you dont' need to be doing anymore than 25 miles per week mate to do a 45-46 minute 10k... believe me... just do this for 4-5 weeks and do a race... you'll notice a difference ;-)


  • Cheers Pug. Im currently only training 3 times a week. tuesday easy 2 to 3 miles thursday speedwork over about 5miles with intervals etc and sundays long runs 6 to 8 miles. So about 15miles a week. seem to be able to do the long 6/7 miles no problem but cant see to get down under the 8min miles. Does this just come with endurance and clocking up training miles or do i need to do more speed work?

    Thanks for the advice.
  • Hi mate, to do a 46 minute 10k, doesn't take speed work, it simply take a bit of strength and endurance... and it's endurance "at pace"... which is why I said a quick 3-4 miler, something that you push on... and are tired at the end of (but not race pace!)...

    I've done bugger all speed work in my life, probably about 5-6 sessions in two years which isn't anything, and yet, I can run a 1:21 half and a 2:55 marathon... and yesterday ran at 5:4x pace for the first 3 mile... all without speed work!

    Honestly, I'd forget the speed work in that 5 miler and up the miles a bit... but don't do more than 8 on yourSunday run, otherwise it'll tire you for your rest fo the week.

    Make sure you have 2 days rest per week...

    What's your age and weight?

  • Ok thanks for the advice. I'll give that a go then. Im 32 and 11stone. So endurance at pace seems to be the key. If im to do a 10k in under 46mins thats 4.6Min 1k pace what pace should i be traing at. Normally run around the 5.5/6min a k pace which is fine for the first 7K then i flag a little.

    Sorry if these are stupid questions.
  • I am a bit intrigued by some people saying they don't do warm ups as they want to conserve energy.

    I read somewhere that the body (liver) stores up to about 2000 calories in glycogen. At marathon pace consumption, 100 calories per mile you'd hit the wall at 20 miles.

    Based on 6 miles at 7 min miles (no elevation) and weighing 13st 10lbs you'd consume approx 700 - 800 calories. By my reckoning there's plenty left in the tank for a gentle warm up providing you are used to the mileage.
  • No such thing as a stupid question - only one you don't know the answer to!

    Pug's advice is good, although personally I feel that I benefit from speedwork. In a typical week I try to do 1 long run (currently 11/12 miles), 1 tempo run (2 - 6 miles), one speedwork session, and 2 easy/recovery runs (3 - 5 miles). That gives me 2 rest days, and I never do 2 "hard" runs on consecutive days. Check the Pace Calculator on this website for the pace you should be aiming at for different run types - although you'll need a current time to base it on.

    I think one of Pug's main points was to increas mileage to improve race times, and that's exactly what I'm doing now. I seem to have hit a plateau on race times running about 15 miles a week, so I'm gradually raising the bar to 25 - 30 a week to see if I can step up to the next plateau!

    I'm a similar weight to you (well, a few pounds lighter), but I'll be 46 in January, and I'm aiming for a 40 minute 10k and a 1:30 half next year.

    Hope this helps!
  • Cheers Jeff. Thanks for the advice. I'll up my milage then and see how i get on. Id love to break the 40min mark but for now i'll aim to beat my mate at 46mins (hopefully)

    The race not till june mind so got plenty of time. But once again thanks for the advice.

  • Don't forget the golden rules - don't increase mileage too quickly, and don't increase mileage and pace at the same time!
  • Yeah i found that out a few weeks back i was doing ok so thought id keep going and did a few miles more than nomral at pace to finish my long run off and had to rest for the next 3/4 days with a sore ankle.

  • As well as warming up before the race,what I've found works (for me at any rate)is running the first mile or so at about 30 secs-ish per mile slower than target pace-and then picking the pace up in the second mile.Since I stumbled upon it accidentally,I've found that I can hold my target pace much longer and avoid slowing towards the end of the race.

    Thinking about it,it probably works as a second warm-up,but without the usual 10-15 minute break before the race actually starts,which is necessary to get to the start,line up etc (and which probably defeats much of the object).
  • What a fascinating thread, thanks Pug.

    I have a PB of 45:52 for 10, and really want to break 45 next spring, hopefully getting close to 40.

    I've always been 'scared' to warm up too vigourously, even though I know the theory. Sounds daft I know, but it is difficult to get rid of the 'wasting energy' idea.

    This thread has given me the confidence to give it a go. So maybe next time I'll be a bit braver. It makes all the difference seeing real figures and knowing that it works in practice. Thanks for posting those splits.

    One question. When you are doing your two 2 mile warm ups, what sort of effort are they at? Is it 'conversation pace' or a bit brisker?
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