Training Tips: Warming Up
How to Warm Up for Races of Different Distances: 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon
5k - The shortest distance on this list. Since the 5k is usually a hard effort, making sure your engine is primed to go from the start is the biggest factor in warming up. Taking in account your weekly mileage, you should do anywhere from 1 to 3 miles of easier warm up running to get your legs moving. When should you time it? Good question! If our race is starting at 9amwe want to be on the starting line about 10-15 minutes before the start of the race to ensure we get all the final pre race instructions. So factor in however long it will take you to do your warm up run and any other pre race activities and count back from there. At your next race you can try these two tips on your warm up to see if it helps your legs carry you to a PR!
Tip #1: In the last few minutes of your warm up, let's say 1-3 minutes depending on how far you're going, try and pickup the pace to your "tempo" effort. This helps rev your engine a little bit so that the first stretch of that 5k doesn't feel as quick and allows you to settle into race pace easier. Tip #2: You might try to do 1-4 "strides" before you head to the race start to do the same thing. Running a little bit quicker than warm up pace, but not as fast as your race pace, makes that transition into race pace feel just a bit easier.
10k - The 10k is similar to the 5k in terms of warm up. You can keep the warm up a bit shorter than you would for a 5k, but the 1-3 mile range should do the trick. We still want to make sure we're at the line 10-15 minutes before the race start so time your warm up accordingly. Similarly to the 5k warm up, you can add a 1-3 minute pickup to tempo effort at the end of your warm up as well as a few strides before the race starts.
Half Marathon - The half marathon warm up will be closer to the full marathon distance, but we can still warm up the legs a little bit before you go stand at the starting line. Same spiel about timing the warm up, but larger races might require you to be standing in a corral before the race starts. Keep this in mind when planning a warmup for a half marathon and marathon! You can do a 1-2 mile warm up with a short pickup at the end to get your confidence going. If you're stuck in a corral do you best to keep warm and loose. Those fall races can be especially chilly so you might think about bringing an extra layer you don't mind shedding. Some races take layers as donations if you drop them off the side of the course. Check with the race officials beforehand though!
Marathon - The longest distance on this list. Compared to the other race distances the marathon is a different beast. We can talk more about fueling and energy needs for the 26.2 mile race distance in the future, but the warm up on race day should mimic whatever you do for any other long run you've done in the training cycle. We want to conserve as much energy as possible to ensure we have a great race. If you like doing a short jog to loosen your muscles up then anywhere from a quarter mile to full mile before the start will suffice. The main point that separates the marathon from the shorter distances is getting your MIND feeling right from the start of the race instead of warming up your legs to be ready to go from the sound of the start.
Those are just a few strategies, but I want you to know that if you have a warm up routine that you know works for you, then stick with that! These options are just to experiment and see if something new might work as well. What about race distances different than the four options? How about things like a track mile or a 9 mile race? Use your best judgement. If the race is shorter you probably need a little longer warmup and get your legs moving a little quicker before the starting line. If it's longer then the less warmup you need.