Seasoned athletes and elites all know that a pre-race facilitation (fancy word for a race specific warm up) can make all the distance in achieving your goal time or pace on race day. The pre-race facilitation is so important because it does so many things. A proper warm up facilitates faster muscle contraction and relaxation, it lowers the viscosity of the fluids around the muscles allowing them to move easier, it increases blood flow to the muscles and it increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the muscles.
If you’re like I was, then you probably believe in the finite steps rule. While it may not actually be a rule, myself and many others always felt a serious warm up would wear us out and use up some of our quality race steps, so we shouldn’t do too much pre-race. However, do you know a single Olympic or elite athlete that doesn’t have a focused, race specific “warm up”? They certainly wouldn’t use a pre-race facilitation if it were a detriment, therefore it’s worth looking in to.
Research has repeatedly shown that a dynamic warm up improves sport performance in athletes. We also have seen over and over that a proper warm up enables to athletes to hit the start line primed and ready for action. Does this sound like your pre-race warm up? No? Well, then give me a few moments to explain why you should be completing this before every race. When the average amateur runner (like most of us) hits the start line, we have maybe jogged from our car to the start, hit the porta-potties, walked around a little, done some leg swings, and the ambitious of us have added in some high knees and butt kickers. This is a great first step, but do you really believe this gets you ready to race? I didn’t think so either, so that’s why I usually accepted that the first mile or two of a race was my “warm up” and then I’d settle into my rhythm. Sound familiar? Let me ask you this, how many road running races did you purposely jog easy the first few miles so let your body warm up and then after a few miles start running at goal pace and hold it? Right, that’s what I thought, well for most of you anyway, because the start is so exciting that we often PR the first mile or so, then realize we gotta slow down. Do you know that slamming feeling in your chest after the all-out mile start? That’s your heart screaming “Woah Nellie!”.
Imagine if you completed the following pre-race facilitation (this assumes that your doctor of course approves of you completing this) before your race:
Easy jog 5 minutes, then complete a series of hip, ankle, spine and shoulder range of motion exercises (a fancy way of saying swings), some activations to turn on dormant muscles (dead butt syndrome anyone?), and then completed your usual high knees, butt kickers, cariocas, side steps, lunges with a reach, etc. Okay, so now we’re about 15’ into our warm up and we are then going to go run 5-10’ more. During this last 5-10 minutes, include 3 to 5 reps of 10 second striders. Striders are short bursts of faster running (not a sprint) exaggerating perfect running form. Striders get your body primed and ready to go with the blood flowing to all the right places and your body starts getting the picture, we are about to run! Keep it light and loose, and hit the start line in the next 5-15 minutes.
So if you’re still with me, then you realize this can take 25 minutes, but you can modify it to your needs. If you complete a pre-race facilitation, then you have a greater chance of feeling 100% warmed up at the start line, and then you can begin running at goal pace form moment 1 (or 0 for the scientists). You will also decrease your risk of injury during the race, feel less stress as the shock to your cardiovascular system isn’t as big, and you will most of all feel like a real life elite athlete, because that’s what they do before a race. And who doesn’t want to feel great?
Give it a shot at your next running race, and please let me know what you thought and how it worked for you. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ll be completing my pre-race facilitation this coming Sunday at the Redding Road Race half marathon. If you’d like to stop by and say “Hi”, then I’ll be at the registration tent race morning volunteering and would be happy to meet you.
#RunSafe #RunFast #BeInjuryFree #GoCoachClare
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” ~Wayne Gretzky