New runners often show up to the start line of a 5K or 10K, half or full marathon, and head right to their corral without warming up. Maybe there’s not enough time before the gun goes off, or maybe they’re afraid the added mileage will tire their legs out.
Pretty much all of us have been guilty of it at some point. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I not only perform better with a proper pre-race warm-up, but it’s even more beneficial for me to do one that’s on the longer side, usually at least 20 minutes or two miles long. Yes, that means if I’m racing a half marathon, it ends up being at least a 15-mile day, possibly longer if I’m able to add in a cooldown. With that added extra mileage, my muscles not only haven’t ended up overtired, I’ve recently run my best races to date.
Turns out this isn’t just coincidence. According to professional marathoner Nell Rojas (who, full disclosure, is my running coach) the mile or even less that most people run before a race isn’t usually long enough and is likely to prevent them from reaching their peak performance on the day. Research supports this as well, with a 2021 study s