Pre-race routines

I’m always surprised at the number of runners that don’t warm up before their races.  I see lots of runners chatting with friends and almost get surprised when it is time to start the race.  It should not be surprising, that their first mile or two are not optimal, they haven’t given their body a chance to be ready.


I developed a race routine over the years that works for me.  You should develop your own, but whatever you decide stick with it, and don’t get distracted by an encounter with an old running friend.  By having a set routine every time, you will train you body and mind to be ready for the race.

My Pre-race routine:

This applies to all non-marathon races, marathons are their own logistical nightmare.

I like to arrive 1 hour before the start time.  That is earlier than most people, but I don’t want to feel rushed on race day.

Get my number, scope out the start finish area.

40 Minutes before the race:

Start my warm up, very slow jogging.  Sometimes I have company during my warm up, most often I do it alone.  I do at least 15 minutes.  If it is cool out I’ll do 20-25 minutes.  If it is a short race and I want to pad my miles I’ll do as much as 30 minutes.


20 Minutes Before the race:

Change into my racing gear.  Singlet, racing flats etc… I pay particular attention to make sure my socks have no wrinkles, those turn into blisters later.  I want the tension on my laces just right, nothing is more annoying than shoes that are too loose or tight during a race.  I double and triple tie the laces.

I do some strides, trying to feel out race pace.  If I feel any tightness I do some stretching.  If it is an important race I’ll try to relax, close my eyes and visualize the race.  I will play through in my mind where I need to focus, how I’ll be feeling at each mile etc…  I will have mentally run the race in my mind, beforehand.


10 Minutes Before:

Decide on any last minute changes to clothing. Make my way to the start.


After the race:

Depending on the length of the race I’ll do a warm down of varying lengths.  The shorter less demanding the race, the longer the warm down.  Recovery wise there is really no benefit to a warm down, I use them mostly to add more easy miles.

A warm down is basically free miles, you can add to your weekly total.  Take advantage.


You can use whatever race routine works for you, but at a minimum it needs to include 15- 20 minutes of easy running.  The routine we use before every track workout is a good starting point.

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