Here’s Your Peloton Instructor-Approved Pre Race Warm Up

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How you prepare your body on race day is crucial to how you’ll feel while on the road to your finish line. Creating a consistent and effective pre race warm up routine will not only set you up for success but will keep your body safe as it works hard to hit your next milestone. To learn more about how to structure your pre race warm up routine, we talked with competitive runners and Peloton instructors Becs Gentry, Matt Wilpers and Robin Arzon about exactly how they warm up before any race.

Dig Into Dynamic Movements

It may feel natural to want to use static stretching to get your body ready before a race but Becs, Matt and Robin all encourage you to use more dynamic movements within your pre race warm up to prepare your muscles for the work ahead. “I like to walk to the start area from wherever I am staying so the blood gets pumping,” says Becs. “Once I’m near the start, I then begin my drills such as leg swings, walking knee hugs, skips, heel flicks, and striders–I favor warming myself up cardiovascularly with drills and pick ups once I am near my start corral,” says Becs, but cautions against a too-aggressive workout that will raise your cortisol levels. Robin notes that she could even be there to guide you through your warm up with just a tap. “The movements that are in a 5-minute pre-run warm up on Peloton Digital are the dynamic movements that I do before any race!”

Another aspect to consider before you hit the start line is the distance of your race and the amount of time you spend preparing. Matt says that there are a couple different factors that go into the time period that you allow for your pre race warm up. “My warm-ups vary depending on what I am warming up for–the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up generally,” says Matt. “For example my 5K race warm-up is much longer than my marathon race warm-up and on cold days, warm-ups are longer in general because it takes longer for my body to heat up.” Becs agrees that the time spent preparing her body before a shorter race is usually a longer length so she’s ready to accelerate the moment her feet hit the race course. “My warm-up for a 5 or 10k for example would be more detailed and extensive as I want my body to be totally ready to run hard once I cross the start line,” says Becs. “I will do more dynamic warm-up moves and faster pick-ups and maybe even a little 10-minute jog before I enter the start corral.”

Make Sure To Warm Up Mentally

Warming up your mind before a race is just as important as the physical prep you do. Robin explains how this is not something she just leaves for just her pre race warm up but an element of her training that she practices daily. “I do have a race day prep where I mentally go through the specific course that I’m going to be running, but that’s really the only adaptation. I run through my training highlights almost every single day, and it’s practice–just like one pushup isn’t going to make you stronger, one visualization exercise isn’t going to make it stick,” she says. If you don’t already have a mental strategy integrated in your pre race warm up, she says now is the time to develop one. “It’s actually a practice that I recommend people to start to develop, even if they don’t have a race on the horizon,” says Robin. “Highlight the moments that they’re most confident about from training–race morning you’ll want to run through all of the things that provide you confidence and you’ll want to focus on the things you can control.”

No matter what your mental prep looks like on race day, being nervous beforehand is very natural. What’s most important is finding a routine that works for you and overall, reminding yourself what you’re capable of. “My mental warm up feels like it is chaos but the more often I race, the more I think it’s my chaos and I find comfort in it,” says Becs. “Once I’m in my start corral, I calm down and reiterate to myself that I know I am well trained, have experience and can do what I’m about to do–the mental games only stop when I’m in my running groove on the course with no way out other than crossing the finish line!”

Have a Post-Race Plan, Too

Save your static stretching until after your race, when it’s the most effective. “Static holds (20-30 seconds), are much better after a race,” says Robin. “Think about lengthening–you don’t want to stretch a cold rubber band, so you never want to hold a stretch too much before a race.” Most importantly, stick to what you know and what has worked for you in the past. Whether it’s gear, mental preparation or any routine, one thing that any experienced runner will tell you is: nothing new on race day, especially when it comes to nutrition says Matt. “I avoid consuming anything new and different on race day–stomach problems used to destroy my races so I’ve learned to keep things simple and focus on what works for me.”