Warm-up for Big Races

BY Hal Higdon

How do you warm-up for big races?  Hal Higdon says arriving late may be your best defense against stiff, cold muscles.

Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am running a 10-K next week. After doing my pre-race warm up, how do I stay warm at the starting line, considering that I need to be lined up at least a half hour before the start? A big race, and it is going to be crowded. I just want to start in a halfway decent position, which means getting to the line too early for comfort.


It’s not easy. Standing stationary on the starting line is one way to lose some of the advantages of a good warm-up, particularly on a chilly day when you may or may not be standing there in shorts-and-singlet. Warm weather is no bargain either. One option is to arrive at the starting corral as late as possible, but then you risk being behind a lot of people slower than you. Jogging in place is one option, though not the best substitute for strides out in front of the line as taken by the elites. The other option, I suppose, is to pick smaller races for your PR efforts and enter mass races mostly for the fun of a shared experience.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.