Running the day before a 5K can provide various benefits. What are the primary advantages of running the day before a race? It can help you with your flexibility by loosening up your muscles by enhancing blood flow to your legs. This can help you avoid weariness and cramps throughout your run.
Running the day before a 5K also allows your muscles to more efficiently store glycogen. The idea of running the day before a race is to help get you into a racing mindset rather than to exhaust yourself. Experienced runners refer to this as a “shakeout” run and we will further discuss its benefits below.
What are the benefits of running the day before a race?
Many runners may be concerned that running the day before a race may exhaust them and negatively impact their performance. Actually, running the day before a race has no negative impact on your performance, if done correctly. Instead, there are several benefits that you can reap, which we will go into now.
1. Improved Blood Flow
A run the day before your 5K race increases blood flow to the muscles, which delivers important nutrients and oxygen necessary for them to recover and prepare for the run ahead.
Being flexible can make your stride seem more natural on race day for shorter events like the 5k and 10k.
2. Stimulates the Central Nervous System
The central nervous system is stimulated by running the day before a race. Completing a short, tune-up run can improve the performance of your neuromuscular system. An improved neuromuscular system stimulates your brain cells, as well as the rate that your brain can transmit signals to your muscles. This improved mind-muscle connection can be just the thing you need in order to hit that new PR.
3. Calms Your Nerves
One of the most significant advantages of running the day before a race is that it can help to calm your mind and soothe any pre-race jitters. Going on a run with a team of racers or training partners assists some runners in getting away from their anxious thoughts and provides them with needed reassurance before race day.
Going for a run the day before might also be useful because racing is what you do and you don’t want to disrupt your everyday routine.
How far should I run the day before a 5K?
So, you now know you should do a run before your 5k, but exactly how long should it be? It is recommended to keep your pre-race day run at around 10 to 15 minutes similar to your warm-up runs. This is just enough to get your blood flowing to the muscles you will use on race day, as well as improve your flexibility and recovery.
What is a shakeout run?
A shakeout run is an easy 10-to-15 minute run that is to be performed the morning of your race. Normally, a shakeout run is completed an hour to 2 hours prior to the start of the race. Part of how long before the race you should do your shakeout run is based on preference and experience, but it is advisable to not schedule any closer than 1 hour before race time, and no earlier than 3 hours before.
Shakeout run difficulty should be kept to the pace of an easy run, as it is just for getting your blood flowing and warming up your joints, muscles and ligaments. It is recommended to use Zone 1 for your shakeout runs so it is important to monitor your heart rate so that you do not exceed this threshold.
Chest strap heart rate monitors are recommended, as they have the highest accuracy when compared to wrist-worn monitors. One of our favorites is the Polar H10. You can click below to check it out.
What are the benefits of a shakeout run?
The shakeout run prepares a participant mentally for the actual race. It is normal to feel some nervousness the day of your race, and a shakeout run can help alleviate these feelings. Those few minutes of easy running allow you to gather your thoughts, relax, and concentrate on the task at hand. It can also help to get rid of any morning tiredness, especially for those who do not consider themselves a “morning person”.
A pre-race shakeout is an excellent concept. Give it a shot prior to your next race, and see if it improves your time and overall experience, and then make any tweaks or adjustments prior to your next race!
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Click here to check out our article on “The 10 Best Heart Rate Monitors for Running“.