Fitting in a shakeout run might feel like a pain on race day, but this timeless practice has helped elites and recreational runners alike meet their goals.
Shakeout runs are becoming increasingly popular within the running community – and for good reason. A great deal of research shows that completing a shakeout run on or just before race day might help improve your performance.
What is a shakeout run?
The term itself might make it sound like a formal, structured run; however, shakeout runs are just the opposite. A shakeout run is simply an easy jog lasting about 10-15 minutes, completed a few hours before a race.
The length and timing of a shakeout run might vary from one person to the next, but in general, these runs are very easy and slow. They last at least 10 minutes and no more than 30 minutes. Most runners choose to complete shakeout runs 2-3 hours before the start of a race, but some find benefit from completing them closer to the start.
A shakeout run’s purpose is to help prepare your body for optimal performance during your race. It helps get the blood and oxygen flowing and provides a variety of benefits.
What are the benefits of shakeout runs?
While it may seem counterintuitive to run right before a big race, this simple, easy jog might actually help improve your performance and energy. Here are some of the benefits you might find from completing a shakeout run.
- Encourage blood and oxygen flow to muscles
- Raise body temperature to improve flexibility
- Help engage the mind and sharpen your focus
- Jump starts the digestive system to encourage bathroom use
- Provides a way to calm your nerves
- Physically and mentally wakes you up
Each runner might experience different benefits from their shakeout runs, but getting up and moving in an easy way is sure to kickstart your success on race day.
When to Include a Shakeout Run
Although shakeout runs are bound to be beneficial, it’s important to understand the best timing to maximize their effectiveness. Shakeout runs likely won’t provide much benefit before an easy long run during training, however, at the right time and place, they’ll set you up for success.
The best time to incorporate a shakeout run is at a big race with complicated pre-race logistics. The races that require you to arrive at the start hours before you actually begin running are the best scenarios to throw in a shakeout run.
Fitting in a shakeout run when you’re stuck waiting around at a big race is much more beneficial than simply sitting and relaxing.
Another great time to incorporate a shakeout run is on the morning of a short, fast race – like a 5k or 10k. The shakeout run provides an excellent warm up, which is especially crucial in a race where you’ll be running fast right from the get-go.
Creating a Shakeout Run Routine
Even with these guidelines, it will likely take a bit of experimentation as well as trial and error to narrow down the best routine. Pay attention to how your body responds to the shakeout run and adjust the timing or duration as needed until you get the best result.
Try adding a shakeout run before a few practice or easy races to solidify the routine that works best for you. Once you have an idea of what works best, you’ll feel confident using it for your goal race. Here are a few guidelines to get you started creating your routine.
The number one thing to keep in mind when it comes to duration of your shakeout run is this: keep it short. Aim to run for at least ten minutes, but no more than thirty. Most runners find success with the 10-15 minute length.
Another key component of shakeout runs: they are slow and easy. Running too hard, even for just 10 minutes, will defeat the purpose of a shakeout run and likely do more harm than good. Treat your shakeout run as if it is a warm up by planning for an easy jog.
Once you’ve planned how long you’ll run, you’ll need to plan when you run. The timing of a shakeout run is where each runner varies slightly from the next.
Most runners plan their shakeout runs about 2-3 hours before the race begins. This helps calm their nerves, encourage bathroom success, and improve their flexibility in time for the race.
However, some research suggests that shakeout runs are most beneficial a bit closer to the start, so the runner’s VO2 does not return to baseline.
It will likely take some experimentation to discover what works best for your body. Should you choose to stick with the tradition of putting some space between your shakeout run and the race start, your routine might look something like the following.
Sample Shakeout Run Routine
- Wake up 3 – 3.5 hours before the race starts
- Jog for 10 – 15 minutes outside hotel/house, etc.
- Complete your usual pre-race routine
- Eat your pre-race breakfast
- Visit the bathroom
- Travel to the start line
Adding a shakeout run to logistics that are already complicated might feel like a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. Shakeout runs are short, simple and easy. Adding just 10 minutes of jogging at some point on race morning doesn’t take long, but the benefits are plentiful.
Try a shakeout run before your next race and observe how your performance improves. This 10-15 minute jog may be all it takes to calm your nerves, increase your focus, and set you up for running success.