Should You Shakeout?
I still remember the first time I showed up for a race (the Get in Gear 10K back in 2010) and nervously watched as runners around me bounced around with jitters, panicked to find the port-o-johns, and, most astonishingly, ran around in circles before the race start. I was very new to road racing and couldn’t believe what I saw – there were people running before we were all to start….running? What the heck?
What is a Shakeout Run?
Little did I know back then that this practice of doing a short run minutes or hours before the start of a race is actually quite common. In fact, it even has a name – we call it the “shakeout run” or simply a “shakeout” for short. Runners from beginners to elites utilize the shakeout run to calm nerves, stimulate blood flow, and get those muscles moving. Alternatively, the term “shakeout” can also refer to a short run the day after a hard effort or race.
Here’s how to add a shakeout run into your race day routine:
The Pre-Race Shakeout
The pre-race shakeout consists of a short 10-15 minute easy run prior to a race. Elites typically wake in the early, early morning to perform their shakeout runs hours before the race and before their warm-up runs (yep, they will run twice before the race even starts!). Mere mortals and amateur runners can successfully perform a shakeout run 20-30 minutes before race start time. Most runners can also use the shakeout run as their pre-race warm-up (but will depend on your specific abilities and goals).
The purpose of the pre-race shakeout, of course, is to wake up the body, stimulate blood flow, and get the muscles warmed up and moving. If you’re racing a shorter distance such as a 5K or 10K, the shakeout is of utmost importance! You’ll want to be sure your muscles are warmed up for a faster pace and quick race. For longer distances such as the marathon, a shakeout run may or may not be necessary for the average runner.
The Post-Race Shakeout
The post-race shakeout occurs after a hard effort or race (or even a day later) and consists of a short 10-30 minute easy run. Elites probably have their own method of madness, but I’ve always performed my post-race shakeout the day after a race and have had good results.
The post-race shakeout serves to literally “shake out” the accumulated fatigue, lactic acid, and other “junk” in your legs after a strenuous activity. As with the pre-race shakeout, a short post-race run will help to stimulate blood flow and start the recovery process, and may even help you to feel less tight and sore following the race.
Related: Activity as a Form of Race Recovery
So, Should You Shakeout?
It took me a while to build up the courage to join those serious-looking runners who jogged back and forth before the start of a race, but these days you can find me running in circles with the best of them. Adding shakeout runs into my pre and post-race routines have helped me to start races warmed-up and (a little) less nervous, and I truly believe that the post-race shakeout has boosted my recovery ten-fold.
Should you shakeout? If you’re seeking to calm race day nerves, warm up your body, and boost recovery, then you should definitely give it a try!