At most a little bit of brisk walking to get loose. If you are loose at the beginning you will be more efficient form-wise, but you do not want to expend any excess energy by doing anything too strenuous.
I don't like to do anything more than walk to the start line. That forces me to use the first couple of miles as a kind of warm up and keeps me from going out too fast. It may not be the optimal warm up, but it's worked okay so far...
I found this at the Manitoba Marathon website, and it looks a lot like something Bob Glover or Pete Pfitzinger has written:
Before a marathon, the need to warm up is counterbalanced by the need to conserve your carbohydrate reserves, which are a limiting factor in marathon performance. Fortunately, your warm-up only needs to prepare you to run at marathon pace, and that can be accomplished by running easily for about 5 minutes, gradually increasing your speed up to marathon pace, followed by some gentle stretching. Finish by performing 1 to 3 sprints at race pace.
On a warm/hot day however, you are probably better off finding somewhere cool to wait before the race than doing a warm up.
I found that when I ran them slow (for me) I did not need much of a warm up. Now that I run them faster (again for me) I need at least to jog for a couple of minutes as Phitzy suggests. Kind of tough in the bigger Marathons though when you are all jammed at the start. A little jog in place is all I can handle.
The only running I do before a marathon is literally to "warm up". Since most of my marathons have had a temperature around 40 at the start, and I'm out there in my shorts and singlet, I'll often jog very slowly for a couple of minutes just to get more comfortable.
I usually get out of bed, swig some water, get my running stuff on, and go for a slow 10 min jog. Then, eat my last meal about 3 to 3 1/2 hours before the start. I will then walk around a bit before the race just to get the blood moving a bit.
I have found when I have warmed up too much, I usually go too fast in the first mile.
I have found over the last 3 decades that it seems to take longer to warm up as time passes by(I am 64). I have spoiled myself over the years in my training runs by going out 2-3 minutes slower than my "normal" pace for at least the first 1-2 miles. Shorter races 5K/10K I run 3-4 miles and do some pick ups prior to the start. The marathon at least 1 mile warm up. Ultras
I would go out the way I trained and get warmed up as I go.<br /><br />I have a marathon in December and plan on "practicing" running a little quicker when I start my training runsthough I hate to change what ain't broken. I attribute my longevity in running with over 64,800+ milesin part to my slow warm ups--and often running 2-3 minutes slower than race pace (5-10K) on over 90% of my runs. Nick
Personally I just do a very light 5 minute jog to get the blood flowing a bit. I think that's all you really need. As others have said, if you're too warmed up, you're likely to go out too fast.
I generally follow Pfitz's pre-marathon routine. I think a warmup is important.
But here's something to think about. The first two or three minutes of any run are about bringing the aerobic system on line. But the aerobic system, starting from its resting rate, can't come on line that quickly. So there's a small but real spike in blood lactate during those first few minutes; you're essentially running anaerobically
IF you do anything but shuffle at a very slow jog. This is why people who know nothing about running and who begin their runs at a brisk pace talk about the "second wind." The second wind is evidence that they have experienced an exaggerated version of this lactate spike, and that, once their aerobic systems have come on line, their lactate falls. <br /><br />Good runners don't have second winds. We know how to avoid them. We do as the Kenyans do, and as John Kellogg advises us to do: we begin every runEVERY run at a stumbling slow jog. Insofar as possible, we avoid that early-run lactate spike. We bring everything on line slowly and gently.<br /><br />Peter Coe's book, BTW, has a wonderful visual that shows this lactate spikeone of its many graphs.
How is all this relevant to the question of whether and/or how to warmup for a marathon? What's key, above all, in any such warmup, is to avoid ANYTHING that feels like a lactate spike. Because what you're really doing to create such a spike is burning glycogen--muscular and/or liver.
A VERY slow jog for five minutes is a good way to bring your aerobic system on line without burning much glycogen. It prepares you NOT to encounter any lactate burn of any sort in the first mile or two of the race. The key thing is to make it slow. Very slow. Four minutes below marathon pace, for example.
If you don't warm up in this way, you run the risk of burning glycogen excessively in the first five minutes of the race as your body struggles, without you even realizing that it's happening, to bring all systems on line.
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