Runners are a quirky bunch. I should know since I officially joined their ranks earlier this year. And our warm-up rituals and routines reflect our quirkiness. For example, some runners don’t run during their pre-race warm-ups; they stretch and stretch and s t r e t c h. I’ve watched runners sling a leg over a conveniently located bench, bow low over said slung leg and stay there. Nose to kneecap. Unmoving. For many, many minutes. About the time I was ready to walk over and check to see if they’d gone into a permanent spasm, they straightened up and switched to the other leg. I’m not super flexible, but that’s okay. I’m not really interested in counting leg hairs I missed with my razor while I’m warming up for a race. It’s gotta be distracting.
Some runners jog and actually run to warm up for a race. They start their warm-ups an hour prior to race time with a slow jog. After 20 minutes or so, they switch to a run. A fast run. Like the kind of pace I’d run during an actual race. I’d like to tag those runners with red spray paint; you know, to see if they beat me in the race. If I ran in warm-ups like they do I’d have to sit down and rest midway through the actual race.
Some runners just walk around to warm up. They are easy to pick out of a crowd; all you have to do is listen. Their mouths move faster than their legs as they yak with their friends. These are the runners that I stand in front of at the starting line; I figure that if they’re talking about who drank what last night at the club then I can beat them in a race. I may be a lot older than them, but I’m also a lot smarter when it comes to my drink choices the night before a race.
My favorite runners to watch warm up, though, are the ones who are spread out flat on the ground, presumable sleeping soundly, when I arrive an hour or so before race time. These runners don’t so much as twitch for almost that whole hour. . .I’ve studied a few very carefully. No twitch. No rollover. Nada. Until about 15 minutes before race time, when they suddenly spring up from the ground! They transition from dead sleep to full-on run in like 3 seconds; and I mean they take off like they are running with the bulls of Pamplona, all wild eyed and twitchy. They sprint to their spot at the start line. I stand behind these runners; I keep a closeeye on anyone who paws the ground and snorts.
As a new-ish runner I’m still trying to figure out how much of a warm-up my body needs before running a 5K. On the one hand, I’d love to do a thorough warm-up, complete with sprints, but on the other hand, I’m opposed to lining up at the start of a race smelling like yesterday’s fish dinner. When a stinky smelly runner’s sweat-drenched arm contacts mine at the start line, I want to run for my antibacterial wipes. But I usually don’t have enough time. The gun sounds and we’re off!
Are you a runner? What’s your pre-race warm-up routine? Um. Have I seen you?