Effective Marathon Warm-up and Preparation Tips

Most runners who have a marathon or half marathon experience understand the value of warming up. But most novice runners don’t know how to warm up for a marathon. Warmups are critical for; 

● Increasing your body temperature

● Loosening your leg muscles

● Triggering neural pathways between the muscles and brain to increase power and muscle contraction.

● Increase of blood flow that releases oxygen to the leg muscles.

Not all warmups are suitable for a marathon. As opposed to short races, marathons require glycogen and energy conservation which means you have to find the balance between optimal performance and priming your body for the long race ahead.

When Should the Warm-up Start?

You need enough sleep before running a marathon. But losing a few hours for a pre-run warm-up won’t affect your performance. 

Spare at least 2.5 hours before the marathon for warm-up and preparation. It will help your body reach its optimal level in time by becoming alert and sparing some time to fuel.

Performing Shakeout Runs

It can be a shakeout walk or running. The important thing when performing this activity is to less as less energy as possible. You can start with brisk walking before adjusting your strides to a jog. 

The point is to get your feet warm and blood circulating fast through the body. Shakeout runs help you prepare your mind for the challenge of the marathon. 

● Walk or jog for 10 minutes and remember to stretch your body muscles with some light exercises. 2.5 hours before the race is enough time to loosen your muscles, let your body become alert, shower, and refuel to restore your glycogen and energy levels.

● Remember to use the bathroom to avoid inconveniences or discomfort during the race.

When Should the Warm-up Start

Start line Preparations

Step 1: Clothing

You are at the start line and the race is about to be underway. You should consider all options to keep warm. Most marathons start early and the sun might not be up yet to warm you. 

As you await at your corral, (non-elite runners stay at the start line for a while)you can consider wearing warm clothes that you won’t mind shedding off once your body heats up after a mile or two of running.  

Items of clothing help you to keep warm without having to expend the energy that you will need for the marathon run. 

It’s better to be dry and too warm than be slightly cold before the race. 

Warming up in a limited space

Step 2: Warming up in a limited space

At the start line, you don't have much room and the warm-up exercise should be dynamic  stretching. 

Consider exercises like lunges that reduce internal resistance while promoting stride efficiency and hip extension. Such exercises will help ready your legs for the miles and also avoid muscle cramps deep in the race. 

Dynamic exercises should take less than five minutes to prepare your legs and body for optimal performance.

A dynamic stretching routine should be simple yet effective. It can be a combination of exercises that include:

● Leg swings

● Lunges

● Ankle rolls

● Skipping drills etc.

Note that you should’ve performed most of the pre-run exercises in your marathon preparation plan. These exercises when performed for the first time can leave your body sore and it’s not a feeling you wish to have when running a marathon course. 

Implement these stretching routines in your daily marathon pre-workouts and runs to make your body adjust on marathon day.

Preparing your Lungs

Step 3: Preparing your Lungs

Marathon running doesn’t need critical priming of your metabolic system (breathing, lungs, heart) like shorter races. When running a marathon or a half marathon, you can adjust easily by warming up on the first kilometers of the run. 

It means that you need to be ideally slow at the start to allow you to measure your body performance for the day. Most novice runners jump to the sound of the gun and get riled up by other runners and make the mistake of starting the race fast.


The marathon warmup is a significant part of the months of preparation you have attained. If you are running your first marathon you need to know how to prepare for a marathon. The idea is to prime your body and legs while conserving as much energy and glycogen levels for the race ahead.

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