By Chrissy Fink

Race Season has started… Are you going to warm up on the big day – or just get started? Whether you are a beginner or an elite athlete, on race day, you need to have a plan of action. Are you going to warm up at the start line like you may have seen some pros do or should you save all your energy for the race, jumping in cold turkey if you will? And, if you do decide to warm up, how should you do that exactly?

To get the answer, we turned to Jon Jon Park, CEO and founder of Legacy Gym, a state-of-the-art personal training center in Los Angeles. Jon Jon has worked with superstars including Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings and U.S. Long Drive Champion Mike Hooper. With such prestigious superstars putting their bodies in his hands, we figured he would know!

Click here for our 6 week guide to running faster!

His advice: pro’s will absolutely do a warm up! You need to do a physical warm up to activate the particular muscles specific to the event. According to Jon Jon, it’s essential to warm up for 3 reasons:

To raise the body’s temperature
To get circulation going
To loosen the joints and tendons

That being said, Jon Jon recommends limiting the warm up to no more than 10 – 15 minutes, or until you break a light sweat. He also emphasizes the importance of keeping the intensity moderate. You should warm up “to a level where you would be able to hold a conversation.”

He also recommends dynamic stretches before a race to help both reduce muscle stiffness and prevent injury. Both Runner’s World and Livestrong.com similarly recommend warming up and dynamic stretching prior to a race to prevent injuries and keep your energy level up. Static stretches, though, should be left to after the race. According to a study by Lynn Panton, PhD, from Florida State University (recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research), static stretching may, in fact, lower endurance performance and increase the energy cost of running.

Learn the difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching! Click here!

Complete your warm up about 15 minutes before the race begins, relax and have fun. And remember something Dr. Scott Weiss, a NYC-based doctor of physical therapy and a board certified athletic trainer, told us, “the only person you race against is yourself.” (Well, unless, we guess, you’re a pro-athlete, in which case you probably wouldn’t need these tips anyway!)

A protein shake recipe for after!

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