Experiment: How Much Does a Warm Up Help in a 5k?

Poole Parkrun

Poole Parkrun

On Saturday it was time for Parkrun again – the weekly 5k in my local park. One of my longer term goals for this year is to run a sub-18 minute

5k/Parkrun although this will mean beating my PB by 47 seconds (doesn’t sound much but at 5k 47 secs is huge!).


Past Results

My recent Parkrun performances have been as follows:

Parkrun times

Parkrun times








I managed to duck under 19 minutes for the first time in early November 2013 and kept it that way for the rest of the year, finishing in my current PB of 18:46. So far this year I’m yet to break 19 minutes again!

The Warm Up

So this week at Parkrun, I wondered if my warmup routine might help improve my time. Everything I’ve read previously suggests that doing a warm up may help your time over a short distance like 5k. Think about it, if you’re running 5000 metres, there’s no point in spending the first 2000 metres getting into your running rhythm!

The Run

So it was with this in mind that I arrived at Parkrun 40 minutes early in lovely sunshine. I started off with some light stretching, before running a very slow 1k followed by another 1k of running which included dynamic stretches, bounds and a few sprints. I stopped and had a drink, retied my shoelaces and ran another 400 metres slowly to keep my heart pumping ready for the start. At the 3,2,1 countdown I already had a raised pulse but didn’t feel at all tired and off we all went.

I can tell you it didn’t make the blindest bit of difference and my time was actually slower than the previous week by 14 seconds. The previous week I’d done a cursory 400m metre warm up but mainly just stood around chatting to friends before the start.

Maybe it works for some people, but not for me on this occasion.


4 thoughts on “Experiment: How Much Does a Warm Up Help in a 5k?

    • Yeah thinking about it, I did have a couple of weeks with hardly any running in early to mid Feb when I got those blisters and they say your fitness is about 10-14 day behind your training… so it may be the knock on effect of less training! I think I expected the warmup to make me feel instantly ‘on the pulse’ from the start line but it just made me feel more tired at the end than usual.

  1. I’ve done a couple of park runs, but haven’t been able to since just before xmas as my local one has been cancelled every week due to floods. Its all off-road.

    For me personally, not only is a warm up vital, I would say I jog at least 1000m to slightly warm myself up, but the correct routine in the morning. As they start pretty early, to even think about a good performance I need to be up at 7ish and having something to eat, otherwise I know I won’t run well. I would recommend cutting out the bounds and dynamic stretching… I know some people swear by these, but I find that these exert too much energy.

    It’s also pacing yourself correctly, going to hard for that first 1k can seriously affect the next 4k.

    My first park run I ran about 20:45, I got up about an hour before the race. I did one a couple of weeks later where I got up around 2 hours before and ran 19:56.

    • Thanks for sharing! I think I was expecting some kind of miracle time as a result of a proper warmup – but I went slower. I have two young kids so I’m usually up and having my Ready Brek at least 2-3 hour beforehand! I think I will leave out those bounds and dynamic stretches like you say. My dad’s 60, swears by the fact that he never warms up and ran an 18:12 Parkrun a few weeks ago!

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