What is a Shake Out Run?

What Is a Shakeout Run and How May It Help You Set a Personal Best in Your Next Race?


For many of us, if we enter a running race, we tend to try to conserve our energy the morning of just to ensure that we can finish the whole thing without embarrassing ourselves. Personally, I have witnessed runners sitting down on the curb and doing some light stretching before a race as if even standing up for a short period of time could lessen their performance. 


However, perhaps we are approaching it all wrong. After all, a body in motion stays in motion. Instead of relaxing right up until the word “Go!”, we should see if we can give our body a jolt to get it into action sooner. Many of the elite runners out there are doing a shakeout run a few hours before the official running race as a way to jump-start their bodies into action. 

Tell Me More About This Shakeout Run

The wee hours of the morning of the race can be like a slow attack on your body and mind as your system wants to rest but can’t. Still, the restlessness usually begins the night before as you prepare to go to bed. It’s like the whole “first day of school” feeling that you used to get when you were a kid and it makes sleeping almost impossible. You try your best to get some sleep, but instead you spend most of the night staring at the clock or playing with your phone. 


While you would like a good night of sleep, knowing that there is a competition early the next morning can keep you tossing and turning all night. Before you know it, your alarm is going off and you are waking up an hour before the race, annoyed and irritated. 


Nevertheless, veteran runners are putting those jitters to good use with a performance-enhancing shakeout run.


A shakeout run is usually just a light ten-minute jog about three hours before the actual start of the race. But it is much more than just putting your nervousness to use. It can help your racing performance an hour or two down the road.

What is a Shakeout Run?

Benefits of a Shakeout Run

There are a few key benefits to a shakeout run that should make you want to try this strategy before your next big race. 


For instance, this light jog will get blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles. When your blood is circulating well and oxygen is transported to your contracting muscles, it can carry over to a better athletic performance in the near future. 


As your body temperature increases, it usually pays off in improved flexibility. With a shakeout run a couple of hours before the race, you are not asking your body to go from zero to sixty at the drop of a hat. You are essentially getting the motor running early for maximum performance. 


In addition, you are shaking off the early morning cobwebs before much of your competition. How many times have you seen people yawning at the start line minutes before the race is to start because it is still early morning? If you still have sleep in your eyes, you do not have your sight on winning the race. Exercise clears the mind and sharpens your thoughts. Don’t wait until halfway through the race to become more alert.


How to Set Your Shakeout Routine

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated on the morning of the race. In fact, it is quite simple to establish a shakeout routine. 


  • Wake up three hours before the race actually begins.
  • Grab your sweats and go for a light morning jog for approximately ten minutes or so. 
  • Afterward, some runners choose to take a hot shower to get even more circulation flowing through the body and increase their core temperature.
  • Eat your pre-race breakfast that will supply you with the energy you need. 
  • Since your digestive system is already up and running, take advantage of it and go to the bathroom before heading to the race. The last thing you want to do is combat those horrible porta-potty lines as you are getting your game face on. 
  • Arrive at the race, grab your number, and edge your way to the front of the line. You should be fully awake and raring to go, putting yourself ahead of the game already against the rest of the competition.

Create the Perfect Shakeout Run For Your Needs

Once you have completed a few races with shakeout runs in place, you can start tweaking the exact timing of it all. For instance, you may find that you benefit from a shakeout run only an hour and a half before the race begins. Furthermore, you may find that the ten minutes of light jogging is not enough to get your body in motion and will want to extend the time another five minutes or so.


There is not an exact science for a shakeout run as what might work for you may not be perfect for someone else. Play around with it a bit. Record your race times with and without shakeout runs and examine your times closely. Does it help you set a better pace at the beginning of the race? Are you still finishing strong? Nobody knows your body better than you, so look at your stats and see how the shakeout runs are affecting your overall performance and adjust accordingly. 


Picture of Ryan Crawley

Ryan Crawley

Ryan Crawley is a journalist, educator, and health and fitness fanatic that currently makes his home in Illinois. With a Masters in Reading and Literacy and award-winning personal training results with his fitness clients, he is still reminded daily that he is not a doctor like his wife Katie. Ryan enjoys spending time with his dogs Flair and Smoosh and kitten Charlotte. In his free moments, he likes to write books for children that will hopefully be on shelves in the near future.

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