Here is the number one, most important tip for all track and field athletes. This is especially important to athletes who ‘sprint’ versus athletes who run distances. Are you ready? Are you listening?
Warm up right until your race is about to begin. You want to be a little bit sweaty. You want to be breathing a little bit harder than you do at rest. You want your heart pumping and blood coursing through your vessels. You want your body to have all of its delivery systems preloaded so that for the next 20 or 30 or 60 seconds your muscles can perform at the very peak of ability. Your muscles need blood and oxygen. If the heart and lungs are not primed before the race begins the runner will not run as fast as they can.
If you are not warm when you walk up to the starting line, then your body will need to take a few moments to get warm. By then the race will be over. In a sprint competition a few seconds is a lifetime. If all the runners in a sprint are equally fast, the race will be won by the runner who is warmed up and has his engine running before the race begins.
PS: This is just as true for distance runners, but it is easier to understand for sprinters. My 5K distance runs are much, much faster when I am really warmed up before the race begins.
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