Before You Race
Much has been said and written about racing. What about before the race? You've done the training, you've laid out your clothes, you've eaten your pre-race meal, and you've set your goals.
Now you're at the venue waiting for a good race to happen. Before the gun goes off you must get physically "race ready". For a half marathon and up you can minimize your preparations but for a 5K or a 10K you must actively prepare for a more intense effort.
Carry water with you to sip on throughout the warm up. First you must warm up your muscles with a 15 or 20 minute jog (remember how in training you didn't start to feel comfortable for the first mile or two?) This will also trigger muscle memory. Jog comfortably but break a sweat. Next take 5 minutes to stand/walk around and swing your arms (windmills) and legs (cross-overs). This would be a good time to visit the porta-potty. To take your muscles through a full range of motion, do some dynamic warm-ups: high-knees/quick feet, butt kickers, high knee skips, and or karaoke (alternating one leg front and back while moving sideways). Finally be prepared to do 5-6 strides (gradually building up your speed over 30-40 yards). Your goal is to heat up your muscles, increase your heart rate, and increase your oxygen demand to warn your body what you are going to expect from it during the race. This whole warm-up will take 30-45 minutes.
Try to complete this warm-up sequence with 7-10 minutes to spare so that you can get to the starting line and focus more on the mental preparation.