How To Properly Warm-Up For Running
Many runners over look the importance of a good warm up before a workout or before a race. It may be boring and you may not want to warm up, but your warm up will directly affect the way you run and it will also help you prevent injuries.
When you warm up, you make your muscles loose by increasing blood flow, start to increase your heart rate, and it starts to control your breathing. All of these are important because they are all affected as you run. You never just want to start running at full speed, this will tire you out faster because you body isn’t used to the stress you are giving it.
But if you were to perform some stretches and begin to lightly jog or run in place for ten to twenty minutes you will see a lot better results in your workout or race. A warm-up is recommended if you are going to exceed your lactate threshold, which means the pace you can achieve during one hour of running. Your muscles become filled with lactic acid, and a warm-up right before a run can diminish a lot of this acid.
You should also note that you will not be doing the same warm-up routine every time. For instance, you wouldn’t do the same warm-up if you were doing an easy workout, compared to, if you were about to run a 10k, it just doesn’t make since. You would obviously do different warm-up techniques and would perform the warm up a lot longer. You would do a longer warm-up if you were doing a marathon as compared to if you were doing a 5k. But in either circumstance a warm-up is one of the most important things you can do for your running success.
That being said, let’s look at a great warm up that you should incorporate in your routine, which will not only warm up your muscles, but will make you be able to run faster and longer as a result.
General Rules Of Warming Up
In most cases if you are doing a light jog it isn’t really necessary to warm up. Yes, maybe a few stretches will help you if you are sore or feel aches, but in all seriousness it isn’t necessary. But as soon as you pass that pace from jog to an actual run, then, like said before, it’s crucial.
There are two goals that you try to achieve when warming up, and those are
1. Increase your core body temperature, which increases blood flow and lubricates your muscles.
2. Prepare your muscles, so they are used to the movements that you will be doing in your workout. (Muscle Activation)
Once these two goals are achieved you have successfully warmed up.
Dynamic Vs. Static
The biggest mistake that a beginner runner will do is to perform static stretches before they go for a run. A static stretch is a typical stretch when you hold a movement for a certain time period, stretching the muscle. It’s a mistake to do this before your workout because you are more susceptible to injuries and it will affect your running speed and your endurance levels.
Think as your muscles as angel hair pasta. Before you boil the pasta it is rigid and can break easy if you apply pressure to it. Essentially you are doing the same thing to your muscles and ligaments, if you perform static stretches before your workout. But after you cook the pasta it becomes flexible and it doesn’t break as easily. It’s the same concept with your muscles after you run.
So you should never perform any type of warm-up that involves you to stretch any muscle. Instead you should perform dynamic exercises, which allow you to warm up and activate your muscles. The difference between static and dynamic, is dynamic involves you to always be moving, where as static is staying in one position for 30 seconds to two minutes.
After your workout you are welcome to incorporate some static stretches to increase your flexibility, but they aren’t required.
The Warm Up
10 to 20 Minute Jog
The easiest way to achieve the first goal is to do a ten to twenty minute light jog. Don’t be concerned with the pace your performing this exercise because it doesn’t matter. As long as you are jogging at a consistent pace, that doesn’t tire you out. Many professional runners warm-up for a full twenty-five to thirty minutes before a race, but not everyone has the endurance to achieve this; people start to tire at the fifteen-minute mark. So ten minutes is a great place to start. But if you don’t feel that you get a good warm-up at ten, increase the time and see what works best for you. You should start to feel a burn in your legs, but not enough that you start to breathe heavy or experience the first signs of fatigue.
Isolated Muscle Movement
This will be the first part to achieve the second goal. In these exercises you are activating the muscles so they can respond quicker during your run and will flex and stretch easier as you workout. Here is a warm-up that you can do for any type of workout or before any race.
The key is to do more repetitions for each exercise if you are going to run longer. The general rule of thumb for all of these exercises is to perform them for 20 seconds. But if you perform them right before a race you should extend that time to another 10 to 20 seconds to make sure you really activate your muscles.
Forward/Backward arm swings – Its important to get blood in your arms before running because you’d be surprised as how much you use you arms while running, so it’s especially important to activate the muscles in your arms.
As you perform these make sure you are making a wide circle, while keeping your arms straight. If you bend your elbows at any time when performing these, then your doing them wrong. Perform the forward swing first and immediately after, perform backward swings.
Forward/Backward Lunges- Lunges are great to activate your quad muscles. They should be performed with your feet pointing forward, with your back straight, and with your head looking forward. You should do 20 good lunges, both backwards and forwards.
Front Leg Swings – These should be performed at a fast pace. These can be done while holding or leaning up against something for support or you can do these free standing.
Side Leg Swings – The same concept as above, only you are doing them at a side-to-side motion.
Jog in place while pushing your knees high
Jog in place with butt kicks
Then you should finish this with a couple of HIIT sessions.
Run for 20 seconds
Walk for 20 seconds
Do these HIIT sessions about four times.