As a runner, warming up right is the foundation of your running success. In fact, the warm-up is the most important part of the workout.
The warm-up sets the tone for the rest of your workout. It can help you make the most out of the training session, key for helping you reach your full athletic potential.
On the other hand, skipping the 10-minute warm-up that experts insist upon can cause otherwise preventable issues, like muscle pulls, ankle sprains, tendon tweaks, and premature fatigue. And you want none of this.
In today’s post, you are going to learn all about the importance of warming up before every run. On top of that, I will even teach you how to warm up.
So, are you excited? Then here we go.
What’s a Warm-Up?
A warm up is a low-impact, low-intensity exercise that should be completed before running and other more strenuous exercise.
Here are the main reasons why warming up rocks:
First of all, a proper warm-up to prepare the body for the high-intensity, high-impact nature of running by gradually increasing heart rate, boosting blood flow to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and getting your mind ready for a workout.
Secondly, warming up also causes your blood vessels to widen—what’s known as vasodilation—which allows for better oxygen delivery to the muscles. This ensures that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen and nutrients needed to perform and carry out repetitive contractions—all of which is vital for preventing discomfort and premature fatigue.
Furthermore, warming up also improves joint range of motion. This reduces the risk of soft tissue injury—mainly to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Specific warm-up Directions & Tips
The length and intensity of your warm-up depend on your fitness level, workout intensity, temperature, the amount of clothing worn, and your personal preferences.
But as a rule of thumb, the more vigorous the exercise, the longer it should take you to get warmed up. This means that you should spend more time warming up for more intense running workouts, such as sprints, or hill reps.
On the other hand, you can spend less time warming up for easy, to moderate sessions, such as easy recovery runs.
The Warm-up Breakdown
Now let’s take you through my favorite warm-up. What follows is the exact training recipe I follow whenever I’m warming for a workout, or when I’m working with another runner or training partner.
A good dynamic warm-up can take you up to 10 minutes. That comprises 5 minutes of light aerobic movement followed by 5 minutes of dynamic exercises.
Sometimes, that might add up to 15 minutes, but it’s worth it—especially before any intense, vigorous, running training.
The Two Main Ingredients
A proper warm-up includes two distinct phases.
First, start with a low- to moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging on the spot, or low-intensity running.
In general, brisk walking is my default setting for warming up.
Many runners scoff at walking. But, in fact, walking is the perfect low-intensity exercise to ease your body out of sedentary mode into running mode. This holds especially true when you’re heading out the door for a run after a long day of sitting at a desk or a night of sleep.
As a result, start your runs with a 5-minute walk. Walk for more if you are exercising first thing in the morning or after prolonged sitting. Also, make sure to pump your arms or swing them side to side to help warm up the muscles of your upper body.
Secondly, do a dynamic stretching routine.
So, what is it? And how can it help you warm up right?
A dynamic warm-up simply means you’re moving as you stretch. It consists of a series of mobility and strength exercises designed to increase total body temperature, fire up the nervous system, improve range of motion, and reduce functional limitations.
A dynamic warm-up will reduce the risks of injury and make your muscle contractions more efficient.
Static stretching is the opposite. And it’s not the best way to get your body for exercise. The fact is, research shows that static stretching—holding a stretch for an extended period—can hinder performance and might lead to injury. And you don’t want that.
The Runners Warm-up Routine You Need
Go straight through all 10 without resting between each movement.
- Toe Walks
- Leg Swings
- Heel Walks
- Inchworm Walks
- Side Lunges
- Dynamic Pigeon
- Frog Walk-In
- Toy soldier
- Butt kicks
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