Millennium Running Club – Spring Session Training Tip 6
A warm-up for runners should be performed before all quicker paced training runs and races. It prepares you to run fast with efficiency. The warm-up elevates muscle temperature, which in turn decreases muscle resistance, improving the contraction and relaxation of the muscle-kind of like The Tin Man getting a lube job in “The Wizard of Oz.” There is less strain on the tendons, better blood flow, and greater flexibility and range of motion when running. Improved cardiac output allows for greater oxygen exchange too. In a nutshell, the warm-up will improve your performance.
When should I do my warm-up, and how much time should I spend warming up? First, your warm-up needs to be completed 5 to 10 minutes before your workout or race, providing you time to use the bathroom, drink some fluids, alter clothing needs and change into racing shoes if needed. Once completed, a good warm-up will continue to have a positive impact on your muscles for up to 30 minutes, but will gradually lose some of its effectiveness within 10 minutes of completion. If you complete your warm-up too early, just continue to perform a few very short strides while waiting. The length of your warm-up depends upon the race distance, the weather, and your present fitness level. A highly trained runner on a cooler day preparing to race a 5 km may perform a 30 to 40 minute warm-up. A beginning runner on that same day, may only be capable of performing a 10 minute warm-up while still having enough energy to perform well in the race. Likewise, an elite runner racing a half marathon or marathon may perform just a very light, 10 minute warm-up, while the novice runner hoping to finish the distance (jog/walk) may not perform any warm-up. The shorter, faster workout or race requires a longer warm-up period. Conversely, longer races require less warm-up. Likewise, the cooler the day, the longer the warm-up, as opposed to a very warm day that requires less warm-up.
Perform your warm-up with a gradual increase in intensity. Jog easily for 5 to 20 minutes, increasing the pace a bit near the end. Follow the jog with 3 to 5 minutes of dynamic stretches (leg drills). Finally, add 4 to 8 short and progressively faster strides (15 to 20 seconds) with a full recovery between each. Don’t forget that if you misjudged your warm-up and find yourself cooling down before the start of your race or track workout, perform a few more very short strides, if possible. At least keep moving. Just a final thought about static stretching-do this after a run, workout, or race. Stretching cold muscles is never a good thing.