The Importance of
the Warm up.
Have you ever wondered why people warm-up before a race? Why
waste the energy? Why not save it for the race?
Quite simply, the warm-up gets the body ready for the hard work ahead
of it. Most bodies need to be gently coaxed out of their protective
shell in order to push hard-blood flow to the various muscles needs to be
increased so the muscle warms up and becomes a bit more flexible, which
allows for easier movement and reduced chance of injury.
I've been running for a loonngg time, and
morning runs are my favourite, but also my nemesis-without 20-30min of
walking around and a cup of coffee, I start my runs like a 70 year old
who's never run before, and I'm almost 40, so that's not right. When I
start my morning runs, I'm stiff and sore and slow for 20min and then,
gradually, the blood starts to get through to deeper and deeper muscle
tissue, and I loosen up. And speed up.
One of those muscles is, of course, the heart. Have you ever
noticed you breath really heavily at the start
of your run and after a little while, things settle down? You've
just warmed up.
I suggest every run you do start off at a gentle pace, then builds to
the pace you want to maintain. Using your breathing as a guide
works very well for this. If you are breathing hard, you started to hard. Later in the run, it's a different
story. I'm talking about the first 10-15min.
The importance of a warm-up when racing has never been scientifically
proven to be beneficial, but the mountain of anecdotal evidence is rather
impressive, so I believe in it a great deal. Further, I've always
believed that to be good at whatever it is you want to be good at, you do
what the other people who are good at it do, and when it comes to
running, they all warm-up before workouts and races. Therefore, so
Again, the idea of the warm-up is to get your body ready for race
effort. Ideally, you want to get your body ready so it's good to go
on the start line, not a kilometer or two after the gun goes off.
With that in mind, I suggest the following as a good routine to follow
for a 5 or 10k race. It should take 30min or so.
- Run for 10-15min
building your intensity from ultra easy to just under threshold
(race pace) for the final 2 minutes or so.
a bit more
- Change clothes
into your racing attire
- Move out to the
start line and, finally,
- Do 4-5 easy
accelerations of between 80-100m. Start by running easily and
gently get yourself up to race pace within the acceleration, hold
for 5-10 sec. Run easily back to where you started from and
repeat 4-5 times. These are not designed to get you tired, so
take more rest if necessary, but be sure to keep moving.
- You should be
ready to go.
At the beginning of this article, I asked two questions: Why waste the
energy? Why not save it for the race?
Well, if you actually want to race the event, your energy supply to
cover the distance should be the least of your worries. If it is,
you will be surviving the event, not racing it.
One final note is that the importance of a warm-up is directly
proportional to a few things:
- how hard you intend to push yourself-if you're
out for a social run, it's not that important. If you're out
for a fast time, it is very important to be ready to go when the gun
- how long the race is-the longer the race, the
shorter the warm-up because the intensity of the effort is not as
high, so you can build into it in the early stages of the
race. In a short race, you don't have time to find your
rhythm. You gotta have it from the start.
- the weather-considering the above, if it's really
hot, a warm-up is less necessary (but still necessary). If
it's really cold, it's very necessary.
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