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A good warmup ensures that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen before you give them a vigorous workout. It also raises the temperature of your muscles so they can move more optimally and with a bit more flex!

There are a few different ways that you can warm up for running. Your muscles need warming up before any activity, that’s a fact. Imagine sitting at the office all day, some of your muscles have become dormant such as your glutes and hips. Then going out for a run without a proper structured warm-up for running, your body is not going to like it!

By slowly raising your heart rate, the warmup also helps minimize stress on your heart. When you start your run, you have to think of your heart as you would your leg muscles. After all, it is still a muscle!

How to Warm Up For Running

Here are some good steps to follow for a good warm-up for running!

  1. Do about 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise to loosen up your muscles. This could be briskly walking, jumping on a stationary bike or jogging on the spot. Anything that elevates your heart rate and gets those muscles warm! Although, this totally depends on the type of session you are doing. If you are doing a recovery run there is little need for this part of the warm-up, the next part is crucial though!
  2. Follow this by some pre-run mobility. This ensures that all of your muscles that you are going to use are nice and mobile, woken up and ready to be worked. Doing this type of warm-up for running also lets you know what certain areas of your body are feeling particularly tight, or just not feeling it that day. None of your pre-run warm-up or mobility should be a static warm-up. (Holding a stretch for more than 3-4 secs)
  3. Do 3 x 40-50m stride outs, what I mean by stride outs is start slowly running and building up speed every 10 meters or so. This is not a build-up to max speed. I’d say it is more like a build-up to 5K pace with your best form. Slowly recover after each one and don’t stop abruptly.
  4. Begin your run. Don’t start out racing, but instead jog slowly at first and gradually build into your run. You should be breathing very easily, and you should be able to easily speak a sentence. (Session depending) If you feel yourself getting out of breath, slow down. This goes the same when you are pacing an event. The last thing you want to do is to go out at the start as hard as you possibly can, get into some oxygen debt and suffer for the rest of the race.

    Jason Fitzgerald from Strengthrunning did a great post on static stretching.

Watch Your Running Technique

Pay close attention to your running posture and technique when you begin your run. Ensure you are running with good form before you start to up the pace, so you can dial this technique into your faster efforts. Your pre-run mobility and strides will help with this side of things. Especially if you have activated your Glutes. Going from my personal experience if I haven’t activated my Glute Max and Glute Med before my run my lower back has to work a lot harder because those two aren’t doing their job!

Warm Up For Running

Listen To Your Body

Relating back to the going out too fast in step 3. If you start out too fast, you run the risk of pulling a muscle or tweaking a tendon or getting into a pace that you simply can’t sustain. You’re going to hate that run, wish you never started it and absolutely dread the next one. Listen to what your body is telling you and realise that a pace you did last week might not be sustainable this week due to a number of different factors

Here is another recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which backs the benefits of a running warmup: Researchers found that when runners performed a dynamic stretching routine before a treadmill workout, they were better able to sustain a hard effort for longer than those who didn’t.

So before any harder run ensure you are taking some time to make sure you are fully prepared to warm up for running. An easy 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular activity to start with, another 5-10 minutes spent on mobility, some stride outs then be aware of your pace for the first few minutes of the session and dial in your technique.

written by
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Marcus Sladden

Founder of Focusrunning from Norwich

Age group: Open

Club: City Of Norwich Athletics Club

Coach: Paul Evans

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MY DISCIPLINES
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