Designer Warm ups - The Perfect Warm Up for Your Running Goal

 

By Rick Morris

 

One of the best known and loved quotations in American history is the phrase penned by Thomas Jefferson as part of the Declaration of Independence - "All men are created equal..." With apologies to our founding fathers, that quote doesn't hold true for warm ups. A more appropriate quote for runners would be - "All warm up routines are not created equal".

 

Many distance runners will perform their same warm up time after time no matter what their goal for that session is. This is assuming that they perform a warm up at all! A proper warm up is important for several reasons. It increases the blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles so they are ready for activity. It will get your muscles to peak operating temperature and increase their flexibility, elasticity and range of motion. A proper warm up will lubricate your joints and tendons. It will gradually increase your heart rate so your heart is primed to deliver energy producing oxygen to your leg muscles. Last but certainly not least, a proper warm up will increase your performance level and help you avoid injuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why won't your standard warm up work for all race or training goals? It will work, or at least it will help. But if you want to maximize the efficiency of your warm up you should tailor it to your specific goal and current  situation. If you're preparing for a longer, more moderate paced race or training run you need a shorter, less intense warm up. On the other hand, if you're performing a shorter , faster run your warm up should be a bit longer and should include some more intense phases.

 

Generally speaking your warm up will be more effective if you start with an easy jog to open up the oxygen and nutrient delivering capillaries in your legs. You don't need a long aerobic warm up, just keep moving until your body feels warm and loose. The next step are some dynamic drills to improve your functional flexibility. At that point you're ready for some more intense phases of your warm up such as plyometrics and strides. I usually advise leaving the static stretching for after your run, but if you have any lingering tight or sore spots in your muscles you can finish up with some light static stretching in those problem areas.

 

Here are my recommendations for a good warm up routine for specific goals.

 

800 Meters to 1 Mile

 

25 Minutes to Start Time - Jog easily for 5 to 10 minutes or until your body feels warm and loose.

15 Minutes to Start Time - Perform about 5 minutes of dynamic flexibility drills.

10 Minutes to Start Time - Perform  about 5 minutes of plyometrics.

5  Minutes to Start Time - Do 3 to 5 strides of about 25 to 50 meters at race pace. Also some light static stretching if you have any problem spots.

2 Minutes to Start Time - Active rest. This rest period will allow your muscles to fully replenish their supplies of the ATP that fuel your body. Keep your legs in motion by either walking or hopping in place to keep your heart rate slightly elevated but stay as relaxed as possible.

 

2 Mile to 10K

 

20 Minutes to Start Time - Jog easily for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel warm and loose.

10 Minutes to Start Time - Perform about 5 minutes of dynamic flexibility drills.

5 Minutes to Start Time - Do about 2 minutes of plyometrics.

3 Minutes to Start Time - Perform 3 to 5 strides of about 50 to 100 meters at race pace. Do light static stretching on problem spots.

 

1/2 Marathon

 

20 Minutes to Start Time - Jog easily for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel warm and loose.

10 Minutes to Start Time - Perform 2 minutes of dynamic flexibility drills.

8 Minutes to Start Time - Do 2 to 3 strides of about 100 to 200 meters at race pace. So some light static stretching if necessary on problem spots.

5 Minutes to Start Time - Hydrate with 8 to 12 ounces of sports drink.

 

Marathon or Longer

 

15 Minutes to Start Time - Jog easily for about 5 minutes

10 Minutes to Start Time - Do 5 minutes of light dynamic flexibility drills. If you have any problems spots, do some light static stretching.

5 Minutes to Start Time - Hydrate with 8 to 12 ounces of sports drink.

Keep your warm up to a minimum before a race of marathon distance or longer. Your priority during a long race is to conserve your supply of carbohydrates, not waste them on a warm up. The moderate pace of a marathon or longer race minimizes the need for a long warm up.

 

 

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