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How To Warm Up For Running

Marcus Sladden

Marcus Sladden

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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!

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!

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 let’s you know what certain areas of your body are feeling particular 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)

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

    Here is an example of a pre-run warm up and mobility session for you to try pre-run. 

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. 

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 a sustainable this week due to a number of different factors

Here is another recent study published in the 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.

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