The idea of warming up before a run sounds strange. Isn’t jogging a warm-up before you workout in the gym? This is true but is it the most effective warm-up before a weight training session? Spending a few minutes to get the blood flowing before lacing up your shoes and hitting the road has excellent benefits. Then, it’s time to get loose.
What Does It Mean To Warm Up Before a Run?
Instead of thinking of running as a warm-up, runners should do dynamic stretches, and light cardio exercises to prepare for their run. For instance, if you’re running up a mountain, you may want to perform stair climbs to hit the same muscles you’ll use when climbing that elevation.
The goal of warming up is to increase your body temperature to perform better physical activity. By warming up your muscles and joints before starting a strenuous workout, you will help reduce the risk of injury and make the exercise more comfortable. Warming up does the following:
- Raises the core body temperature and elevates the heart rate
- It turns on the central nervous system and helps the muscles fire more effectively
- Enhances blood circulation to help muscles get the flow of oxygen and nutrients while also flushing away any toxins and metabolic waste that was there beforehand
- Mentally and emotionally prepare you to move and sweat
The Benefits of Warming Up For Runners
There is some debate about whether or not a warm-up and cool-down period are beneficial for athletes. However, most studies show that these warm-up activities can improve your running performance.
Warming up before your run can help to:
- Activate your central nervous system to improve athletic performance and be more aware of your body’s position and movements.
- Improve your muscles’ ability to contract and lengthen, which is essential for the muscles to power your stride for a fast run.
- It helps your body produces hormones necessary for creating and using energy.
- Turn on the muscle fibers, slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles responsible for speed, power, and long-distance endurance.
There is evidence that warming up before exercise can help prevent injuries and reduce your risks of having post-workout aches and pains.
How to Warm Up Before a Run
Many runners skip the warm-up part of their run because of the idea that warming up takes too much time. However, a great warm-up can only take about 5 minutes. In other words, if you are doing an hour-long run, adding 5 minutes to the overall workout for the benefits associated with warming up is entirely worth the time. These five minutes are a small investment for a faster, robust, and more efficient run.
The two main parts of your next warm-up are cardio movements and dynamic stretches.
- Starting With Light Cardio
Warm up with a cardio exercise that mimics the movements you’ll be doing on your run. Examples include:
- Lunges – great for if you are doing faster sprinting or doing other high-power, explosive running movements
- Brisk walking – if you’re doing a standard run
- Hill climbs, stair climbs, or striders – for when preparing for a run that involves elevation changes
There is no need to break into a heavy sweat before embarking on your entire run. But, on the other hand, you don’t want to work too hard before starting your run.
- Move Into Dynamic Stretches
No more need for sitting on the ground and reaching for your feet. Instead, dynamic stretches incorporate movement while also lengthening your muscles. For running, focus on dynamic stretches that target your lower body.
Running dynamic stretches can include examples like Backward Skips, Crossover Walks, Side Lunges, Bodyweight Squats, and High-Plank Hip Openers. A great warm-up to use is the Jog to Quad Stretch. Where you jog in place for a couple of seconds. Then, grab one leg’s ankle behind you and hold the quad stretch for a couple of seconds. Release slowing while getting back into a jog; repeat the cycle, so each quad is stretched ten times. And adding in the Knee Hugs warm-up is another easy addition for any running. While standing tall, bring one of your knees to your chest and then pull it close to you while simultaneously extending your opposite leg.
Fuel Up And Enjoy The Run
Remember to each a nutrition meal a few hours before your run or a small snack in the morning if you go out before the sun rises. Some of the most well-researched supplements that help power up your run are Vitamin D, Coenzyme Q10, a Protein Powder, and Beetroot. Help you get the most out of those miles on the pavement. Keep the body fueled adequately and enjoy the road.