Running – Why Warming Up Is Important

I have to admit it, I am a terrible runner, but I am on the way to improvement. I’ve taken running classes and I practice.  Last December,  I raced in my first 21 kilometre race since the RAK 1/2 Marathon in 2015.  I completed the race without enough training but also without injury.

Here are a few thoughts.

I took some 10 days off over Christmas and then entered racing season again with a short 5 Miler, which really hurt towards the end.

I am convinced that part of this pain lies in the lack of movement and mobility over the festive season, but also in the lack of proper warm-up.

I believe that many triathletes have a discipline that they dislike more than the others.  From what I hear, it is generally the swim leg. For myself, it is the run.  I do not have a typical “runners build”, although arguably, if I ran more that could change.  I was built to last, not for speed!

Running for me is like owning a 1000cc motorbike and but only able to drive it like a 50cc.  My legs feel heavy and it takes me at least 20 minutes to warm to running a sensible speed.  I can’t seem to find the throttle but I know with consistent training and practice I’ll be running like 1000c this year.

My coach prescribes running sessions and I look at them sometimes and groan with fear. Hands up if this happens to you!  However, when I start them, it actually doesn’t feel so bad.  Time is always precious though (in your head), and the warm-up and cool down are often neglected.  I say that time is precious in your head, as the warm-up need only be 5 minutes long.  Will it make a difference to your day? Probably not.  If you’re able to stand in the queue in your favourite coffee shop during the day for five minutes then you can afford a proper warm-up.  Perspective…

In the past, I have become disillusioned with running as I felt I would never be able achieve any distances.  I have proved myself wrong very recently and my lesson learned in the last race was how important it is to conduct a proper warm-up before attempting any kind of run.

Warming up can be kept very simple.  The most important thing to start with is raising your pulse and body temperature, by getting the blood flowing to the muscles.  I normally start by doing simple knee bends to warm up my ankles and then walk briskly for 5 minutes.  After that, some activation of the hip flexors is crucial, which I did not do enough of prior to my last race and had legs like piano wires.

I generally follow the five exercises from Runners World.  They are easy to do and not complicated.  They involve hip flexor, leg flexor, leg extensor, plantar flexor and hip extensor stretching and mobility.

When you do these exercises, it is best not to hold on to anything so you can practice engaging your core. Warming up prior to running is essential to prevent muscle strain or tear, and your muscles will run more efficiently.

See you on the track.

 

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