Why are pre-run and pre-race warm ups important?Runners should understand why performing pre-run warm-ups is so important. Adequate dynamic stretches and warm ups before a run or race have many physiological effects. Warming up properly can increase your performance and look after your muscles, and skipping a warm up can have opposite effects for your run and your muscles. A good warm up dilates the blood vessels leading to your muscles’ temperature, helping with the level of flexibility, efficiency and powerful contraction. For a race, by gradually increasing your heart rate, the warm up also helps to minimise stress on your heart in the first stage of a race.
Physiological effects of warming up:
Increases body temperature– By doing a dynamic warm up before a run, your body raises the temperature in your muscles and total body. This helps speed up your metabolic rate and energy supply.
Increases muscle performance– The increase of muscle temperature lowers the muscle resistance. This allows your muscles to contract faster and stronger, be more flexible to allow better power and avoid injuries.
Increases cardio performance– Dynamic warm ups helps to increase the heart rate, which leads to increased cardio output needed for higher oxygen uptake.
Better joints– Doing regular pre-run dynamic warm ups helps to loosen and strengthen the joints, helping the cartilage layers in the joints to thicken.
Injury prevention– Research has shown that doing pre-run warm ups can reduce the risk of injuries, by increasing the flexibility, warming-up the body tissue, which helps with muscular contractions movements, and body tissue resilience.
Tips for an efficient warm up
1. Warm up time– Any pre-run warm up should last an average of 5 minutes. Pre-race warm up should last about 10 minutes. Before a race the warm up should be long enough for the muscles to reach their optimum temperature.
2. The warm up should elevate the heart rate– Raising the heart rate to 70-80% of maximum will help to lower the stress at the beginning of the race. But it is important to start the warm up routine slowly and not reach the anaerobic threshold.
3. Stop the warm up just before the start of the run or race– If it is a short distance race you can finish the warm up just before the start. If it’s a long-distance race, make sure you have access to some hydration before the race. Before a regular run, you should warm up and go. Waiting too long after a warm up, the muscle temperature will return to normal which will decrease the benefits.
4. Any muscle tightness do some light stretching– While warming up and feeling some muscle tightness, make sure your stretch the tight area lightly. Performing a jog-stretch-jog combination when having muscle tightness issues can improve the flexibility of the muscles and connective tissues.
5. Psychological warm up– Warming up mentally is also very important, visualise yourself running fast or strong (depending on the distance or elevation), getting through the toughest sections of the course. Warming up your brain will help with the muscle and brain connection.
6. Quick high-intensity movements– At the end of the warm up add 1 minute of some high-intensity jumping or exercises to wake-up and boost the nervous system, coordination and efficiency.
7. Limit your warm up on a hot or humid day– When the weather is very hot and humid, make sure you warm up in the shade, and lower the intensity to avoid overheating and dehydration.
A good warm up will prepare your body, muscles, heart and mind for the race, warming up properly will increase your performance physically and mentally.
Basic Warm Up Routine– Perform each exercise 30-45 secs. After add a little jog and sprint.
Forward Lunge– Stand with your legs hip-width apart, engage your core, keep your upper body straight. Step forward with your right leg, lowering your upper body until both knees are bent 90 degrees. Make sure that your knee doesn’t extend beyond the tip of your right toe, return to the starting position and switch side.
Lateral Lunge– Starting position the same as the forward lunge, place your hands on your hips, and take a step to the side with your right leg. Keep your body straight and push your hip back. Your left leg should be straight and your right leg bent 90 degrees. Make sure that your knees point forward, not turn inward or outward. Return to the starting position and switch side.
Star Touch– Stand up straight with your feet wide apart, toes pointing forward. Keeping your legs straight, reach your right hand across your body and touch the toes of your left foot. Return to the starting position and switch side.
Standing Knee-to-Chest Stretch– Stand up straight wit your right foot slightly forward. Put your weight on your right leg and bring your left leg up and forward until you can grab your knee to chest with both hands. Return to the starting position and switch side.
Leg Swing– Stand up straight and shift your weight on your left leg. Engage your core for stability and swing your right leg forward and back. Switch side. Another version is the lateral swing. Same movement but from side to side.
Ankling– Lift off from your toes and raise your heels up and down while raising the arms forward, straight up and down.
High Knees– Quickly bring your knee up, alternating legs. Tap the knee with the hand on the same side.
Butt Kicks– Quickly kick one heel up to your but, alternating legs. Engage your core and keep the upper body straight, swing your warms in sync with the leg motion.
Train Hard, Eat Right, Feel Great!