Warming up is possibly one of the simplest parts of learning to run, but can be well over looked by first time runners.  Common thought among many first time runners, “I don’t want to waste any energy.”  Fact of the matter is the body needs to be warmed up before performing at it’s peak.  The intensity of the warm-up will change depending on the intensity of your session.

What is the purpose of Warming?

Warming up prepares the body for work.  The body works most efficiently when the heart rate is safely elevated, breathing is heavier, and blood is flowing through the muscles of the body.  This state of readiness is not attained directly out of the car or by rolling out of the bed.  A proper warm-up will include some form of light cardiovascular activity and/or stretching or exaggerated body movements (which is another blog in itself.)  Without a proper warm-up studies show the body has an increased likelihood of injury.  A runner may also be able to work through a slight injury by warming the body up properly before activity.

How do I gauge the intensity of a warm-up?

As stated in an earlier post, it’s extremely important to learn how your body responds to certain activities. The intensity of a warm-up will depend on the intensity of the training session.  Slow running sessions may not need as intense of a warm-up as a speed session or a hill session.  During a long slow session, the body has time to safely adjust to it’s ready state.  In the case of speed sessions or hill sessions, the body needs more preparation before performing.  Hill and speed sessions start out at an intense level of movement requiring the muscles to be warm and “loose.”  (This science  applies everywhere. Increased temperatures increases fluidity/decreases viscosity.)

Warming up serves us well. There is a choice. Make time to warm-up, or take time off to heal. Warming up would be the preferable choice.  Espeically if you have a deadline or race date.  If you’re planning on using your body, you might as well keep up the maintenance.

Sample Warm-Up:

1/4 Mile easy run

Dynamic Stretch Routine (i.e. high knees, butt-kickers, lunges, etc)

1/2 Mile (slightly faster pace)

Dynamic Stretch Routine

1/4 Mile  Steadily increasing tempo to race (or session) pace