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What Should Your Warm-Ups Look Like? (No, we are not talking about the pants.)
June 16, 2015

What Your Warm-Ups Should Look Like

Ok, so running is a pretty simple sport. You find a pair of running shoes, lace them up and run.

That's all good but if you are training for a race your running session should have a little more structure to it then just a "run".

The 3 components of any training sequence is pretty basic:

1. Warm-up

2. Workout

3. Cool-down

However so many runners fail to stick to such a routine. Does it really matter?

Yes, if you want to be a successful runner, treat your body respectfully so as to last you many more miles, and become an all-round better athlete you will adhere to the 3 part workout routine.

Today, I wanted to focus on the warm-up though. The warm-up can set the tone for your workout and increase your performance which is why it is good to make it a routine part of your runs.

Did you know that there are two parts to your workouts? Yep, a general and specific phase.

The General Warm-Up

The general warm up phase is used to reap all of the obvious benefits that come with warming-up. Basically, we want to get that blood pumping and our muscles nice and warm and ready to move while increasing our heart rate and blood pressure at a progressive pace! What we do not want to do is to reduce our energy reserves and cause fatigue. This should be energizing not energy zapping!

This general warm-up phase should last anywhere from 5-10 minutes and should consist of repetitive, low intensity movements. Walking, light jogging, slow jumping jacks, are all examples of repetitive movements. The idea is to just move and since we will be using our legs we want to do something that is sport-specific and will increase blood flow to our lower extremities.

NOTE: Keep this phase to 10 minutes or less as the beneficial effects will begin to plateau any longer than this.

A lot of runners just like to keep their general warm-ups to a light jog. If you are looking for something different here are a few ideas:


Jumping Jacks

Slow Jump Rope


High Knee Lifts

The Specific Warm-Up

The specific warm up consists of doing movements that are, like the name suggests, specific to running. The most obvious is to keep with a light jog but here is where you may feel the urge to include some stretching. However be warned. You only want to participate in dynamic stretching!


Static vs. Dynamic Stretching

At almost all running races of any distance, one can see the stereotypical runner statically stretching their hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, abs, arms, basically anything that they can get their hands on to stretch. Do not be that stereotypical runner!

What do we mean by “static” stretching? Static deals with anything that does not require movement so standing still, sitting or lying still while stretching would be considered static stretching. Dynamic means to be moving, and so dynamic stretches include movement.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association, along with countless other research journals state that static stretching, before partaking in an endurance run (or any exercise for that matter) is not effective and can in fact be detrimental to performance. Their stance: “Static stretching has also been shown to lead to a decrease in force production, power performance, running speed, reaction and movement time, and strength endurance.”

The good news is that dynamic stretching does not elicit the same effects as static stretching and in fact has been shown to increase running performance.

To maximize the effects you should include about 8-12 minutes of dynamic stretching and save the static stretching for after your run when you are trying to cool down.

Remember you do not have to include dynamic stretching into your warm up. You might just want to jog slowly for the specific phase. Here are some ideas though for when you want to mix things up a bit.

Toe touches

Arm Circles

Butt Kicks

Walking Lunges

So, re-evaluate your runs. Do you include a warm-up? If not, then why not? Time? Will power? If you do already warm-up, are you warming-up properly? Are you sticking to sport specific moves? If so, good for you, you are an all-round better athlete for it.

Let's Break for a Running Laugh


Running News

The FDA has given the food industry 3 years to eliminate all trans fats from foods. Now that's a step in the right direction to decreasing obesity in the USA!

Worried about running marathons and your heart health? this article suggests that if you are an endurance runner then just keep on being an endurance runner. The research is so flippant and there is no conclusive evidence that any heart damage is incurred.

On the other hand why do seemingly fit athletes die during activity ? All though some cases are unsolved the most likely reason is due to congenital heart defects that were never caught or seen until after death has occurred. This is especially true of younger athletes. If you are worried about this happening to you, go get tested and see if you have any unknown defects.

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