It took me some time to figure out a good warm up routine, for running workouts and especially for races.
The only reason I make a distinction between the two is because for running workouts even after warming up you have the luxury to slowly pick up the pace, while in races most times you have to bring it fast when the gun goes off.
Warming up before a run is essential to adjust our bodies to the effort that is about to come, elevate our body temperature, increase blood flow, loosen up our muscles, and avoid injury.
I went running with a friend not long ago, and was surprised to see him off at a not so slow pace the minute we stepped out of the parking lot.
As much as I wish I could pull that off and save myself 15 minutes before every run, as well as the bore of walking and running slowly, I’ve learned better, the hard way. Pull a muscle once, strain your calf another time, lesson learned.
I actually had trouble finding good information online about warming up. Sure, there were articles with the whys, and general advice on how to do it, but no specifics, no examples I could work from.
After some trial and error, I’ve found what works for me.
Warm-up routine for regular runs:
* 5 minutes of walking, starting at a pace of 9:15 Min/KM (14:50 Min/Mile) and going up on increments up to 8:00 Min/KM (12:50 Min/Mile).
* 10 minutes of easy jogging, starting at a pace of 6:20 Min/KM (10:10 Min/Mile) and going up to 5:27 Min/KM (8:47 Min/Mile), in 2-3 minute increments.
I am always amazed at how hard running at that pace feels when my body and muscles are still cold, it reinforces that I should never skip warming up gradually.
It’s so important to find that perfect balance between enough warming up to be ready to go by start time, but not so much that we are wasting the energy that we’ll need during the race.
For shorter races – 5K/10K:
I start my warm up so I’ll be done 5 minutes before the race’s gun time, just enough time left to get in place and eat a gel.
The main goal when warming up for short races is to get to a place where we’ll be warm enough to comfortably run a pace that will be relatively fast for us, as soon as the race starts.
Even though it may feel like we are tiring our muscles running a few KMs/Miles before the race even starts, warming up effectively will do exactly the opposite, help us run at our fullest potential without getting that heavy feeling on our legs, cramping, or getting injured.
A good way to get there is to walk at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes, and then jog for 15 to 20 minutes. The first 10-15 minutes of the jog should be slow, even very slow, with the last 5 minutes getting gradually faster until almost race pace.
For longer races – Above 10K and up to a Half Marathon:
I start my warm up a bit earlier, to be done about 10 minutes before the race stars, so I can visit the restroom one last time, then get in place and eat a gel.
My warm up routine is to walk comfortably for 5 minutes and jog for another 10 minutes at an easy pace. By then our muscles should be warm and loose.
Then when the race starts I do the first KM at a pace that is between my warm up pace and actual race pace.
For a Marathon:
A light warm up will suffice to get some blood flowing, and saving most of our energy for the actual race. Walk for 5 minutes and jog lightly for another 5 minutes. When the race start, take the first couple of KMs (about 1.5 miles) to gradually increase your pace until you reach your goal race pace.
Or, you can forget everything I just wrote and do what she does:
I do not stretch before running, I think stretching is better and safer when our muscles are already warm.
Post run I stretch almost immediately, calves, hamstrings and quads. Always.
And I use the Grid 2.0 roller usually in the evening (I run in the morning), on my hips, quads, and calves.
How and for how long do you warm up?
Do you consider your warm out run as part of your run and total distance?