Warming up before a run is essential. As the name implies, a warm-up increases your body temperature so your muscles can perform more efficiently. Runners who take their warm-ups seriously reduce their risk of injury and set themselves up for success.
Whether you're new to the sport, or an experienced runner who wants a refresher, consider these tips for warming up before a run.
If you consider the range of movement between sitting and running, a light-paced walk probably falls somewhere in the middle. Walking for a few minutes before running is essential to reduce risk of injury, according to Runner's World magazine. Walking before prepares your body by using many of the same muscles and joints. Plus, it uses the same range of motion, only at a slower pace.
As you walk, your heart rate will begin to increase and your heart will pump more blood to your muscles. This process prepares your body for a run the same way you would heat up your car before an early morning winter drive. Rather than throwing your muscles into a high gear, walking warms them up gradually.
On its own, walking has a number of health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you maintain a healthy body weight, prevent heart disease and improve balance and coordination. If you're new to running, start each session with about 10 minutes of walking, gradually picking up the pace as you warm up. More experienced runners should try to walk for three to four minutes before gaining speed.
To further charge your muscles for running, Runner's World recommends using stride bursts to bring even more blood into your muscles. Essentially, you would transition from a walking pace to a jogging pace for a length of 100 meters, then slow back to a walking pace for the next 100 meters. Repeat that about five times, then continue with your run.
Add a stretching routine
Stretching is an essential part of any intense physical activity. Not only does stretching reduce the risk of injury, it helps improve your balance and stability. Dynamic stretching is always preferable to static stretching prior to running. A static stretch is when you extend a limb to a stretched position and hold it there for 30 seconds or more. Though static stretching can be useful for building range of motion, it's not ideal for a warm-up routine. Holding a stretch for a long period of time will cause your heart rate to drop back to a resting level and reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to your muscles.
Dynamic stretching keeps your heart rate up, thus allowing your muscles to stay warm. Energetic stretches such as calf raises, squats and lunges are perfect for a pre-run workout, according to Fitness magazine.
If you also practice yoga, many poses can help runners warm-up and gain flexibility at the same time. Poses that heat up your legs and core will get your blood flowing. For example, high and low lunges with core twists are good options to consider.
Don't forget about food
Your pre-run meal is just as important as your warm-up routine. You don't want to eat anything that will make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, but you don't want to run on an empty stomach either.
VeryWell recommends eating a light meal high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. The carbs will provide the fuel your body needs to maintain a running pace. Some good pre-workout foods include bananas, energy bars, peanut butter on toast and oatmeal with fruit. Ideally, you should eat a light meal an hour or two before running to give your stomach time to settle. Try to drink at least eight ounces of water with your meal.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to warm-up before a run, consider training for a marathon. The Queen City Marathon in Regina is scheduled for September 7-9. Visit runqcm.com today to learn more.