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Why do I need to warm up before a run?

run warm up head

Sudden and powerful movements such as sprints heavily stimulate muscles, but to efficiently process these stimuli, your muscles must first be prepared for them and the stress that comes with these bursts of high intensity exercise. But what is behind warming up and how do you know when you are actually warm?

How do I warm up?

Before fast runs and running workouts, it is important to get muscles ready by going for an easy jog for around 15 minutes. A few jumping jacks will also get the rest of your muscles ready for training. Both should be done at a slow pace, not at the speed you would run a workout. This will not only help to mentally prepare for the challenge ahead, but will also cause your body temperature to rise, and your muscles will be supplied with up to four times more nutrients and oxygen than normal. Ligaments and tendons become more elastic and the nervous system is activated, which makes the interaction between your muscle apparatus smoother and more effective. This is optimal preparation for running training.

How do I stay warm during breaks?

The pauses in your workouts are there to give you time to recover. During fast workouts, it's fine to stand still, walk, jog or sit briefly. It's important to remember however, that when the temperature drops, it's better to keep moving than to let your body temperature drop.

Running during the breaks in moderate workouts is also fine, but this should be done at a much slower pace than the intervals. If you're just starting out running, try to always walk during the breaks. This is because your tendons, fasciae and ligaments are probably not yet used to the strain of running. Walking during the breaks will help stop your body being overburdened, which can also help to prevent injury. A brisk walk is best, as this keeps the heart rate up, but it's also important to conserve energy before longer periods of exertion.

Let's recap:

As running uses almost 70% of the muscles in the body, it is important to make sure you're ready for periods of high exertion. This is especially true for beginners, whose muscles are not yet used to the high intensity of training. Warming up properly will help reduce the soreness of muscles after training and increase flexibility and mobility, meaning that you can run harder, further and faster.