How to Warm Up for a Run

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Although you might want to immediately take off on your run to get in some serious mileage, you’ll perform better during your workout and lower your risk of injury if you take the time to properly warm up. A warm-up gets your heart, lungs, muscles and nervous system ready for vigorous activity. The warm-up for your run should be dynamic, meaning it should involve movement rather than static stretches.

How to Warm Up for a Run
(Kayla Dexter/Demand Media)

A dynamic warm-up consists of two separate components: a general warm-up, followed by specific dynamic exercises. A general warm-up is meant to get your blood flowing, increase body temperature, speed up your breathing rate and wake up your nervous system. The specific dynamic exercise component features exercises that closely mimic the movements of running, as well as the intensity your body will be working while you’re running. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete a full dynamic warm-up.

Kayla Dexter/Demand Media

The general warm-up component lasts about 10 minutes. It should begin at a low intensity and then progressively increase in difficulty as your body warms. Position two cones so they are 25 yards apart. Begin by walking back and forth between the two cones for three minutes. Walking is a gentle way to wake your body from rest mode. Pick up your speed and perform jogs and backward jogs for five minutes. Next, perform one minute of lateral shuffles and one minute of skipping back and forth between the cones.

Kayla Dexter/Demand Media

The specific dynamic component of the warm-up not only features exercises that mimic the movement of running, but it’s designed to build up to the intensity you’ll have to maintain during your run. Perform two sets each of walking lunges and backward lunges between the 25-yard cones. Add in two sets each of high knees, trying to explode up as high as possible with each rep, and butt kicks, emphasizing flexing your knees to bring your heels to your glutes with each step. For the final three minutes, perform 100-yard strides by starting at a jog and progressively increase your speed until you’re running at 75 percent of your maximum speed.

Kayla Dexter/Demand Media

You shouldn’t do any static stretches before your runs. Static stretches, such as a seated hamstring stretch and standing quad stretch, involve getting into a position where your muscle is elongated and holding that stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. While static stretches are effective at improving flexibility, they’ll adversely affect your performance when done before a run because they decrease the activity in your neuromuscular system. Static stretches after your run, however, will help prevent muscular tightness and help with recovery time.

Kayla Dexter/Demand Media

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