I don’t want to waste energy. I’m really late and the gun is JUST about to go off. I don’t really need to. I’m just plain lazy.
All reasons, ahem excuses, that people give for not wanting to do a warm-up. The energy wasting one is something that I’m sure even the most seasoned vet is guilty of when they first started out, I knew I fell for that one in my first few meets. Or I guess back then I was probably also just lazy too. Though this is one of the biggest fallacies even though common sense might lead you to plead a case for it.
Physiologically your body CAN’T perform at its best going from 0 to 60 the second the gun goes off. Sadly we are not a high performance sports car that all the macho guys drive, peel out, and feel like ‘the man.’ Rather, our muscles burn glucose (energy) most efficiently if you gradually work into that faster pace. Not only will you be running faster if you’ve warmed up but it will actually feel easier too. [the same rules apply for the actual race, and that's why it's smarter to run negative splits; go out at one pace and pick up the pace as the race progresses, make that closing mile/lap your fastest]
What constitutes a good warm-up? Well, that is different for everyone and it’s a matter of finding one that fits with you. Still, there are some general ingredients to add to this recipe; I’ll just put out what worked for me when I was racing. Another couple of things; the other major benefit of having a warm-up routine set out is once you find the perfect recipe for YOU, stick to it. Keeping the same routine helps eliminate variables for the race but it also helps mentally.
The routine helps keep some of those nerves at bay. For me, the day before and of a race I’d try to limit thinking about the race too much to avoid getting overly nervous. But once I started my warm-up that’s when I started to really focus again. During my warm-up I’d mentally run through my race plan, think about staying relaxed, calm, and remembering what I wanted to accomplish for the race.
The routine, my body knew it and could go through it on auto-pilot, it was known, familiar, and that was reassuring. It also allowed my mind to focus on the race at hand. Another reason why I was able to run through it all on auto-pilot is I did basically the same thing before hard workouts. Just as with other aspects of training, come race day you want to limit any variables. So practice what you’ll be doing come the actual day.
Finally, with timing, I usually liked to start 50-45 minutes before I had to get to the line. I’m also really anal, and would rather err on the side of being early to the line rather than feeling rushed or heaven forbid not make it!
Here is a little sample or rough guideline to get you started:
* 2 miles easy: Keep this easy and you want to actually be overly warm if anything; that’s why even in hot conditions you’ll see people layered up in sweats. You want those muscles as warm as possible before you strip down to that singlet. People vary how long they run, but you want it to be at least 10 minutes.
* Drills and stretching: After the running I’d do some static stretches then move into a set routine of drills (think quick feet, A skips, butt kickers) to get my feet moving fast and work on turnover. I’d then do dynamic stretches, mostly leg swings. Keep the sweat on and I liked to keep moving around.
* Strides: After drills I’d then do 4-6 strides, 60-100 meters long. The last few I’d do faster than race pace, staying controlled and keeping good form.
* Stripping down and spiking up: Time to take off the sweats, I’d usually be so hot by this point I couldn’t wait to get rid of all the sweats. Then change into the shoes I’d be racing in.
* Head to the line and last strides: Then time to get to the line, I’d usually do one or two last short strides and then time to go!
I know that cross country season is well underway, so good luck to all those racing! I also know there are tons of people signing up and training for road races; for some it are their first races and I thought about posting this because I had been hearing from some that they didn’t even know what a warm-up was, so I hope this can help them out and do their best come the big day.
1) Do you do a warm-up routine before your races or hard workouts? If so, what?
2) Name one reason people may not want to warm-up?
The first time I went to a junior high meet (mind you I didn’t train at all before, that was an ugly 400…haha) my mom suggested it but I thought she was insane. I also didn’t want to look like a weirdo being the only kid running around before the actual race. Gotta love self-consciousness and peer pressure.
3) Happy Wednesday, what was your workout?
11 mile run outside and core, I’m slowly feeling better going sans tready…yay.