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The Five Key Warmup Essentials You Need to Remember Pre-Run

We chatted to George Morris, running enthusiast, exercise physiologist and international fencer about what pre run exercises you should be doing. Here's what we said.

I have always been fascinated by a work smarter, not harder, approach to improving running performance and staying injury free. What if I told you there was a way of hitting these goals relatively easily? Sounds good right? Well here I put forward a new take on an old concept to help you improve your running. 
Anecdotal evidence, from hearing conversations between runners, outlines a growing theme. Most of us simply do without a proper warmup before running routine Who can blame us? It is hard enough combatting the irresistible urge to simply pull up the duvet and swap the early a.m. miles for a mug of coffee, let alone tagging on a seemly ‘useless’ combination of gym exercises before lacing up. However, despite the general misconception that the pre-run warmup is just the first ‘easier’ mile of a run, or that a warmup saps precious energy (causing early fatigue), the warmup plays a key role in injury prevention and can enhance performance. But, what is the most time efficient and effective routine for minimising injury and elevating performance? 

Concept One: Raising our physiology and energy levels

The first principal of the warmup comes as no shock. It is all about raising our heart rate, breathing rate, muscle temperature and our psychological energy level. In fact, as runners we should be pretty good at this phase. By elevating the body’s physiological and psychological machinery we are increasing the efficiency of the key parameters underlining human endurance. A higher heart and breathing rate equals a faster delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. The elevated muscular temperature primes muscle tissues for action. Finally, a heightened psychological arousal level increases motivation and focus on the goals of the upcoming session. 

How do we achieve this? Simple, put five-to-ten minutes aside (individual preference) to complete a cardiovascular activity (e.g. jogging, skipping, static cycling) that starts at a 3/10 intensity, gradually progressing to a 5 or 6/10. 

Concept Two: Activation 

Now this is where most runners ditch their warmup routine. But, stick with me on this one. The plan here is to activate the muscles that are essential to a good running performance (typically the legs). Try performing light bodyweight exercises such as squats, reverse lunges and calf raises, two lots of ten repetitions or each exercise should suffice. By preparing key muscle groups for running we increase our efficiency going into the workout and reduce our chances of a musculoskeletal injury.

Concept Three: Mobilisation 

Now that our cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular systems are primed for action, it is time to look after our joints. Here it is all performing similar movement patterns to running. Also termed drills or running warmup exercises, I suggest two 10 m lengths of high knees, heel flicks and A-skips. 

Concept Four: Potentiation 

Time to really get yourself in the zone for a good session. Try thee-to-five 100 m strides (at or above 5 km race pace). The cherry on the top of a good warmup, this phase really allows you to dial into your zone for optimal training. 

runners striding

Concept Five: Fun

Always ensure you are having fun. Why else would we wake up early to train hard, when everyone else is enjoying a few more Z's? The warmup is designed for performance enhancement and injury prevention. How can we expect to have fun if we are sat on the side-lines watching? 

man smiling warming up
Here is my personal warmup routine, developed over years of sporting performances and training sessions:

  1. 10 minutes light aerobic activity, gradually increasing in intensity - typically jogging but, if I am doing a treadmill session I will switch this up for 10 minutes on the bike
  2. 3 x 10 repetitions body weight squat; 3 x 10 repetitions reverse lunge; 2 x 10 m inchworms; 2 x 10 m tip toe walks
  3. 2 - 3 x 10 m high knee sprint; heel flicks; A-skips/B-skips
  4. 3 - 5 x 100 m strides  
Give this a try and let us know how you get on!



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