I've learnt the hard way out that a light jog before my run is not a complete warm up! And the years I thought it was - I was just being plain lazy and not listening to the wise ones - including my own body!
If running a slow 2k was enough for a warm up to stay injury free, why are there so many runners getting injured despite following their scientific plans!
My warm ups were like that too - a slow jog and then straight away into my run! But in the morning our hip flexors, calves and hamstrings all are tight! And here we are standing on the road as early as 5 am to make our body run to make powerful strides. Hence the warm up of 10-15 mins of jog is not enough to wake up those muscles that have serious work to do. A complete warm up, apart from getting the sleepy muscles ready for a solid run, speeding oxygen throughout the body, should work on opening and stretching the hip flexors that ultimately give our legs the range of motion needed to make efficient running strides.
After a 1.5-2 km jog, I quickly do these dynamic stretches to stretch my hip flexors:
Dynamic stretches are stretches that involve motion and not holding of stretches. So none of the following need to held for any period of time! Just stay in motion.
Butt Kicks and High knees – 10 reps on each side. Do five butt kicks, then do five high-knee steps. Repeat. Remember the idea is to stretch the glutes and quads.
Forward lunge: Remember to engage your core and keep you upper body straight and then go as down as possible. Repeat on the other side. 5 lunges on each leg is good. I always do slightly deeper lunges (my body has gotten used to these). But do remember this is dynamic stretching and you aren't supposed to hold the stretch. So keep moving!
Lateral lunge (side lunge): Remember to keep your upper body straight and push your hips back. Make sure that your knee points forward and is not turned inward or to the outside. Repeat on the other side. Remember 5 lunges on each leg!
Side stretches and basic calf streches
So you worked forward, sidewards, backwards warming up the muscles. the butt kicks and high knees increased your body temperature and heart rate! But how do you know that you are properly warmed up? - usually for me, as soon as I start sweating is when I know am good to start my run. However this does have a lot to do with the weather of the day.
I ALSO try to remember to :
- Not waste time between the end of a warm and the start of the running drill. I have got to stay warmed up for your run.
- Never start my warm up routine with jumps etc…start with a light jog always and then move on to dynamic stretches.
- That the warm up should never be so intense that it tires me out even before the run
- To do a longer warm up - if am running a fast 5k (basically a more intense warm up - that has more reps of the high knees an butt kicks
You know your physical condition - best! You know best what are your weather conditions and what length of warm up suits you.
All we are trying to do is to shake the body out of the long night slumber! Waking up every inactive muscle, loosening, opening, rotating and mentally preparing ourselves to get set and go..RUN!
Post-run, don't forget to run planned number of kms for your cool down. And a blog on post-run cool down coming up soon!
Happy Warming Up to a Happy Run!
Post Run Stretches - For the time-crunched Runner
Post-Run Recovery - What's that all about