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Workout Wednesdays: Before the Workout

Posted Sep 25 2013 11:26am

Workout Wednesdays usually feature a fabulous running workout for you to try on for size. But this week, I’d like to put the spotlight on what happens BEFORE the workout.

Preparation is key.

Preparation is key.
(Image courtesy of Steve Moore & gocomics.com)

So what’s the big deal with a warm-up? Well, it’s actually fairly straightforward, even if people want to ignore/argue with me about it.

In the very simplest terms, a warm-up has less to do with 3 things:

  1. Accessing energy
  2. Getting blood to the muscles
  3. Increasing the amount of oxygen in your body

At rest, your body’s main job is to keep your vital organs going. Yeah, blood and stuff goes to your muscles, but not nearly the amount needed to jump up and run a marathon at a moment’s notice.

Your heart, your lungs, your muscles, and your energy systems are basically asleep.

clipart heart 4

So what happens if you don’t warm up? Basically, you run out of gas cuz you opened the tank too wide in the beginning. No gas = muscles fail = THE WALL. Your body goes into high gear way to fast, uses way too much energy to get you going, and you bonk.

–Runner’s Bonk verb \ˈbäŋk, ˈbȯŋk\ To hit a wall; a sudden fatigue or loss of energy.

I love this movie. (Image courtesy of Entertainment Cinema, New Line Films, & Warner Bros.)

I love this movie.
(Image courtesy of Entertainment Cinema, New Line Films, & Warner Bros.)

In order to access all your energy stores, and to keep accessing them throughout the longer miles, you MUST warm up. Go easy for at least 10 minutes, if not 2 full miles. After your warm-up you can do your dynamic drills and strides and what-not, but you NEED to be warm to get the most out of your drills.

A solid warm-up also allows your lungs to catch up and increase the amount of oxygen in your blood and your muscles get enough fuel and oxygen to function at a higher capacity.

Without a warm-up, your body will be playing catch up for your entire workout. That doesn’t put you in a position to do your best work, obviously. For a marathon, the first 2 miles can serve as your warm-up, unless you’re an elite or sub-elite runner. In that case, your warm-up happens before the race.

Kara warms up. She's kind of a big deal. (Image courtesy of Raymond Britt & runtri.com)

Kara warms up. She’s kind of a big deal. (Image courtesy of Raymond Britt & runtri.com)

Don’t believe me? Stand at the start line of a marathon and watch the elites go out for some strides. They’re already sweating by the time they get to the line. They warm up.

Take this pledge with me:

“I (state/write your name) do solemnly swear to warm-up before every run, no matter the distance.”

Now go out and run!


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