Dynamic running warm-up: the runner ritual

Dynamic running warm-up: the runner ritual

In the fundamentals of running advice, there is the dynamic running warm-up. Whether it is a warm-up before a race, a warm-up before a split training session or simply at the start of a jog... Each outing needs its own progressive warm-up period to be effective. Warm-up is a runner's ritual to be scrupulously reproduced at the beginning of each training session and race to ensure that it goes well.
Role of the warm-up? How to do a good warm-up before a race step by step? In short, at the end of this article you will have the keys to warm up for each run outing!

What is the role of warm-up in running?

At rest, our body puts all its senses in slow motion. Our body is constantly looking for energy savings. If we don't move, we spend very little energy. The purpose of the warm-up is to gradually prepare the body for a more intense effort. The direct effect of heating is to trigger certain body mechanisms:

Increased body temperature

At rest our body temperature is around 37 degrees. When we activate, the internal processes of energy creation will create heat and raise our temperature slightly, around 38 degrees. This increase in temperature allows chemical reactions in energy production to be more efficient. When you start sweating, it's a sign that the body is producing more heat than it needs to function. We are therefore generally in optimal condition.

Increase in oxygen volume (VO2)

The main energy creation system we use in running is the aerobic system. The energy created then depends directly on the oxygen we bring to the muscles through breathing. At rest, about 3.5 ml/min/kg is required. This is a tiny part of our maximum respiratory capacity (VO2Max) which is between 30 ml/min/kg (sedentary person) and 90 ml/min/kg (best athletes in the world).
With effort our VO2 will increase to support the effort required. This increase is not instantaneous after a rest period. The heating will be used to gradually increase the VO2. The VO2 immediately usable during a sustained effort will then be higher than that without heating. This is essential for events where we will reach a high percentage of our VO2 Max (5km, 10km) and obviously split. The more we can use the aerobic system, the less we will have to use the anaerobic system which has side effects that disrupt final performance.

Muscle / neuromuscular activation

This is the part you feel most. If you were asked to move from the sofa to your 5km speed without transition, you could probably do it, but it would seem awfully difficult and unpleasant. When cold, the muscles are weaker, slower to act. The warm-up will increase the speed of the nerve transmissions that control muscle contractions. At the same time, muscle flexibility will gradually increase. This will allow us to use the elasticity of our muscle / tendon / joint system and move forward more economically.

Warm-up in running in practice

The above points could be summarized in one sentence: Warm-up is the fact of preparing your body as much as possible for the effort that comes with the least amount of fatigue possible. Because that's the whole point, we don't want to use our "energy bar" before the race or the training itself. We want to save our energy while putting the body in the conditions as close as possible to the effort we are going to make. Each beginning of training should therefore be similar. 
Running warm-up - Part 1: 10 at 30′ jogging
To gradually warm up the body there are not thirty-six methods, you just have to start slowly. Very gently even. The first kilometre should be well below your basic endurance level. I usually start at least 30″ / km slower my jogging pace. The rest of the warm-up will gradually lead you to this one.

The duration of the warm-up is variable because it depends on external factors. For example, "heating" the body takes much longer when it is -5 than when it is +25. We know that when it is hot, the higher our body temperature rises, the poorer the performance. It is therefore important to avoid getting hot by limiting the heating time to a minimum. The type of effort that will follow can also dictate the procedure to be followed (see below: warm-up before a race).
Running warm-up: Part 2 : Dynamic ranges
Ranges / educational to energize the legs and prepare them for the future! For years I have had this ritual of starting each session with 2 or 3 sets of scales. Buttock heels / Knee lifts / Stretched legs / Skip / Not hunted / Running back... There are plenty of exercises. No need to do them all at each training, I put them in my order of preference / utility. Over 20 to 30m by concentrating to use the rebound qualities of the foot. We want to be "active on the ground" feel that the movement is dynamic. It's also an excellent job to improve your stride!
Running warm-up: Part 3: Straight lines
To perfect your warm-up, nothing beats a few straight lines (about 100m). The first run at a very progressive pace, without forcing. Then you can continue to make straight lines under progressive acceleration without worrying about the time. Option 2 for those who want to set up, you can do 100m at the target pace of your training. It allows you to soak up the look and be immediately in it when the session or race begins.

Warm-up before a race: Differences!

The warm-up before a marathon is 10′ it's a maximum, every minute run uses the necessary glycogen stock to go as far as possible before the "wall"! You can even easily zap it and start slower in the first few kilometers with a warm-up guide. On the other hand, on a 5 or 10km, it's the opposite. No problem with glycogen stocks, so you want to be sure you have warmed up the machine properly. Jogging, ranges, straight lines, you need the whole thing to get to the top at the start!
And if you're stuck in a starting airlock... You can always warm up with static-dynamic exercises for the muscular activation aspect. Half squats for the thighs and buttocks, toes for the calves... In this case we do what we can!
Be careful of the timing of your warm-up!
Timing is essential to have a really effective warm-up. We want to start the effort both warmed up and sufficiently rested from the exercises practiced during the warm-up. Knowing that the body takes about 15′ to cool significantly, that VO2 takes less than 10′ to return to its resting state, this leaves little room for it. If you have calculated your case correctly, the last 5 minutes before the race should be a return to calm.

Should we warm up for a run?

Yes and no! No need to do everything I explain above (even if scales and straight lines during a jog do not hurt if you want to do some!). Only part 1 and the fact of starting very gradually is to be respected every time. Especially if you are coming out of a totally passive activity or worse than you do a fasting jog when you wake up.
In this case, the muscular awakening must be even more progressive. I generally walk a few hundred meters before starting my jogging. If I feel tense, I do scales without the dynamic aspect. Make the gesture of the knee or buttock rise, slowly without ever forcing for example.

Disclaimer: warm-up in scientific studies

While there are many scientific studies on this subject to know if warming improves performance. Even if they are sometimes contradictory with each other depending on the protocols used, the type of warm-up or the conditions... The trend is towards yes. The information on the warm-up I gave you is the one that comes up most often in the studies.

The warm-up techniques are the ones I have been using on a daily basis for years and that many coaches apply with their athletes. They have either given positive results in the studies or no effects, but very rarely negative effects. For my part, I have tried many things and it is with the type of warm-up I give here that I feel in better shape at the beginning of a race or training session.

Less injury with a good warm-up?

And if you're trying to find out if warming up reduces the risk of injury... It's a bit the same story... Not all scientific studies agree... The trend is yes too but it's difficult to really statistically prove to be able to follow a lot of people over a long period of time. And even then, the injury factors are so numerous... It is more the experience of coaches and athletes that pushes towards the interest of warm-up before intense training or running.
No, I didn't mention the stretching in the warm-up.
Stretching is much more debatable than warming up itself. For a long time, coaches have devoted a cult to passive stretching before training or competition. Without providing clear evidence from studies have shown that there is not necessarily any interest in passive stretching before a race.
For my part, I haven't done passive stretching for years and I don't hurt myself. From my point of view, dynamic stretches, scales will have a much more interesting effect in preparing the following effort than passive stretches. In fact, I do passive stretching but outside of the sessions. I rather reserve them for stretching sessions after a simple jog in fundamental endurance.
There you go, I've been through the running warm-up. I hope this article has helped you to better understand this subject. If you liked it, check out the other 100 running advice articles I have for you here!

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