One of the steps to improving as a runner is incorporating speed or races into your training plan. Before you can just start running faster, you must make sure that you are prepared to run fast with as little chance for injury as possible.
One way to reduce injury risk is to keep only a small amount of your weekly running done at a fast pace and the other is the topic of this episode: how and when should you warm up.
Warming up is useful to establish a routine before training or racing hard. It also increases blood flow to the needed muscles. It is incredibly useful in getting the coordinated movements of running working correctly before you push yourself. The nerve network should be smooth and firing in sync if you plan on getting positive results from a race or workout.
Warming up should be done before essentially every hard effort. The easier the effort, the shorter the warmup can be. At steady state effort, I simply like to run my first mile slower, and then drop into my goal pace for the workout. This is also why a huge warmup is not that important for most people before a marathon.
A few options that you can add into a warm up routine include easy running, strides, drills, and dynamic stretching. Start with some slow and gentle running to loosen up your muscle and start increasing blood flow to your major running muscles. Continue onto drills and dynamic stretching including a variety of skips, butt kicks, marching. Angie enjoys a flowing yoga stretching routine that is rooted in a sun salutation to stretch the entire body. One more aspect that is useful, especially before significantly faster workout are strides. These efforts are best performed with an acceleration for 3-5 seconds up to near top speed, holding that speed for about 10 seconds, and then slowing down for 3-5 seconds.
Try some different options and orders to develop a warm up routine that works best for you. Personally, I run for 10 minutes, perform strides, a little gentle stretching and leg swings, skips, and then a few relaxed strides as I try to stay calm and loose.
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