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HTC Efficient Runner Blog 6, Warm-ups

Warm up

I’ve studied data from thousands of workouts during my coaching career. Triathletes can’t fool me. I know when they’ve done a good warm up simply by looing at the numbers. Warming up prepares your body to perform effectively. Let me convince you to make this part of your routine.

What is a warm up?

Quite simply your body reaches operating temperature. OK you know when you’re ready to start training because you will feel warm. Even if you were in singlet and shorts on a freezing day you would feel warm. You can’t get around this by wearing a fleece, woolly hat and gloves. It’s your muscles that matter. They have to reach a point where they are shedding heat because they are working and burning fuel.

Your heart is a super important muscle. It needs to get to it’s optimum heart rate. This is what I look for in the data. Most athletes find their heart rate gradually rises as they exercise. After 8-10 minutes it levels off and becomes steady. This is the point where you are ready to train effectively. Some people find their heart rate rises very rapidly then comes down to a steady level. This doesn’t change anything. 8 -10 minutes is the minimum even in young super fit athletes.

Efficient running is a whole-body activity. Let’s imagine you’ve been sitting at a desk all day. I know this is improbable. You’ve hardy moved a muscle all day. Now you set off for brisk exercise and are surprised you feel stiff. Maybe you get a niggle. Can you be surprised by this? Running, swimming or biking when you are stiff or imbalanced is not going to be efficient.

Warm up your muscle, fascia, and nervous system

Gently move your joints, muscle, tendons, fascia, and nervous system. You need to activate your system to prepare you to move. You are not stretching just moving. Stretching has been shown to inhibit your performance. This of this as waking up your body to ready it for action.

Warm up your mind?

Use the first 5 minutes of walking to make clear to yourself the purpose of this workout. Most of the time it will be a zone 2 aerobic endurance session. How long? Where are you going? What elements of technique will you focus on today? Sometimes it will be a recovery run to rehab and injury or loosen off after a race.

Focus on the present. This is your time to enjoy your own company. No need to think about work, family, friends or life. Concentrate on this workout ONLY.

Tune in to what you are experiencing. Start to go through the runner’s checklist I described in the last blog

Warm up you breathe and oxygen efficiency.

Have you notice how out of breath you get at the start of a race particularly when you swim. More than usual. Your warmup will provoke your body into breathing deeper. It will start to use oxygen to power your movement. This system is quick but still needs to wake up. A few strides towards the end of the warmup will make you breath more heavily.

Now start your training.

Your muscles, fascia, mind and breathing are ready to accomplish whatever your have planned in this training session. You will perform better. You will be less prone to injury. You will make a coach very happy.

Warm up for races

It is exactly the same warm up for races. Triathlons start with a swim. Rarely can you warm up in the water. This means you do your run warm up 20 minutes before you are due to leap into the lake. This will make the first part of your swim more efficient. It will also make you feel great when you observe all those competitors who think they will be able to race without warming up. Feel smug. Race well.

Dave Bradley

HTC Coach

BT Level 3 coach. Training Peaks level 2 coach


Our journey towards efficient running continues this week at Leeds Road Track. Everyone welcome. It’s free. Just come to trackside and introduce yourself. If you consider yourself a good, bad or indifferent runner we will help you discover your inner ‘beautiful runner’.

No session on Wednesday April 20th.




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