Let’s face it, how many of us go through a 20 minute warm up with drills before they head out on their mid-week run? Not many, that’s the exact figure. Whilst we all have the best intentions, the simple fact is that if we get up before work to run, that’s an achievement in itself (good job) but our goal is the run. I’m not looking to achieve the athlete lifestyle but the slightly faster 5k or the extra mileage or the fact I can tell my co-workers at the coffee machine I went for a run whilst they were lying in bed still (secretly thinking I’m a better person than you for it too)!
As winter has well and truly arrived, I wimped out of a run in -2 degrees just last week, the importance of warming up is ever greater BUT I am going to share something different with you from the usual stuff you read on the internet! Take a moment to realise that I still IMPLORE you to perform a 20 minute warm up including drills, this is undoubtedly the best way to prepare to run, improve performance and reduce the chance of injury. I know you won’t so I want to offer you these tips. 1. It’s likely you are snuggled up in bed before one of your winter runs, perhaps even with a loved one. Whilst you are under the duvet (a nice 10+ tog one I hope) try to wrap your legs up in the duvet. This way you’ll achieve some form of a ‘warm-up’, albeit it environmental and external but these conditions still help prepare you to run, as you lie there try to encourage your calves to wake up by pulling your toes up to your shins and back down. 2. Alternatively, if it’s an evening winter run and you’re driving back from work pop the heaters on for a short time on your legs to do they same as point one. Please do start stretching your calves whilst you’re driving though! 3. One of the most difficult things for your body to get used to is the cold air going into your lungs, particularly the sudden change from hot air to cold air. Before you begin your run, try to take a few breathes in the cold air, gradually getting deeper to allow your lungs some opportunity to acclimatise. If possible do this whilst walking! 4. This one is the one which makes the biggest difference. Start your run slowly and aim to build your speed over your first 1.5km. Resist the temptation to sprint off and instead increase your cadence and run with the aim of comfort rather than speed or even ‘determination’. This will help your body acclimatise, reduce the rate of perceived exertion (how hard it is) and actually help you later on in your run to feel fresh! 5. Our final recommendation is all about visibility. I can’t emphasise this enough, a high visibility vest and lights are easy to get a hold these days so pop them on when you’re out running. These tips don’t really delay your running efforts but WILL make your run a little more enjoyable so give them a try and let us know how you get on! Train Hard! Arj Thiruchelvam @performance_physique.