As part of our sponsorship of this year’s Ealing Half Marathon we are continuing with our series of post for all you runners out there, whatever your ability and whatever your distances.
In this article we are looking at what are probably the most neglected part of a runners training and, believe me, even if you just go out for a jog every now and again, you’re a runner in my opinion-just wanted to get that straight!
Personally I think the biggest mistake a lot of runners make is not warming up and cooling down properly during their training and this can cause injuries and result in poor running performance.
Jogging slowly to start with and then gradually picking up pace is not a running warm up and yet I know for a fact that this is exactly how some people “warm up” ; I hear this from a lot of my clients.
Using a proper, running specific warm up routine prepares your muscles and joints for what they are about to do, allowing you to be at your best in training and, of course, on race day.
Some time ago I produced this video highlighting a 4 min running warm up routine which you can do prior to go for a run and, as it is only 4 mins in length it really won’t take up any time at all!
Obviously this is just part of a bigger routine as running warm up drills can take as long as 20-25 mins but if I showed you the full drill you probably wouldn’t do it, right?
So, take a look at the video and bookmark it so you can refer to it every time you go for a run:
One of the main reasons for this specific warm up drill is that you want to get your muscles ready to replicate the movements they undertake during a run; you need a little bit of tension, or spring, in the muscle rather than relaxing it or stretching it out before you run. The stretching bit comes when you have finished your run………
Along with the correct warm up, the cooldown stretches are probably the most neglected area for a lot of runners; you get to the end of your training run and all you want to do is stop and jump in the shower, right? Wrong!
First of all, make sure you stop your run at least 3-4 mins before you get back home ( or wherever the end of your run happens to be) so that you can walk those last few minutes allowing your heart rate to come down slowly and your muscles to cool down.
At this point it’s time for your static stretches and you should focus on the following stretches at the very least :
So, from left to right we have Hamstrings, Quads and Calf stretches all of which should be held for 45-60secs each leg. Holding these stretches for anything less just doesn’t give your muscles enough time to get the full benefit so count to 60 slowly in your head and you shouldn’t feel too achy the next day and be ready to run again!
In conclusion, the warm up and cooldown stretches play a vital role in your training whatever distance you are working towards because, if you do both correctly and regularly, they will greatly reduce your chances of picking up a muscular injury which, of course, means you can run and train consistently.