Running involves sacrifices. We sacrifice time with our family and friends, sleep, fun nights out, and sometimes even a fun night in after a hard day at work…all because we need to get in our miles.
So when we step out the door to start our run, of course we just want to start running!
But this rush to get it going can mean the difference between a great long run and a soul crushing, painful long run…and it could spell disaster in the form of an injury.
Most runners want to get faster and avoid injury. This is where we really have to weigh up how best to spend the time we have for running. Faced with a choice of either A: Run for 10 minutes longer or B: Do a 10 minute warm-up. Which would you choose?
I’d put money on A!
A pre-run warm up does take a few of those precious minutes but if it means the difference between a good run and a bad run, and the ability to stay injury free, isn’t it worth it?
You say, “Ok, but I do a nice slow warm up jog before I really get going.” For most runners, this slow paced first mile is thought to be enough to prepare the body for what it is about to endure, and some runners seem to get by on just this, but whether they are forsaking some of their true potential is another question. The point is, given that 30- 70% of runners (depending on the source) get injured every year, maybe you shouldn’t put too much faith in what the masses do?
Think about this question posed by RunningCompetitor.com,
If I asked you to at this moment to perform two thousand hops for me, you would probably question whether your legs are up to the task. And yet, running is essentially that – an extended series of hopping from one leg to the other whilst trying to minimise ground contact time (with some help from gravity, depending on the efficiency of your running form), dealing with forces of around 2.5 times your body weight each time your foot hits the ground. An easy mile at a 12-minute pace involves approximately 1,951 steps (hops), compared to 1,064 for a 6-minute-mile (Boise State University). Are you still happy to leave your house and go straight into an easy mile warm up?
For a distance runner, there is no doubt that improving your aerobic capacity is crucial. The more oxygen your muscles are able to utilise as you run, the more energy you will have and the faster you will be able to run over that distance.
However, the aerobic system is only one of two factors involved in developing running performance. The other is neuromuscular fitness, the ability of your brain to communicate and activate muscles while you are running.
Traditional training focuses on developing the efficiency of the heart, lungs, and muscles, but it is your brain that controls all of these. Your running form, efficiency, economy, power, stride length, stride frequency and ultimately your ability to combat fatigue are all neuromuscular in nature. And none of them will be developed just by focusing on aerobic fitness.
Maybe most important, it is likely that poor form, efficiency, economy and fatigue are major factors in injury. So instead of thinking of your warm up as time wasted “not running”, think of your warm up as an opportunity to “switch your brain on” and to “wake up” the communication between your brain and muscles in preparation for a safe run. A chance to practice movement patterns that promote a more efficient running form which can delay the fatigue and pain that has been holding you back and opening you up to injuries!
If you go straight into an easy paced mile as a warm-up, you run the risk of launching into 1,951 poorly performed slow hops, perfect preparation for 1,200 to 1,500 poorly performed faster hops every mile once you dial up the pace.
All this to say that this weekend, we are still doing our leg swings and hip hurdles, but we are also adding a few more key moves to wake up our muscles AND our brain. We’re going to turn on the communication between our systems that will allow us to run more efficiently and safer for the long road ahead of us.
Sounds good right? 🙂 Here we go!
Day 28: Long Run
- Lunge Matrix
- Leg Swings
- Hip Hurdles
- Long run
- Wall Sit (:60)
- Legs up the wall (5-15 minutes)
- 7 Key Stretches for Runners
The “Lunge Matrix” involves a variety of stimulating moves that require concentration, which is key to stimulating the brain. This means working muscles in all three planes of movement – forwards & backwards (sagittal plane), sideways (frontal plane) and rotational (transverse plane). The Lunge Matrix does this. Since it is the first thing you are going to do before anything else, it is important that you start with small dip “baby” lunges until you feel the body beginning to warm-up. Once you do feel warmer and the knees are ready to flex to 90 degrees, ten lunges for each of the five versions below is generally sufficient.
Leg Swings and Hip Hurdles: So simple and so effective. These are dynamic warm up moves you should never leave out of your warm up.
Leg Swings – Forward, backward and sideways
Hip Hurdles: Forward and backward
Now you’re ready to go for your run! It’s still important to start slow to warm up your cardiovascular system, but now your brain is firing on all cylinders too.
Finish it off with a :60 Wall Sit, legs up the wall and some nice easy stretching and you’ve done everything you can do to stay healthy and injury free!
Day 29: Active Recovery and Yoga for Runners
The day after our long run is another important day when we have to make some sacrifices. No they don’t take long, but they will make a difference in how you feel on Monday and Tuesday! Ensuring that you get in some activity and stretching the day after you punished your body, will help you walk straighter and with less soreness and you can do it in front of your TV, and with your family. So get up, go for a walk, a bike ride, an easy SHORT run, then finish the day with some Yoga for Runners!
- Yoga for Runners – “Unknot Yourself”
- Yoga for Runners – “Tight Hips and Legs”
- Yoga Poses for Runners
- 7 Key Stretches for Runners
That’s all for now Crew, GO RUN!