The Marathon Series: Warming Up

Wednesday 26 November 2014 by

Sunrise, Running, Marathon training, Warm up

Welcome back to week four of my Marathon Series, as I blog my way to a marathon – from beginner to 26.2 miles. This week, we’re talking about warming up.

There are two things that people often don’t bother doing when they start out training- warming up properly, and cooling down properly. It leads to injury and agony and can put you off for life. For me, I have a speedy warm-up routine to get my leg muscles working, and sets me up for my run.

Jog

Pick a short stretch to warm up along (I currently live in a cul de sac, so use that space, but you could run to the end of your road and back, or down one side of a field) and jog up and down it to get your legs moving. Don’t go too fast, just adjust your body to the movement.

High knees

You know this one – using the same stretch that you jogged along, now run along it, bringing your knees up as high as you can. Keep your body upright and use your arms to gain momentum. You don’t have to do a certain number, or do it particularly fast, just try to bring your knees up to your chest, but don’t strain yourself, only go as far as feels comfortable.

Kick-backs

Another obvious one; this time kick your legs back so your heels hit your bum. Nothing too fast or hard, and you can place your hands there so you can feel how high your flicking your legs back.

Dynamic lunges

Stand in one position with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Now take one knee and lift it towards your chest. Try not to go too high, I tend to lift it to just beyond 90°. Then, rather than placing it straight back down, stretch it out backwards and place your foot as flat to the floor as you can. Repeat this a few times, varying the length of the stride behind as you do. You should feel the muscles in your calf working. Then do the same with the other leg. I tend to do between 15 and 20.

Squats

With your feet a shoulder-width apart, bend your knees until you’re in a sitting position (if your balance isn’t great, just go down as far as is comfortable). Keep your body upright and your feet flat to the floor. You can use your arms as balance if need be. Try to do these smoothly and without break (don’t hold them for any length of time – you’re trying to get movement in to the muscles!) and repeat 5-10 times.

Ankle rolls

Having suffered in the past from knee problems and shin splints, I like to give my ankles a really quick roll around before I go, just to brace them! It’s as obvious as it sounds – lift one foot and roll your ankle in circular motions a few times clockwise, then anti-clockwise, and repeat on the other foot.

Warming up (and cooling down) is hugely essential to good running. You avoid injury, and your runs are that much easier. It’s so important to take the extra five minutes to warm up before a run and get your body in to the right zone. The warm up I do really does only take five minutes tops, so I don’t feel like I’m spending forever “preparing” to go out and then by the time I do I’ve lost all interest!

What do you do to warm up before exercise?

Don’t forget to let me know how you’re getting on, using the hashtag #HoBFitness. And check back in a couple weeks’ time to find out about my cool-down routine.

* Please be careful when trying a new warm up routine and listen to your body – everyone is different. Check out the NHS pages on warming up for more guidance.

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