Have you ever noticed that when you start running that it takes a few minutes (or miles) to “get into a rhythm?” If you notice you are gasping for air after five minutes and then feel you have settled into a steady state after ten minutes, you could benefit from a better warm-up routine.
We all have excuses for skipping the warm-up… “I only have thirty minutes, I’ll just warm up as I go,” “I don’t want to waste any energy on the warm-up,” or my personal favorite, “It’s hot outside, I don’t need to warm up!” I know you have used at least ONE of these before.
What if I told you that warming up prior to your run can reduce the initial fatigue and actually allow you to run FASTER? While warming up is important for all of our muscles, it is also important for our lungs. As we begin a physical activity, we build up an oxygen deficit. Notice how when you start running, it takes a few minutes to begin breathing more heavily? Your lungs need more time to catch up to the physical demand your muscles can make right away.
As you can see in the image above, as you begin to exercise the oxygen deficit grows, then levels off to a steady state. It is during that time when you may begin to feel more at ease while running. Once you finish running, it takes a few minutes to breathe normally. That is your body’s way of “repaying the debt.”
So how does this pertain to warming up? If you warm up effectively enough, you will start your race already at the “steady state.” Allowing you to run faster, with less breathing fatigue. Check out the video below for the warm-up we use as physical therapists to prep your muscles, as well as your lungs, for running!
Teach Me How To Warm Up!
1. Bishop, David. “Potential Mechanisms and the Effects of Passive Warm Up on Exercise Performance.” Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 33, no. 6, 2003, pp. 439–454