You may often see athletes jogging around or doing sprints before a race. What are these crazy people doing? Just adding extra mileage? Not necessarily.
WHY WARM UP?
Warming up before a race by doing some light jogging or sprints gets your muscles warmed up and ready to race. Instead of going from 0-60 in a matter of seconds, a short warmup will get your heart rate up and prep your body for the race or workout. By allowing your body to “wake up” and get moving, you can potentially enhance your performance. As your muscle LIGHT JOGGING FOR 10 MINUTES temperature rises, oxygen and blood flow increase allowing the body to react quicker and
Consider starting your warmup about 20-30 minutes before the race start. You want to have plenty of time to warm up and get back in the starting corral or line without being rushed. Begin with light jogging or walking followed by sprints or short bursts of hard effort once you’ve been active for a few minutes. You can also do dynamic warmup exercises such as leg swings, squats, butt kicks, high knees, etc. These increase your heart rate, warm up the muscles, open up the joints, and actively stretch the muscles. Consider how long your warmup will take and start at the appropriate time; you want to be finished about five minutes before the race starts to maximize the warm-up phase.
WHY COOL DOWN?
Just as warming up is important to your performance, cooling down is crucial to your next performance. You need to allow your body to recover and prepare for your next effort. Cooling down helps muscles clear lactate and other waste while loosening tight muscles. Plus, instead of going from 60-0 after a race, you can slowly allow your heart rate to come down and let your body gradually return to normal after a hard effort.
Jog or walk for a few minutes after a race, and then do some static stretching, or long holds that lengthen and help heal your muscles. Static stretching is most beneficial after a hard effort while your muscles are limber. For long-distance races you may want to also consider an ice bath to help eliminate muscle soreness and fatigue.
Marcia Scott is the Training Program Coordinator at Fleet Feet Sports. For more information call 901.761.0078 or visit fleetfeetmemphis.com.