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Optimize Performance with Running Warm-ups


It’s no secret that a running warm-up[1] is important if it’s a race or the usual weekly run. But many runners don’t know why (or what to watch out for).

We’ve compiled a short list of the benefits of running warm-ups, tips on how to warm up properly and go-to running warm-up routines.

Below, you'll find out how running warm ups will improve your running performance. The article's top warm-up routines are at the end.

1. Running warm-ups raise your body temperature

Dynamic warm-up exercises raise your body temperature by heating up your muscles. These warm-ups increase your metabolism, and speed up the energy supply to your muscles.

2. Running warm-ups enhance muscle performance [2]

As your muscle temperature rises, your muscle viscosity (or resistance) decreases. You will experience faster muscle relaxation and contraction, which can improve your performance.

4. Running warm-ups boost heart function

Your heart also benefits from warming up. These exercises can increase cardiac output, respiratory minute volume (RMV), and thus expand your VO2 max.

man warming up

4. Running warm-ups improve the load distribution in your joints

Contrary to previous belief, new research has shown that even short-term exercise like warming up can help build joint cartilage. A thicker layer in cartilage distributes loads better and increases load bearing surface.

5. Running warm-ups help prevent injuries

Warming up properly has been proven to minimize the risk of injury. It increases tissue and muscle flexibility and prepares your body to perform fast and explosive movements. It also makes it less likely that you will pull or tear any muscle.

Warming up can improve your mental focus, and speed up your reaction times.

man stretching with resistance band

Useful Running warm-up tips:

  1. Focus on those muscles that will do most of the work.
  2. Warming up is temporary, so continue warming up right through the start of your race/run. Studies have shown that the warm-up effect only lasts about 10 minutes and then your body temperatures drop to normal levels after approximately 45 minutes.
  3. This may seem paradoxical, but the faster the race, the better your warm-up.
  4. Do not start with explosive or sprinting movements. Your warm-up should be intensified gradually.
  5. You should never exceed your anaerobic threshold during warm-up.

In addition, there are several factors to consider when deciding on how long and how hard to warm up: the distance of the race/run, the time of day, the weather, your age and your physical fitness.

Warm-ups typically last between 10 to 45 minutes depending on the race.

It is difficult to find a single way of warming up. Try the suggested running warm-up routines below and see if they work for you:


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