If you are just starting out running, then here are some important workout tips for beginners which will help you maximise your training, care for your body, improve posture and flexibility, and prevent injuries. It may be tempting to skip the warmup and cool down and jump straight in – hit the ground running so to speak – but our advice is don’t!
Why are warm-ups and cool-downs important?
Running without a warmup can expose you to the risk of pulling a muscle, tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint, or getting into an unsustainable pace, resulting in you burning out before you finish your session. The worst part is that you’re likely to end your run feeling exhausted, discouraged, and dreading your next workout
A proper warm up will prepare your joints, bones, and muscles for the more strenuous activity to follow. According to Runnersworld, a good warmup will gradually and gently brings up your heart rate, and makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain so you can run—and finish—feeling exhilarated and energized enough to go longer. A cool down will get your body and muscles safely back down to normal operating temperatures.
Cool-downs helps your body return to a state of rest by relaxing your muscles and lowering your heart rate and breathing from your workout intensity. It helps your body to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products faster and to repair micro-injuries. Cool downs also provide your muscles with oxygenated blood, which speeds up the recovery process and helps you avoid sore muscles. All of these help you to recover faster from your training and be ready for your next workout sooner!
How to Warm up before a run
- Do about 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise to loosen up your muscles and warm you up for your run. Some good pre-run warm-up exercises include walking briskly, marching, jogging slowly, or cycling on a stationary bike. Make sure you don’t rush your warmup.
- It’s a good idea to include some dynamic stretches or exercises before your run to activate the muscles you will be using while running. Dynamic stretches you can try include walking lunges, jumping jacks, opposite toe touches, leg swings, and arm circles. See the video below for more!
- Begin your run. Don’t start out racing, but instead jog slowly at first and gradually build up your speed. You should be breathing very easily. If you feel yourself getting out of breath, slow down. Make sure to pay attention to your posture and form.
How to Cool Down
- After you finish your run, cool down by walking or slowly jogging for 5 to 10 minutes. The aim is to decrease your pace gradually instead of abruptly stopping. Your breathing and heart rate should gradually return to normal.
- After your heart rate has normalised, but before your body and muscles completely cools down, do a few dynamic stretches. These dynamic stretches will help re-balance your body from the repetitive running motions and increase flexibility, while also improving your overall performance.
- Follow up with a few static stretches to prevent stiff joints and tight muscles. You can also use a foam roller and get a massage.
- Make sure you rehydrate after your run!
Difference between dynamic and static stretching
A dynamic stretch are motions that are done repeatedly and continuously, meaning they are active movements that are not held in an end position. Athletes usually use dynamic stretches to prevent injury and to loosen up the joints and muscles before strenuous workout as it eases the body from rest into motion.
A static stretch is a deep, slow stretch, of a certain muscle to a point where you feel a pull, and the position is held for a period of time. Static stretches help relieve any muscle tension caused by exercise and provide better blood flow to aid in recovery.
To help maximize their benefits, and your performance, make sure that you stick to dynamic stretches before a workout and static stretches after a workout.