How should you warm up for before you run?

There are numerous ways to warm up for your daily runs.  Those following the latest research on running are aware that static stretching before your run (touching your toes, etc.) has shown static to be either ineffective or counterproductive.

What is the alternative to static stretching?  Thankfully, runners, coaches and PT’s  interested in the progression of the sport have worked to create new and more effective warm ups.  For those who have yet to try these new types of warm ups they are called “dynamic warm ups” and involve movements instead of holding poses with the muscles you are going to use.  Below are two of my favorite exercises which I have combined, and modified, into my own personalized warm up.

The first is from Coach Jay Johnson, whose website is a wealth of knowledge for running nerds looking for great interviews, stretches, strengthening activities, speed drills and much more.  I have heard Jay refer to this warm up as both the “Lunge Warm Up” and the “Lunge Matrix.”  The Lunge Matrix just sounds cooler and so that is what I often refer to it as.  Some of your muscles will likely feel alive and awake the first few times you do this since it might be the first time they’ve been used in many years (if ever).

Jay’s warm up is an excellent warm up not only for its use as a warm up and strengthening tool but also because it is time efficient.  Many of us struggle to find the time to run and might be asking, “How am I going to find time to add something else on top of the time needed for running?”  This warm up is brief enough to easily implement it to the start of your daily run without worrying about adding too much extra time to your daily time spent running.   It is also simple enough to easily memorize after a few times through.

Jay is constantly looking to upgrade this warm up.  My own issue over the past year continues to be tightness in my shoulders and neck while running and so the movements below complete the other half of my ideal warm up:  the upper body portion.  The movements below are from stretching guru Phil Wharton and are the best compliment to the lower body exercises from the first video that I’ve found so far.

I am going to post a video of my version of these two warm up activities in the near future.  Please leave a comment or question below about what has been your most effective warm up routine(s)?  What would you like to see in a warm up routine?  How important is the amount of time spent warming up to you?

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How can you benefit from a personal running coach?

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Where are YOU headed?

To ask why someone would need or want a running coach is a valid question.  My mindset for many years was that I would just run a lot, get in a workout here and there and the results would take care of themselves.  As I continued to run and read about running and talk to other runners I became more and more aware of the overwhelming amount of information on websites, books, magazines and elsewhere about how to train for running.  Anyone with a subscription to Running Times or Runner’s World can verify that there seems to be a new favorite workout or series of workouts each issue that often seem to conflict with one another.

After a lot of injury, trial and error, and years of experimentation with different plans, theories, and coaches and feel as though now I am able to pull together the best knowledge from all of these experiences and apply them to myself and others, saving others many headaches and countless hours of reading.

Improvement by design 

Effective personal coaching, unlike the previously mentioned magazines (and there are many more websites offering one-size-fits-all training plans), provides training based on runner feedback that involves asking a number of appropriate questions.  Even the best runners need independent feedback on their training before moving on to the next series of workouts and cycle of training.  A good coach helps runners set a goal and then works backward from the goal to the runners current ability, devising a path to get there.

Investing in a personal coach provides the independent and reliable voice of reason as to when and how to stretch, how to train to avoid injuries, how to treat common running injuries, when and how to add speedwork to a training plan, when to add mileage, how to maximize fat loss, what and when to eat, how to warm up and cool down, and all of the little things that you only think to ask when there is no one around.

the little things that you only think to ask when there is no one around

Effective coaches will take a long term approach with their runners, helping them overcome the urge (that is human nature) to race workouts or go too easy or lay in bed some days.

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Wouldn’t we all rather be in bed some days?

Accountability

A runner who utilizes a coach has made an important agreement with themselves to set goals and be accountable to them.  In any endeavor goal setting is a key factor in success.  To get where we want to go we have to be heading in the right direction.  To head in the right direction we need to identify that direction first and then find then most efficient route to get there.  A coach can keep us going in that direction just when we might feel the temptation to quit.

Confidence

Having a coach write up your workouts, give you motivation and inspiration, prepare you for races and overcome rough patches is a major confidence booster when standing at the starting line of a race.  It is incredibly reassuring to know that you are not just running for yourself but for friends and family and you have been prepared well and will have an opportunity to test and show your preparation.

You will know that, unlike many other runners, you did not just complete random workouts at random paces.  You did not just run each day.  You TRAINED for this race on this day.  You’ve hit paces for certain amounts of time that have prepared your mind and prepared your body for this.   Your coach has physically and mentally prepared you to be your best.  It is possible to be the you that you dream of.

Time and money

Life is increasingly fast paced and hectic for almost all of us.  There are only so many hours in the day to sleep, prepare and clean up from meals, hang out with family and friends, work and run.  What percentage of people have the time to do all of that and still read through books, magazines and websites weighing the pro’s and con’s of various training plans?  Not many.

We don’t all have time to become plumbers, investors, mechanics, dry cleaners, electricians, pilots, doctors, etc. so we hire specialists to do these things for us.  The decision to hire a coach is no difference though I would argue that decisions regarding your mental and physical should be weighted towards the top of our priorities.

For less than the prices of a Starbucks coffee each day (I love it too) or less you can make an investment to be not just a better runner but a healthier you.  Knowing that you have committed to working with a coach you will have another reason to avoid that extra serving of dessert, that extra push on the snooze button, that extra hour watching tv.

At this time next do you want to look back and say “YES!!! I finally did it this year,  Look at all I have accomplished!” or do we want to look back and wish we had taken that step and not procrastinated again?

Custom coaching service giveaway

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While thinking back to all of the thoughtful advice I have received from many coaches and runners over the past years I am going to make the month of February 2013 an experiment I have not seen and since I like being the first to do new things I am going to extend an offer to the next 15 people who comment on this thread a unique opportunity.

I am offering an opportunity to receive a month’s worth of free customized running coaching.

The coaching will begin with an interview about your running goals and background and within a few days I will have a week’s worth of training available for you based on your specific situation.  From there we will remain in contact and adapt your following workouts and training sessions based on how your body is responding to those workouts.

Why would I do this?

The reason for doing this is in the mindset of the “The Lean Startup” as written by Eric Ries.  While I currently do have a number of athletes I am coaching, with greatly varying goals, I am looking to gather feedback as to how I can improve my services as well as pay back to the running community all that it has done for.  If I coach those who come forward well, hopefully they will be impressed enough with the services they’ve been rendered to refer friends and continue on.

So if you are looking to take that next step, looking to fulfill that New Year’s resolution, or just ready to test what your body is really capable of (it’s more than you think) I invite you to join us.

Sample week of 5k training

Many of us have experimented with a number different running schedules while training for a 5k.  In my opinion there is definitely not one schedule that is going to work for everyone and to some extent there are multiple schedules that are going to benefit an individual runners.  The order of workouts can be tinkered with but most runners are going to benefit from running at a variety of efforts throughout the week and particularly hitting certain paces that are related to their goal race.

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If someone were training for a 5k and were nearing their target race they would be best served by hitting as close to goal pace as possible and there are a number of ways to do that and also hit on all their systems but a sample week that will get most runners close to this is below.

Monday: Easy run + strides (distance will vary based on the runner but pace should be comfortable)

Tuesday: Intervals or tempo run (intervals are anywhere from 200 to 1200 at goal race pace, rest should be slighter longer than half the time the repetition took).  A 10 minute warmup and cooldown should be included. Tempo run is 20-40 minutes at a moderately hard pace.

Wednesday: Easy day again

Thursday: Do the opposite of what you did Tuesday

Friday: Easy + hill sprints (3-10 x 6-10 sprints uphill with full recovery between)

Saturday: Race or steady state run (similar to tempo run but more relaxed)

Sunday:  Long run of 90 minutes, give or take

Now, if the Saturday race were a big one I’d push the workouts to Monday and Wednesday for an additional easy day before the race.  There is obviously a lot of things not mentioned here such as stretching, nutrition, cooldown, strength and core work, etc. but a skeleton is in place with the week above.  It is nothing fancy and improving as a runner doesn’t depend on fancy, it is usually built on steady aerobic improvement over a long time coupled with adequate strength building to protect yourself from injury.  Adding time and mileage to your easy days over a long period of time is the way for steady growth.

Thoughts on what has best worked for you would be greatly appreciated in the comments.

Coaching services

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Despite reading many years of worth of Runner’s World and Running Times magazines, reading a number of highly recommended running books, and reading countless online running websites I was still unsatisfied with my rate of improvement.  I was particularly unsatisfied considering the amount of time I spent computing formulas for the “perfect” running schedule.

Is there a “perfect” running schedule?

Last year I began working with a running coach and have been extremely pleased with the results both in terms of the ease of mind it has given me, the confidence, and the independent analysis that I needed.  Having gone through this experience has validated some of the information I read in many books and magazines as being sound and worthy of passing along to others.

Train smarter, not harder!

I currently use all of the lessons I have learned over the past 20 years through trial and error, reading, listening/learning to coach a number of runners currently.  These runners come from all ages and ability levels and I will be relaying some of their success stories in the coming days and weeks.  I have tried to help save them the hassle of having to reinvent the wheel that so many of us have had to do before realizing how to make the best of our training to avoid injury, improve our health, and run faster and farther.

The time to start is now!

For the month of January I will be offering monthly coaching for runners at the rate of $59.99 per month.  This coaching will include a customized running schedule based on your history, current ability and goals.  We will work together to asess this and set up an appropriate schedule.

To initiate your free consultation please click here if you are ready to be the best YOU this year.