Run a Faster 5k - Designing Your Warmup

Maybe you know you're supposed to warmup, but you're not sure what to do, so you just skip it, just forget about it. 

Maybe you know you're supposed to warmup, but you're not sure what to do, so you just skip it, just forget about it. Or maybe you think you should just get to the line as fresh as possible. Well, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to share with you how to run a faster 5K as this mini series continues, designing your warmup as an integral part of running your fastest 5K.

If you're new to the game of running, you may think that coming to the line as fresh as possible, meaning having done nothing is the best way to run your fastest time but you would definitely be wrong, so don't listen to anybody that's telling you that. The best way to run your fastest time is come to the line fresh, but with your muscles primed and ready to go. That means you are fully warmed up, you're fully stretched out, you're firing maximum capacity. That means designing a warmup routine.

The important part to remember here is that nothing new on race day. If you haven't done a warmup routine before, don't try on race day, you're going to use these, what you design before your workout. So, you're going to the track, are you doing any kind of speed work, use these throughout the year so that when you go do those races, it's the exact same thing.

Today, I'm going to share with you kind of what I did with my teammates in college when we are doing 50-60 mile weeks, as well as what I'm doing now as a triathlete, now that I'm down to 20-30 mile run weeks on top of my other work. And then I'll show a little bit about how you can design your own warmup and the important elements of that.

So, as I mentioned in college, mileage is going to be higher, so it is easier to do a longer warmup. Our whole warmup, lasted about 45 minutes and yes, this was for a 5K. Actually, it was for anything, whether it was cross country season running 8K, 10K, or it was track season, you're getting ready to run the mile, the 800, the 5K. The warmup sequence is going to be similar no matter what you're running. It gets modified on track days when you're running multiple events, but that's a whole different ball of wax.

Our whole sequence would look something like this, we would go for a 20 minute run, then we would do some dynamic stretching, and then we would do some strides right before the race. There would be maybe a five minute window in the middle of that, where we could change shoes to get into our racing flats or spikes.

And then maybe go to the bathroom if we have to make a last stop before those strides, then we go on. I've actually modified this now to be a little bit more gradual in the warmup process now that I've backed off to 20 to 30 mile weeks in my triathlon training.

So, now my sequence looks something like okay, let's do some dynamic stretching. This is like leg swings, walking stretches, those kind of things, then I go for a 10 to 15 minute run, more of the same dynamic stretching or ply metrics, and then strides before going out to run the race. And this is assuming that I'm running a 5K or 10K, some kind of road race, or trail race, not triathlon, that has a whole other sequence of events to warmup and get going.

The guide that I'll suggest you use to design your warmup follows four steps. Step one is pre run stretching and mobility. Step two is going for that slow paced run. Step three can be repeating step one, or using some kind of dynamic exercise to isolate muscles. And then four, this is the most important, and I see a lot of people skip this is doing something to reach maximum potential, maximum firing potential with your muscles is often through strides.

In section one, we're going to doing some pre run stretching and mobility. There's a couple options here things you can go to, the first being ply metrics. I may do a ply-metric video on another day, I actually went to the track and assistance filming a whole series of ply-metrics, but my microphone cut out and I didn't end up publishing those videos. So, if you want to see those videos, subscribe to the channel, stay tuned for those. And let me know if you want to see those ply-metric videos.

But the other thing you can go to our dynamic stretches and mobility, often referred to as walking stretches. The idea being that we are trying to do a kind of very minimal activity to get the blood flowing through our muscles to get our muscles warmed up and starting to elongate without the possibility of trauma, which is basically saying we don't want to go from cold to sprinting, because the possibility of injuring muscles is much higher when you go from a dead stop to maximum capacity.

So, it's this gradual process that we begin with by using these kind of minimal resistance stretching activities.

Section two is going to be a run of some sort. If you are doing higher mileage like I was back in college, then a 20 minute run is going to be good. Especially if you do a 5K, you don't really need to go longer than that, at least in my experience.

If you're doing kind of where I am now, 20 to 30 miles, 10 to 15 minutes may be perfect for you. Again, this is something you experiment with before race day, and you'll kind of figure it out for yourself. I would just at least five minutes even if you're 10 miles or below a week, because you need a little bit of time for blood to get flowing through all those muscles.

Pace should not be hard here. You need to be at longer and pace or a little bit slower. The whole idea is we're just doing this gradual warmup process. We're not trying to tire ourselves out, we're not trying to burn extra glycogen by going fast.

That will come at the race or at the workout, depending on when you're doing this actual routine. So, get that long run pacing, figure out what your minutes are, again, that depends on your mileage and your fitness level and then we'll go on to section three.

Section three really can be more of the same from section one. The idea being that since you've gone through some pre run mobility exercises, now you've run for a little bit, you should have a greater range of motion to continue your stretching routine and waking those muscles up even further.

You have to remember, a flexible muscle is a strong muscle. A strong muscle is a powerful muscle, the more power you can produce, the faster you go. It's this whole sequence of things we put in order to maximize our own potential at the 5K.

So, again, you can go back and do ply-metric here, you can do more walking stretches, but you need to cover a variety of your muscle groups, all the muscle groups that are important to running. Which means quads, armstrings, calves both gastrocnemius and soleus.

And you know, get some extra movement in there too from side to side. You may notice I'm bringing this video the same week I'm talking about piriformis, so it is important to get those side to side motions in because we are susceptible to side to side injuries. So, if you build those things in your routine, it helps the susceptibility of injury go down, if you just make it a part of your everyday life, but that's kind of a sidebar.

So, our last section is going to be strides. And you can actually do these strides, two different ways. The first is going to be going over your race pace, and then the other one is going to be going to your race pace. Now, I should explain strides are a slow acceleration to whichever pace you're after. Personally, I'm going to suggest doing one then the other.

So, from a dead stop, you'll be standing, you'll begin running and again, this is slow usually like a trot. You accelerate up and faster than you intend on racing, and then you decelerate. The whole sequence last 15 seconds, it's not very long, you're not trying to get exercising, you're just trying to wake those muscles up.

The idea being that if we go over our race pace, we're trying to recruit more muscle fibers. We're trying to recruit all the muscle fibers we have available to us so that all those firing sequences can be used in our race.

The idea, again, is that when we have all of those muscles available to us, all those firing sequences available to us at a higher capacity, the lower capacity is easier to use. So, I would suggest doing a couple of those where you accelerate up and faster than your race pace, and then do a couple where you accelerate just to your intended race pace and then slow down.

It gives you the ability to to practice your race pace before you get off the line. You can kind of get rid of some nerves. You can say yes, I'm very confident in my race pace, I know exactly what it is and you get to feel that out before the gun goes off.

So, once you've got those in, you've completed your entire race routine. Remember, today's video is just one part of my kind of mini series on how to run a faster 5K. If you've not seen my other videos on how to run a faster 5K, subscribe to the channel, hit that button down there, go check those out in a second.

But remember, you want to always practice these things before you get to race day. So, use them on your workout days. Try them out, try out different sequences of ply-metrics and dynamic stretches. Figure out what's going to work for you the best, what you're most comfortable with, and also get you to that most comfortable effort. And this means probably keeping a running journal if you're not doing that yet. Most of us have smartphones, you can get an app for that, or just keep a paper journal.

That's all I've got for you today. What else do you want to know about running faster 5K? Leave them for me in the comments below, I'd love to help you out. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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