Find out how the runner warm up should be varied according to conditions and the type of session you are planning on doing.

The warm up is arguably one of the most important aspects of training, yet it’s probably the most over-looked. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve seen the warm up routines of many runners involve jogging on the spot for ten seconds followed by a few token stretches whilst chatting away to a training buddy!

Whilst most of us understand the purpose of a warm up – to increase blood flow, body temperature, muscle pliability and joint movement, did you know that you should adapt your warm up to suit the environmental conditions and the type of training that you are about to undertake? Check out the realbuzz guide to warming up:

Before a cold weather run

Starting a run too cold can be a real injury risk as cold muscles, tendons and ligaments have less elasticity and are therefore more likely to tear. When the temperature drops you should increase the amount of time spent on your warm up routine.

Start with a very slow jog and gradually increase the pace over the course of 10-15 minutes so that you increase blood flow and muscle temperature. Once your muscles are feeling warmer and more pliable, you should include some dynamic stretching such as lunges and leg swings.

Before a warm weather run

Warm environmental conditions generally require a much shorter warm up as your heart rate will already be elevated and your muscles warm as a result of the heat. Ploughing on with your usual warm up routine will likely result in your core body temperature increasing to the point where it has a negative effect on performance.

When it’s warm you should reduce the length of time that you spend jogging and focus more on dynamic stretching and mobility work. Try to stay in the shade where possible.

Before speed work

Warming up before more intense sessions such as speed work is particularly important as faster running will place a greater strain on your body. You should include at least 10 minutes of jogging, followed by some dynamic stretching and running specific drills.

In order to prime your anaerobic energy systems and to get your neuromuscular system firing, you could also try some fast, extended strides as part of your warm up routine. This will help you to be ready to hit your goal pace from the gun and avoid that sluggish feeling that can often occur during the first kilometre or so.  Do 2-3 150m fast strides as part of your warm up and this should do the trick.

Before a long run

It can be hard to strike the right balance for a warm up before a longer run as you need to ensure that your body is primed for action yet you don’t want to burn valuable glycogen in the process. The most efficient way to warm up prior to a longer run is to reduce the length of time that you spend jogging or better still, incorporate the warm up into the long run itself. Why not try easing into the first mile or so of a longer run, using it as a warm up?

Before a strength and conditioning/gym session

The main focus of your warm up prior to a strength and conditioning session should be on the movement patterns that you will be using.  For example, if your session includes weighted squats and lunges then your warm up routine should include some repetitions of these movements using just your bodyweight. This helps to prime your neuromuscular system, reinforces the correct technique and increases your range of motion before you start to add load.