Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We really don't get it . . .

I happened to run into a few of my neighbors as I was beginning my run the other day and something I've noticed is that 99% of runners have no clue how to warm up or even what a warm up is really all about.  I'm much faster than my neighbor friends at least at race pace and we were all beginning our run and I refused to keep up with them as they immediately started at something near a 8:00 - 8:30 pace.  Similarly, I watch a lot of runners jump out the door of their house and immediately start in the 8:30 pace range which I think is insane.  The body hasn't awaken much less warmed up.  I tend to start in the 11:00 pace range even on days I'm going to eventually do tempo runs in the 6:00 pace range.  I learned this from elite level runners who I watched prod along very slowly during warm-up.

And, another thing, the idea, even as promoted by our running magazines, that a 20 min. warm-up is sufficient is not only wrong, but short sided.  It was awhile to warm-up the body correctly before launching into a hard effort workout.  I tend to warm-up for 40-45 minutes, followed by some active stretching, before moving into hard effort running.  This is likely why I haven't suffered a serious injury in many years.  Maybe it's a cultural thing in that we are just too darn impatient to let our bodies warm-up.  Or, perhaps, we don't have time and just force the issue instead of waiting until maybe the weekends when we have more time to properly prepare.  Or, maybe it's a competitive thing where we can't prod along because our ego's can't handle other runners passing us while we are warming up.  I don't know but I do know this is one of the major reasons so many runners are injured on a yearly basis and it won't change because we refuse to practice patience.



  1. Harry,

    Again another good post. And as usual a couple of questions for you. You have mentioned before about your breathing while running and if I remember correctly you are not entirely through the nose or through the mouth but a combination of both. (I did download the Zen of Running you mentioned. Very good.) Anyway from following BFT's the minimialist group on google and Maffetone's style about the heart rate while running....if I am breathing thru my nose mostly while running then I should not be going too fast for my current condition. Would you agree with this?

    Also do you have to force yourself to start slow? There are times when my body feels great and I'm moving along a pretty good pace early in the run (nothing as fast as you). So if I understand my body correctly it was ok to get this fast this early...other times, nope let's go slow and enjoy being outdoors. Is this somewhat the same with you?

    On the journey,

  2. Hi Scott, sorry for the late reply. Regarding breathing, I very rarely breath through the nose as I only do it to reset my breathing rhythm as needed (but it's very rare). I do use this method when I'm standing still and want to completely relax but very rarely while running.

    Regarding warm-up and pace, I believe you run by feel but over time I've established a warm up rhythm which is fairly slow for me and that's how I like it. With that said, it also depends on when you run. I run early in the morning right after I get out of bed so my body is completely cold so I must start very slow and allow my body 25-40 minutes to warm up. If I run at night, which is very rare, I can start faster b/c my body is warmer from daily activities. But generally speaking I think you need to train your body to run as slowly as possible during warm up but never run so slow that it feels uncomfortable.



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