Thursday, May 31, 2007

Warming Up Before Running Intervals

One often overlooked advantage to interval training is that you get to practice your warm-up. Much like a 5K race, intervals take your body from zero to race pace in nothing flat, and that takes the body a little getting used to.

When you start fast, blood is immediately shunted to the legs, and the heart responds by beating faster. Warming up prior to high intensity leaves the leg muscles warmer and pumped full of blood ready to run. It makes perfect sense to me that after a proper warm-up, the body doesn't have to work as hard getting through this initial start-up process, thus delaying oxygen debt and making running a bit easier.

A good warm-up routine involves 5-15 minutes of easy jogging, followed by 5 minutes of light stretching and perhaps a few range of motion drills. I like to go through a set of 10 rapid back kicks, lifting my heels to kick my gluts. Before a race, I always do 4-6 race pace strides for about 50 meters, allowing at least 5 minutes of recovery before the gun goes off. Before intervals, I do the strides just 2-3 minutes before the starting the first one.

Pre- interval warm-ups are a perfect time to practice and get comfortable with your own personal warm-up routine. If you are new to intervals, you will also experience some pre-workout jitters. This is completely normal and to your advantage. Intervals not only prepare you physically to run hard, they also prepare you mentally!

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