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 Warming up should be a focus in every workout and race.  Plan a warm-up sequence before every workout. A good warm-up should include jogging...

 Warming up should be a focus in every workout and race. 

Plan a warm-up sequence before every workout. A good warm-up should include jogging and exercises that help your muscles and joints get ready, as well as work on form, agility, balance, coordination and efficiency. Even in hot weather you should warm up before every workout. 

Both the activities and the sequence of the activities done in the warm-up are important. Static stretching can actually be worse for your body when performed before your muscles are not thoroughly warm. Warm-up activities and sequence is especially important in cold weather. Set a pattern for your warm-up. If you have a set pattern with some variations for different weather and types of races, your warm-up will be second nature.   

ON A COLD DAY: When the weather is really cold, warm up two to three times as much as you would normally so that your joints and muscles are truly ready. Always wear pants to and from, if not during, your workout to keep joints warm. In cold weather, save the high knees and pick-ups until you are completely warmed up, or skip them altogether. Every person needs a different amount of warm up, but everyone needs a longer warm up in cold weather. If you find you can’t warm up, consider an inside workout, an easy run or skipping the run workout for the day. It is more likely you will injure yourself on a speed workout when you are not properly warmed up.  

BEFORE THE RACE: Plan time before every race to warm up. A warm up for a race is nothing different than what you do normally before a workout. Set a routine during regular practices, and make time before your race to do the same routine. Recently one of my athletes ran a 5k and came in last in his age group. This year he came in second, but he was bummed to miss first by 4 seconds. He said he was late to the event and did not warm up. 

RETURNING FROM BREAK: You are most likely to be injured when returning after a break by attempting to perform the way you were training before the break. The longer the break, the longer it will take you to return to your former speed and distance marks. If you have not been running for a while, your warm up should be at least 30 percent of your workout. Here’s an example warm up routine: 

  • 10-20 minute jog (longer for cold weather)
  • 4-8 dynamic drills that incorporate large and small muscle groups side to sides, cross overs, 
  • 3-4 pick ups, to remind your body how to go fast
  • maybe another 10 minute jog in cold weather

After a thorough warm up, go straight into main set. Talk to a coach, or attend a coached track workout for information on a good workout routine best for you.  

    Liz Elliott is the head coach of the Tri-Valley Triathlon Club based in Dublin. Liz specializes in preparing beginner triathletes for their first race(s). Liz just completed her second Ironman in August, bettering her performance in every aspect of the race. Contact her at Find former TriSteps columns in issues #28, 31, 33, 35, 37 and 39. All can be accessed in the digital magazine archives at 



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