Running is somewhat of an “umbrella term” which can be broken down further into jogging and sprinting. Even though jogging and sprinting are both 'technically' running, they actually require somewhat different types of warmups.
In this article, we’re going to cover the best warm-up practices for both jogging and sprinting.
Ready to do this?
Great. Let’s begin.
DO I REALLY NEED TO WARM-UP TO RUN?
Warming up is definitely one of the most important parts of your run and if you are taking your workout seriously then it should not be left out!
The main reason to warm up before any type of running is for injury prevention. Warm muscles are more responsive to exercise and are far less likely to get injured. You’ll also get more out of your run after a proper warmup.
WARM UP FOR JOGGING
Because jogging is done at a low intensity, you really don’t need to spend too much time warming up here. Listed below are 3 ideas of ways to get yourself warmed up before going out for a jog:
- Foam roll for 3-5 minutes: Somewhere between 5-10 rolls per muscle area will be plenty for a warm-up. Focus on your calves, hamstrings, IT bands, and quads.
Dynamic mobility drills: Leg swings, side leg swings, and even ankle rotations are great. Aim for somewhere between 10-15 reps per exercise.
- Lightly get the blood pumping: Higher intensity exercises such as Jumping jacks, squat jumps, and even lunges are fine to use. Aiming for 10-20 reps per exercise the focus is to start feeling warm and getting that blood pumping.
You can use 1,2, or all 3 of the ideas listed above, and you should be ready and warmed up for your jog. Below is an example of how you can combine all three to create a well-rounded warm-up.
Running warm-up exercise list:
- Foam roll 5 minutes
- 10x Front to back leg swings, per leg
- 10x Side to side leg swings, per leg
- 10x Ankle rotations, per ankle
- 20x Total walking lunge steps
- 10x Jump squats
Again, your jogging warm-up doesn’t need to be anything elaborate or time-intensive. Five to ten minutes should be more than enough to get you going.
WARM UP FOR SPRINTING
Alright, so our jogging warm-up was pretty tame. That definitely should not be the case for sprinting. In fact, your sprinting warm-up should start to blur the lines between warm-up and workout. It should leave you sweaty, definitely get the heart beating, and prime you for full out sprints.
You can ease into your sprinting warm-up by following the same sample routine that is laid out in the jogging section. However, in order to properly get our legs ready for sprinting, we need to add in another layer to our sprint warmup routine: progressive sprints.
Progressive sprints mean that you get somewhere between 2-6 short, but progressively harder sprints before you start your max effort sprinting sets. For example, if you’re planning to do 4x400m sprint repeats, your progressive sprint warm-up could look something like this:
- Go through the sample warm-up from the jogging section
- 50m sprint at 80% effort
- 100m sprint at 80% effort
- 200m sprint at 80% effort
- Go into your sprint workout from here…
Because sprinting is so intense, the risk of injury goes up as well. The last thing you want to do is start knocking out max effort sprints with legs that aren’t properly warmed up. With this in mind, the progressive sprint portion of your warm-up is important to make sure that your legs are ready to hit their redline, without doing something crazy like pulling a hamstring.
After completing a good warm-up, you can discover the benefits of sprint workouts.
How to Gauge Your Effort For Running
Saying things like 80% effort sounds good on paper, but in reality, it’s hard to actually know what 80% effort truly feels like. Don’t get too hung up here though. As a general rule of thumb 80% sprint effort should be much faster than your jogging pace and feel uncomfortable, but not painful.
A full out sprint should just feel painful (due to lactic acid buildup).
This is fairly subjective, but with a little bit of sprinting practice, you’ll start to develop the feel for these different effort levels.
Remember, the goal of any running warm-up is injury prevention. However, because the intensity of jogging is very low, your warm-up here can be mild and last just a few minutes. Foam rolling, dynamic mobility drills, and/or exercises to lightly get the blood pumping are perfect for this.
Because full out sprinting is so intense, it is really important that you make your warm-up longer and also more intense. Using progressive sprints to gradually warm-up your legs is a good habit to get into and will help you make those sprints more full out.
Lastly, don't forget that resistance training for running is just as important as properly warming up.