How to warm up before running a 5K

Why should I warm up before running

Let me ask you guys a question – What do you do to warm up before running a 5k race?

I am only asking because everyone I see at running events or races seem to do something different.

So what about you?

Do you do warm up exercises before running, do you have a specific pre-race warm up or ritual. Or do you just get going and count the first 10 minutes running as your warm up.

Regardless of what method you use, we’ve come to realise that warming up before running is a vital part of every athlete’s routine.

But do you know why? And for that matter are you doing it correctly?

That’s why we’ve decided to simplify all the complexities and help all runners by covering these topics:

  • What is a warm up?
  • How to warm up before running a 5K race
  • How to do a simple 10 minute warm up for running
  • And should you do a cool down

What is a Warm Up?

I want you to imagine that your body is like a car, and you’ve been parked outside in the cold for hours. Do you think you could turn on the ignition and go from 0-60mph in 4 seconds?

You could try, but I am sure a car mechanic would tell you that you’re about to do some damage to your vehicle. 

And that is exactly how our bodies work. If you don’t prepare your body for the stresses of physical activity it will most certainly lead to a breakdown. I.e. Injuries.

Warming up is any activity that serves as the physical and or mental preparation before exercise or a sporting event. It’s a crucial part of your exercise routine as it prepares your body to manage the stresses of prolonged physical activity, such as running 5km.

Note: Warm ups are meant to prepare not exhaust or fatigue your body. So pay careful attention to factors such as your heart rate and breathing efficiency during your warm up. Similarly, an effective warm up can be as short as 3 minutes and as long as 12, depending on the activity. Anything longer or shorter in duration can hamper your performance as you will not be fully prepared or you will find yourself pre-exhausted.

How to warm up before running a 5K race

How to warm up before running a 5K

Let’s get into some specifics about what you need to do for warming up before your run. And how you should be going about it.

When it comes to a warm up there are two main objectives that we want to achieve:

1. Increasing your overall body temperature

The reason we need to increase our overall body temperature is actually pretty simple:
To pump more oxygen rich blood to your extremities.

By doing a series of light to moderate intensity physical movements, you will raise your heart rate. And an elevated heart rate means more oxygenated blood being pumped through your body.

Which leads into next point…

2. Activating your muscles and joints

By pumping more oxygen rich blood to your body’s extremities, you will be helping your muscles and joints get activated. This will essentially get your body physically prepared for the activity you’re about to participate in, as activated muscles and joints lead to better performances.

But here is the thing, how many times have you stood at the finish line, 5 mins before your run starts. You turn to your left and you see the person next to you busy stretching.

So you instinctively start doing one or two stretches. STOP! 

No seriously, you need to stop stretching before you run. You see, despite popular opinions stretching before a run is not beneficial.

Research is continually providing us with significant evidence that stretching before physical activity has little to no benefits. In fact, research suggests that it actually hampers performance. 

Yes, that’s correct stretching as a warm up before running a 5km is bad for you. Who would’ve thought!

So if you’re not supposed to stretch before running, what are we supposed to be doing? 

Well, you should stretch. I know, I know, we just said not to stretch. But there is an explanation.

We’re not talking about conventional static stretching as you know it. We’re talking about dynamic stretching.

In layman’s terms, dynamic stretching involves actual movement of the body, while conventional stretching is usually more static.

And the more you move the better you will ultimately perform.

So by utilising dynamic stretching as part of your 10 minutes warming up or your specific pre race warm up, you’re putting yourself in the best position to dominate your next run.

How to do an easy and effective 10 minute warm up before a run

How to do a 10 minute warm up before race

When it comes to having a specific pre-race warm up there is a basic checklist of things you need to cover, all in just 10 minutes.

This includes activating your: 

  • Deep foot and calf muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Core and lower back

And you will need to mobilise your:

  • Ankle joints
  • Knees
  • Hips (adductors and abductors) 
  • Lumbar and thoracic spine

Wait, what?

All of that in just 10 minutes? Yep and this is how it’s going to go down.

This is our in house sport scientists’ warm up routine and we are going to explain it to you in his words.

When it comes to warming up I use the same sequence of exercises for myself and my athletes. It’s actually quite simple, perform each movement for 20 seconds and rest for 20 second, for a total of 3 rounds

Here are the list of exercises:

  • 5m toe walks-heel walks (Arms raised directly above your head)
  • Walking lunges with torso twists
  • Walking Supermans
  • Frog squats
  • Hamstring walks/squats

5 exercises done for 20 seconds on and 20s off for a total of 3 rounds will tally up to a final time stamp of 9 minutes and 40 seconds (there is an extra 20 seconds in there for you to catch your breath).

These exercises are the ideal combination of movements that both activate and mobilise all the muscles and joints you will be using during your run.

Should you do a cool down?

Should you cool down after running a 5K

Okay, so we’ve covered the warm up exercises before running.

What about after your run?

If there is a specific pre-race warm up surely there should be a set of cool down exercises.

Well, not necessarily, because everyone ultimately has their own specific preference of how they cool down after a race. Some people do cryotherapy or self myofascial release (foam rolling).

While some people do compression machines or lower body massage and some of you would just love an ice cold drink at the finish line. 

Scientific research indicates that the easiest and most cost effective method to cool down is static stretching. As we mentioned earlier dynamic stretches are better before your run, but static stretches are a perfect way to cool down after your race.

They are easy to do, they can be performed almost anywhere and they don’t cost you a cent. They might taste as nice as a cold brew but they get the job done.

Summary

When it’s all said and done, how you warm up and cool down is completely down to your own personal preference. Whether you do a 10 minute running warm up or just start running after the gun sounds off.

How and what you do is completely up to you.

However, we do advise you incorporate both a warm up and cool down into your pre and post race routine. Having a specific pre-race warm up will also aid in your mental preparation before your event, increasing your odds of performing well.

Similarly having a thorough post run cool down protocol can significantly aid in injury prevention which will be ensuring the longevity of your running career.

But at the end of the day it’s actually very simple, when it comes to the ideal warm up before running a 5km…

Just move a little before to get the heart rate up and stretch a little after to get the muscles to relax. Do that and everything will be ay-okay!

FAQs

Are Warmups Necessary?

No. But they are highly recommended. Warm ups prepare your body for the stresses of running for a prolonged period of time and prevent injuries or chronic overuse conditions such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis.

What happens if you don't warm up before running?

You increase your chances of getting injured significantly.

How long before a race should you warm up?

Typically 5-10 minutes before you start the race. Minimum 3 minutes and maximum 12-15 minutes.

Does warm up improve performance?

Yes. Warming up improves both mental and physical performance by getting your mind and body race ready.

 

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How to Increase Running Stamina

How to Improve Running Stamina for Beginner

When I started running few years ago to keep myself fit I used to comfortably run for 2-3 Km without stopping. But I really wanted to hit that 10K mark as soon as I can. So as a beginner I searched the entire web to find my answer on how to increase my running stamina to hit 10K.

There was a lot of information on various websites but none of them was useful for someone like me who was an absolute beginner when it comes to running.

So I thought to include this post for beginners to really understand and implement an easy way to increase their running stamina.

What you will learn in this article

> What is stamina (Endurance) and how to increase your running endurance

> How to increase running stamina as a beginner

> How to increase your stamina to run a 10K

> How to increase running stamina in a short time

> Foods to increase stamina

> FAQs

What is Stamina and how do I increase mine to run longer?

To paraphrase the official definition: stamina is your ability to, both physically and mentally, endure stressful effort or physical activity for a prolonged period of time.

The keyword in this definition is endure or endurance. It’s a term that we’ve all heard somewhere along our running journey.

Phrases like: “Hey bro, you need to improve your endurance” or “It’s because you lack endurance that you’re struggling” comes to mind.

However the truth is, most runners use this term far too casually.

Because endurance in terms of running relates to two separate but interrelated concepts: 

Types of Endurance

Mental Endurance

Mental endurance or resilience is a fairly straightforward concept to understand, as it’s how well an athlete can endure psychological stress and or pressure before, during or after a sporting event.

In simple words Mental endurance is your ability as a runner to self-motivate in order to push yourself to perform better for a longer period or distance, despite wanting to give up.

Now despite mental endurance being the psychological aspect of running, it goes hand in hand with the physical side of things.

And here is where things get a bit technical, so let me simplify the these technical “sport-sciency” things for you.

Physical Endurance

Physical endurance relates to two components of physiology:

  1. Cardiovascular or cardiorespiratory endurance/fitness (CVF/CRF)
  2. Neuromuscular endurance

What is Cardiovascular endurance?

The cardiovascular endurance is essentially an indicator of how fit and healthy you are. It is the level of efficiency at which your heart, lungs and muscles can work together while you are exercising, in your case running, for a prolonged period of time. 

So to simplify, the higher your level of cardiovascular endurance the easier it will be for your heart and lungs to pump oxygen rich blood to your muscles.

Meaning you will be able to breathe easier and not feel as winded during your run. i.e – Increasing your stamina during your run. 

However, the cardiovascular system works hand in hand with your muscles…

What is Neuromuscular Endurance?

In simple terms, Neuromuscular endurance is the ability of your muscles or specific muscle groups (Leg muscles and our core during running) to perform physical activity without fatiguing.

Now in running terms this simply refers to how long you can run before your muscles cramp up or go into spasm due to exhaustion. 

Together cardiovascular and muscular endurance form the basis of a well known concept called VO2max. In a nutshell, your VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise.

Meaning the higher this value is, the more endurance you are likely to have as a runner. So if you improve your VO2max you definitely will have an improved stamina or endurance. 

The good thing is that both cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance can be trained and improved, especially if you are a beginner. Let me tell you how…

How to increase running stamina as a beginner

In the exercise world there is a very popular concept called the FITT principle. 

FITT stands for:

  • Frequency (How often do you train e.g. 3 times per week)
  • Intensity (How hard/intense is your training)
  • Type (What type of training do you do e.g. Sprints or Interval training)
  • Time (How long do you train for per session)

Now as a beginner, this is the perfect template to follow to increase your stamina for running. If you can break it down and tick all of the above categories you will be covering all your bases.

Not making sense to you?

Let me explain, say for example you run 1 km every morning. And then one day you decide to double up on your usual distance and attempt a 2 km run. For the first 1 km you are doing okay but then you start to fade as fatigue sets in and you bomb out at around the 1.5 km mark. 

Your lack of fitness and ultimately your lack of stamina is the reason you couldn’t make it to the 2 km mark.

Now if you simply were to apply the F.I.T.T principle as follows: 

  1. Increasing your weekly runs from 1 to 3 (frequency)
  2. Ensure you maintain an average heart rate of 160 BPM (intensity) during your session
  3. Run a combination of sprint-jog intervals (type) of 200m on and 200m off for a total training (time) of 45 minutes.

You will increase your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance therefore increasing your overall stamina.

Now yes, this is just an example, but as a beginner we recommend using the F.I.T.T principle as a guideline to plan your running training sessions. Why?

  • It’s simple to understand
  • Easy to implement
  • It’s customizable to your specific training environment and needs

Just remember, the most important thing you need as a beginner is structure and a plan, and with this principle you get both.

Incase you are an intermediate runner which means you regularly have your 5K runs, 3-5 times per week.

And you want to increase your stamina in order to run 10K, I have a practical solution for you.

How to increase stamina for running 10K

How to improve stamina in a short time

If you are an intermediate runner and let’s suppose that the furthest you’ve run is more or less 7.5 km and you would really like to increase your stamina in order to hit that 10k mark. 

Well, the F.I.T.T principle still applies here but we will need to add two more factors to the equation. 

  • Total volume and;
  • Distance

Let’s start with the first point, total volume refers to the total amount of kilometers you run in a training cycle for example, a 7 day week.

So if you did a 2km run on Monday and a 3km on Wednesday and then you finished the week off with a 6km run on Saturday. That brings your total volume for the training cycle to 11km for the week. Make sense?

And now for the second point, distance is basically a colloquial term for long runs.

Once in every training cycle you would need to include a long run. A long run is a training session where you run for 25% of your total weekly volume in one session. It is usually done at 50% of your maximum pace in order to prevent a burn out.

To simplify, if the total distance you run for the week is 50km. So your long run would then be around 12.5km (25%). 

The rationale behind these two concepts is based on the old saying that you need to get “kilos under your feet”.

But the more technical term for this is muscle memory.

By running more total kilometers in a week (including individual longer runs) more frequently, you will condition both your cardiovascular and neuromuscular system for the stresses of running longer distances at a higher intensity. 

In other words, you will increase your stamina for running 10k!

How to increase stamina in a short time

Okay, so let’s say you’re scrolling social media and you see a post by an awesome blog (like Runaddiction haha) for an upcoming charity fun run for homeless puppies.

Now you love running and you love puppies so of course you’re going to enter, right? But then you see the event date… It’s in TWO WEEKS! 

How the heck are you going to prepare for a 10k run in just two weeks?

Well training and getting race-ready in just two weeks is not impossible but it’s going to take some discipline and a few days of hard work. 

So here are 5 tips for increasing stamina in a short time

Have a plan and track your runs

By plan we mean you need a program set out for the time frame that you will be training. This program should be very specific and should include a progressive overload as well as tapering lead up to the event.

Now in terms of keeping track, this is of vital importance to see if you’re in fact progressing. The easiest way to do this is with the help of a smartwatch or a fitness tracker.

Train Enough

A good number you need to be aiming for is to train for at least 80% of the time frame you have leading up to the run. So if you have 14 days to prepare for your run, you need to train for 11 days and rest a total of 3 days.

Recovery is your secret weapon

When trying to increase stamina in a short turn around period it’s very easy to overtrain and bomb out on race day. That is why having ample recovery days at strategic time slots during your training cycle is of vital importance. You see rest days might seem counterintuitive but trust us, they are your secret weapon in increasing your stamina in a short time period.  

Increase your intensity

Unfortunately there is no way around this, if you want to increase your stamina in a short period of time you are going to have to train harder. It is as simple as that.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to go and run yourself into the ground (refer to #2 and #3 points above). But you will need to exercise at a level that’s above your usual intensity. Again the easiest way to do this is to keep track with a smartwatch to make sure you are training in the correct heart rate zones.

Eat Right Foods

Food is Fuel!

Now this is a topic that is so misleading nowadays. The majority of people are focused on looking aesthetically pleasing and their diets reflect that as they end up being very restrictive.

These rules don’t apply to our kind. I mean we are basically professional athletes (haha).

But jokes aside, as a runner particularly a runner trying to increase their running stamina, food is your fuel source to great performance. Without it, everything else is meaningless! 

Which Foods to eat for increasing running stamina

Running nutrition is one of the most studied topics in the world of sport science. We are going to simplify this in a manner that is far easier for you guys to understand and ultimately implement into your daily routines.

Okay so when it comes to increasing stamina food plays an absolute critical role. How you fuel your body, in terms of quality, will directly determine how well you end up performing during your run.

Think about it like this, if you were a car, food would be your fuel. So what do you think will happen if you were to fill up your petrol car with diesel fuel?

It will almost certainly break down. And that’s exactly what happens when you unhealthy meals as a runner.

That being said, when it comes to specific types of foods there are a few lists online highlighting the best foods to eat for running.

The only problem with lists like those is that they are a bit broad and don’t factor in personal dietary restrictions or training goals.

When it comes to eating for stamina, unless you’re on a ketogenic diet or you are a vegan, carbohydrates (including certain sugars) and good quality protein is the way to go. 

These foods that will help you to increase your Running Stamina:

  • Lean meats (Chicken, turkey, fish)
  • Complex carbs (Sweet potatoes, oatmeal, raspberries, black beans, Chickpeas)
  • Clean simple sugars (Maltodextrin or Dextrose for Pro Athletes)
  • Fibrous and nutrient rich fruits (Bananas, Apple, Cucumber, Spinach, Carrots or broccoli)
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Granola/Muesli
  • Dark chocolates

These examples are for before, during and after your run. Carbohydrates are ideal for before and during your runs as you will be running at a higher intensity so you will need the glucose to fuel your muscles.

Banana is a great example of a food you can eat before and during your runs.

Proteins in lean meats prevent muscle breakdown and also help maintain amino acid levels in your system, this will significantly help you recover.

While the few healthy fat sources help maintain a hormonal balance in your body. 

This will help keep your body in good shape during your rigorous training sessions.

Now when it comes to the best foods for runners we always preach the concept of keeping it simple. Everyone is different in terms of dietary restrictions, whether that is medical, religious or just personal preferences.

So try and incorporate foods that fit into your budget and your lifestyle.

Remember, by keeping it simple and not straying too far off the beaten path your chances of staying on track with your diet increases significantly.

So to summarize, in order to increase your stamina you will need to improve your endurance by raising your overall fitness level. 

You can do this by:

  • Applying the F.I.T.T. principle to your training. 
  • Adding in extra distance and increasing the total volume per week.
  • Eating the correct foods at the correct times will greatly improve your performances.
  • And don’t forget to rest, it’s your secret weapon.

Summary

So how do you increase your stamina for running? Training harder more frequently, eating the right foods regularly and resting well is the blueprint to gain more stamina and crush your next run.

Keep running!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What to eat to increase stamina for running?

You can eat carbohydrates before and during running to help with endurance. Protein after the run to aid in recovery.

How to increase stamina for running fast?

Is it possible to increase running stamina in one day?

No, physiological changes in your body such as cardiovascular endurance will need at least 7 days to increase your stamina.

Does running increase stamina in bed?

Yes, Indirectly. Increased running stamina improves physical fitness, which may translate into other activities such as intercourse and time in bed.

How long do I have to wait after eating to run?

You should wait for at least 30 to 60 minutes after eating before going for a run.

Are there any supplements or stamina tablets for running?

Yes, Supplements such as Protein, Beta-alanine, BCAAs and Creatinine can significantly improve stamina for running longer periods of time.

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Can I use Pre-workout before a Run?

Can I take pre-workout before a run?

So there I am prepping for my evening workout, I feel a little sluggish and so I decided to take a little pre-workout before I hit the weights. And that is when my colleague turned to me and asked: “Can I use pre-workout before a run?” 

And I froze, and kind of went silent, because I realized that the answer to this question may trigger several other questions in his mind like these:

1. What is a pre-workout? And when should you use it?

2. Why would you want to use pre-workout supplementation before running?

3. What are the Pros and Cons of taking a pre-workout supplement before a run?

4. Does pre-workout increase heart rate?

5. Should you use pre-workout as a runner? 

So it got us thinking, could you use pre-workout supplementation for workouts other than just lifting weights? A pre-workout for running or before doing a cardio perhaps?

Lets dig a bit deeper to understand what is a pre-workout…

What is a Pre-workout? And when should you use it?

Well the formal definition for pre-workout is that it’s a multi-ingredient dietary supplement designed to boost energy and athletic performance. 

Despite the fact that there is no single set list of ingredients, the majority of pre-workouts usually contain a few, if not all, of the following substances

  • Caffeine
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
  • Vitamin-B
  • Creatinine and nitric oxide precursors

These pre-workout supplements are usually sold in pill or powder form and taken with some water roughly 15-20 minutes before your workout. 

Now I know that might have been a mouth full, but bear with us as we breakdown how pre-workout is not all that complicated or intimidating as we once believed it to be.

So that brings us to the next question:

Why would you want to use pre-workout supplementation before running? 

Well, to be completely honest that is almost entirely subjective to the person using it. 

That’s because the effect these ingredients have on your body and your performance depends on a few factors:

  • Individual tolerance to stimulants such as caffeine or ginseng. If you are a regular coffee drinker you would more than likely respond differently to someone who doesn’t consume any caffeine.
  • Individual level of fitness and experience. It has been scientifically proven that the “fitter” you are the harder it is to increase your overall fitness level. 
  • The type of workout you will be doing. The effect you will experience as a weightlifter for example will be almost entirely different to that of someone going for a long run or doing other forms of cardio. 

But does that mean that a professional runner will have a better experience with a pre-workout supplement than a recreational one? 

Not necessarily, ultimately that would depend on the specific pre-workout supplement and its individual dosage and quality of each ingredient. 

Luckily for you, there are thousands of products on the market that quite literally cater to every individuals specific needs. But more on that a bit later… 

Advantages of taking pre-workout supplements before Running

Just like anything in life, pre-workout supplements have both positive and negative attributes.

Let’s kick off with some of the positive effects you can expect to see when using a pre-workout for running: 

In short, a runner using pre-workout will be able to run for longer and he or she will feel like it takes less effort to do so.

And now for the not so fun side of pre-workout supplementation. Some of the most common side effects include:

Disadvantages of taking pre-workout supplements before Running

  • It can increase your heart rate above normal levels causing you to feel jittery or extremely anxious and uneasy.
  • It may cause digestive issues such as runner’s diarrhea
  • It can lead to exhaustion or dehydration when used in the absence of a proper pre-run meal. 

Now I know that all sounds horrific, especially the diarrhea part! But we are also aware that many of you runners out there are concerned with the first side effect mentioned above. So we’ll elaborate a bit more in depth on this…

Does pre-workout increase heart rate?

The answer is Yes and No…

Yes, an elevated heart rate is caused by the stimulants used in pre-workout supplements.

Stimulants such as caffeine, caffeine anhydrous or yerba mate mimic an almost pseudo-adrenaline-like reaction in your body (It makes your heart pump faster and harder).

This causes your heart rate to spike above normal and may leave you feeling jittery and anxious during your run or when you take pre-workout before a cardio session.

But No, not all pre-workouts have stimulants in their formulations. So as we mentioned earlier, the effects both good and bad, all depend on the specific pre-workout supplement and the type of the ingredients it contains.

Thankfully with the huge variety of pre-workout products and brands on the market today, you can literally find your perfect match.

Extra caffeine or zero caffeine, carbohydrate based or Ketogenic pre-workouts supplements. Whatever your preference, there is a product out there for you.


So should you use pre-workout as a runner? 

Honestly, it is completely up to you…

If you’re training for a triathlon or a marathon and you need something to help get you through your 16 hour training days, then you should definitely consider getting your hands on some pre-workout.

But if you’re a complete newbie runner who has just started the journey towards running your first 10K? You might be better off building up your fitness before thinking about using any pre-workout supplements.

Nonetheless, taking pre-workout can be beneficial and ultimately improve your workout sessions. Whether it is a long run or just some extra cardio sessions during the week.

Supplementing with the right pre-workout that has the formula that works best for you and your needs can result in some awesome athletic performances.

Summary

To summarize, pre-workout is basically a dietary supplement that gives you more physical and perceived energy during your run.

So runners using pre-workout will be able to run faster, for longer and have a sort of mental resilience to push through their workout. How you respond to it depends on your fitness levels, experience and training regime.

But that being said, wherever you might be in your running journey we believe that having a pre-workout on hand is the perfect trump card for those days where you need a little kick up your backside to get across the finish line.

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