Coach Tip of the Week: Warm Up & Cool Down, Mindfully

Monday… Time for a Coach Tip o’ the Week! I’m pulling from 25 years in endurance sports so you think I could be more consistent! Anyway, here’s a good one for you:
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WARM UP & COOL DOWN, MINDFULLY
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Back in February, 2002, I was studying Dr. Phil Maffetone’s book, “Training for Endurance.” I highlighted the following paragraph:
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“Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you don’t feel like you’re getting much of a workout that the warm-up and cool-down doesn’t count as part of it. Tremendous health benefits are obtained through these aspects of your program. An over-trained athlete has arrived in that state because of a lack of warming up and cooling down. Nagging injuries sometimes disappear when a long enough warm-up precedes the workout. Even racing is improved when the body is properly warmed.”
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I’ve internalized the importance of these two practices, especially the warm-up, especially at an older running-age! I often say to athletes, “let the workout come to you,” or as some Kenyan runners like to say, “wait for the body to give you that green light.” And on countless occasions, when I’m questioning whether I should be running when something hurts, I just extend my warm-up, mindfully finesse my way through the session, and voila!, the issue I was worrying about vanishes (well, sometimes). Consistency with running frequency tends to keep everything feeling quite good; shorter sessions more often is better than longer sessions less frequently.
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These days I often take the dog for a walk before heading out on a run, since walking is a great warm-up activity. And if I’m racing (remember racing?!) then the warm-up takes center stage; the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up! For a 10k turkey-trot, for example, I like to get about an hour warm-up before blasting off the start-line. The first 30min of that warm-up is easy. Then, once warm, I’ll throw in some bursts of intensity at increasing intervals, up to race intensity—let the body (and mind) know what’s about to go down. After that, it’s to the line, where I’ll usually top off my warm-up with 100 calories or so. Contrast that with racing 100 miles, where I won’t really warm-up at all; because that’s the purpose of the first 30 miles of the race itself!
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Give yourself permission to extend your warm-up and cool-down. One trick I use to promote this healthy habit is to delay starting my watch so it doesn’t capture the walking part of my warm-up. I walk until I FEEL like running. Then, on the other side, turn off your watch at the end of the run so that you can do a walking cool-down and it won’t affect your run’s average pace. Win-win situation! You’ve conducted an effective warm-up and cool-down AND you’ve captured all the running in the middle. Nice job!
Get warm before you blast off but also remember to cool your jets.
Coach

 

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