Should You Warm Up Before Running 5k? Warmup & Cool Down Exercises
Whether you are running a 5k, 10k, or half marathon. It is important to warm up correctly. Doing so will help you avoid injuries and help get the blood flowing before the start. It will also help your heart rate to rise, making the body handle the fast race starts much easier.
Doing the correct warm up before running 5k will leave you energized, warm, and feeling ready to go. But you can warm up too hard, which may be detrimental to your race. So, what is the right warm up before running a 5k?
In this article, we look at how you can best warm up before running 5k or a similar distance (3k and 10k).
Warm Up Before Running 5k – What Should You do?
Unfortunately, there are many versions of the so-called “right” way to warm up. However, each person requires a slightly different warm up before running 5k.
Most people have different levels of fitness which requires them to run at different speeds, so a slightly different warm up will be needed for the faster runners.
In general, a warm-up should consist of two main parts.
First, to get the muscles warm requires a short jog or run. This usually consists of anywhere from 10 minutes through to 20 minutes.
Secondly, is the part that raises the heart rate, makes you sweat, and opens up your stride length, which is the meat and bones of the warm-up. This part may include some stride-outs (accelerations) and running drills (depending on the runner’s background).
If you are planning to run your 5k slower than 25 minutes, I suggest you dedicate around 5-10 minutes before the start of the race. This 5-10 minutes should include some light jogging and nothing strenuous.
Alternatively, if you are running a 5k between 20-25 minutes, the warm up should include some accelerations. The main part of the should include 5 to 15 minutes of light running, followed by 5-8x100m stride outs (accelerations). These accelerations should have full recovery between, and the speed should be at or slightly faster than your race pace.
If you are running a 5k faster than 20 minutes, you will require a similar warm up. However, the stride-outs should be run a lot faster than race pace. This prepares your stride and heart rate for quicker starts. A good idea is to build throughout each 100m. Meaning every 20 meters the speed should increase. By the time you reach 100m, you should be around 80-90% effort.
Stretching Before Running – What Should You know?
Warming up for a 5k event requires some light running and some accelerations, but what about stretching before running a 5k?
Dynamic stretching is a great way to take the body through a range of motions similar to running. It can also be implemented after easy jog and accelerations, to give your body a more all-round warm up.
Some of the dynamic stretching before running that can be performed are:
Forward Lunges: From a standing position take a long step forward until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Your knee should be directly above your foot, with your other knee almost touching the ground behind you. From that position use the front foot to push yourself back to the starting position and switch sides.
Forward lunges are good to activate your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and calf muscles.
Side Lunges: Standing upright in the same position as the forward lunges. Then with the right foot, step to the side and push back with your hips. As you push back your hips bend your right knee until your right quadricep is parallel to the ground. Then push yourself back to the start position and switch sides.
Forward Leg Swings: Start by holding a signpost or a fellow runner’s shoulder. Stand up straight with your legs hip-width apart. While keeping one leg stationary, swing the opposite leg forward and backward. Start slow and increase the speed slightly. Do 10-15 repetitions on each leg.
There is a lot of debate about whether stretching before running works. However, we believe that implementing easy jogging, followed by stride-outs and dynamic stretching will give you the perfect warm up for a 5k, 10k, or half marathon.
Warmup and Cool down Exercises For Running
No matter the length you plan to run, it is a good idea to get into a routine of doing warmup and cool down exercises before and after running. Doing so will help keep the muscles supple, prepare you for hard workouts, and more importantly, keep you injury-free.
You can also pair this with foam rolling to really activate the muscles and increase the length of the muscle before exercise.
Just remember that the harder the run is, the more intense the warm up will need to be. So, trial different warm up routines by including dynamic stretching, light jogging, and accelerations. That will give you a good indication for your warm up before running a 5k or 10k event.
The cool down exercises however as slightly different than your warm up. A good warm down requires the body to slowly decrease its heart rate and body temperature. That means staying away from any intense efforts and implementing some light jogging and cool down stretches after running. These two combined are a good enough warm down routine for most people.
Cool Down Stretches After Running
Some of the best cool down stretches after running include:
1. Hip flexor stretch – hold for 10-15 seconds.
2. Thigh stretch – hold for 10-15 seconds.
3. Hamstring stretch – hold for 10-15 seconds.
4. Iliotibial band (ITB) stretch – hold for 10-15 seconds.
5. Calf stretch – hold for 10- 15 seconds.
6. Lower back stretch – hold for 15 seconds.