Warm-Up & Cool-Down for Runners

From my own experience I know that very often small yet very important elements of the training session structure, that is, the beginning, which is called warm-up, and the end, which is called cool-down, are ignored and neglected by majority of runners. Reasons (or we may say ‘excuses’) given for this are always numerous: from efforts to save time to just admitting plain neglect. In general, the attitude towards those parts of the training session is as if neither carry any significance so why bother. That’s a mistake. But then again, it’s only a matter of personal responsibility. If you think you don’t owe it to yourself to do things the right way and not the lazy way, then what can I say.

The Warm-Up

So, what kind of role does the warm-up play in the training session? The answer is obvious – to warm-up the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and, here’s the part that not many consider- to prepare the nervous and cardiorespiratory systems for the specific workout. Normally an athlete would spend (depending on the upcoming workout, outside temperature and his/her own body condition) somewhere between 5 to 30 min on this task.

Warm-up should consist of all blocks of preparation:

  • biomechanical
  • physiological
  • psychological
  • mental and
  • spiritual

In Pose Method we use specific running technique drills to get the body into the right biomechanical structure of movement. Those drills also serve as a psychological and mental tune-up for the upcoming workout. Be mindful when following this progression. All these parts should be performed on a conscious level with an understanding of why we are doing it. It is foolish to train, or do anything for that matter, under the assumption that mindless motions of doing something will give you the results you’re looking for.

If you normally train by yourself and run alone, simply make sure to structure your sessions so you cover the above mentioned aspects. However if you train in a group and/or do group running sessions, make sure to set time aside for yourself to maximize your results. You can (emphasis on can) manage your busy schedule, keep your group runs and enjoy the social aspect of running. A little bit of effort and discipline goes a long way.

Here’s a good warm-up set of drills and exercises for a session that can become your regular practice. To put together a more extensive session, refer to the vast collection available in the original book The Pose Method of Running if you have it, and the Beginner’s Guide to Pose Running resource.

Key points:

  1. Warm-up is about getting ready for the training session
  2. Make it simple, quick but get your mind into it completely.
  3. Emphasis on drills and elasticity exercises.

We should not do flexibility exercises in the warm-up part of the training session too often. That should be mostly saved for after the workout, for the cool-down part of the training session or for a separate training session altogether. But sometimes it is needed in which case make sure to do a warm-up flexibility routine before the actual warm-up and always keep your focus on moving your joints instead of stretching your muscles. Intentionally stretching your muscles is not a good idea. Muscles will do what they need to do when you focus on simply bending your joints. Correct intent and focus produce correct outcome.

The Cool-Down

The cool-down part of the training session has its own specific role as the process that should return your body to its normal condition, including its biomechanical, physiological, psychological, mental and spiritual conditions. When your training is done, it is very important to return all the “blocks” and levels of the body to their norm. This means recovering muscle strength, relaxation, tone, your technique and coordination, and proper perception of movement, and of course your mental state, emotional and psychological conditions.

So, cool-down is a multidimensional set of exercises and should be treated as seriously as the main part of the training session. Time-wise this part is not time consuming similar to the warm-up, but it could be a little longer if needed, because returning to the norm could be a more demanding process than getting going. There are more chances here to lose technique, perception, proper muscle condition and mental focus. So it’s a good idea to give more time to this part of your training session.

In the Pose Method we, again, use special running drills for cool-down with the purpose of recovering the specific conditions related to running technique and our focus should be on the main elements of running. But through these exercises we must also return our body’s strength condition, unless you want to wobble around on shaky legs for the next day or two. So, we additionally use special regimes of strength exercises to recover muscle tone & strength, tendon and ligament elasticity and coordination.

If the main workout was difficult with a load on the cardiorespiratory system, then we must use a light run (we are talking about a mile maximum for the majority of us) to recover these systems to the norm. Keep your eye on your form, just because it’s a light run to recover it does not mean you can drag your feet behind you.

Another thing to keep in mind about the cool-down is that it is not only the final part of your current training session, but it is also your preparation for the future training session, and that requires your mental and psychological focus and effort. Training is a non-stop process of moving from one training session to another.

Key points:

  1. Cool-down is about recovery
  2. Make it longer than warm-up
  3. Emphasis on strength exercises (lighter load, less reps)
  4. Wrap up with a flexibility routine (focus on moving your joints)

So, these seemingly simple parts of training, as you see, are not so simple at all, and they require your full attention and skill development, as any other part of your training. Start from this point and consciously build up your understanding of the deep meaning of these parts of your training process and it will take you to the next level of your training. I guarantee that. Enjoy this process of self-discovery and the newly found excitement that it will undoubtedly bring.


About the author(s)

Romanov Academy of Sport Science | WEBSITE | + ARTICLES

Dr. Nicholas Romanov is the developer of the Pose Method®. A passionate proponent of higher level of education in athletics, Dr. Romanov dedicated his entire career to sports education, scientific research and coaching. An Olympic Coach and a bestselling author, Dr. Romanov has taught on all continents and visited almost every country in the world.