Have you ever had a coach or someone you respected tell you that you should warm up before a workout? And let’s be honest for a minute- how many times did you nod your head in agreement at their explanations and recommendations about warming up and then proceed to almost never follow that advice? I know warming up (and cooling down) has been a hard one for me over the years. And I’m not really sure why.
Now many of you reading this will actually have some legitimate time constraints on your work out time. You are married (that requires time), you have kids (that requires time), you have a full-time job (that requires time), and you may even have some passions in life that are not any of those things (which will, of course, require time). All of that can add up to not really feeling like you have a lot of time left over for your exercise. And even the concept of exercise is only a thing that makes sense in our largely sedentary culture.
But the sedentary nature of our culture is one of the main reasons we can benefit from warming up (and of course cooling down). When we sleep, and then rise to walk tens of feet to open a refrigerator and then sit in a chair and then walk tens of feet again to our car and then sit in another chair for at least eight hours and then walk tens of feet again to our car where we sit while driving to go back home or to a trailhead to sneak in a run in our busy schedule and then sit some more before we go back to sleep… well, in light of that sort of “activity” it becomes less surprising that we could benefit from warming up before a run (or any other workout).
It also becomes less surprising that a workout can make us feel so good as long as we don’t hurt ourselves. And not hurting ourselves is why we usually get told to warm up before our workout. I don’t think I really need to make the argument that moving more for a person who is largely sedentary is going to be good for you and make you feel better in the long run. I think I do need to make a gentle reminder to myself (and perhaps some of you lovely readers as well) that if we sit all day and sleep all night it might behoove us to ease into our workouts and not expect our bodies (which are amazing) to go from a full stop to a full sprint (metaphorically or literally) without first doing a little something to “prime the pump” for our more strenuous movement, as it were.
Now there are lots of different warmups to be had and we all have different bodies with different experiences that might currently prefer one sort of warmup over another. I like the twenty-seven squats I learned from Kelly Starrett. I know many of you I have talked to will jump rope a little before you get going. And we just cannot forget that a warmup could be as simple as a five minute walk before your run. I think, though, that the most important thing is to convince (or remind) ourselves that we need to make time for the warmup. We can always experiment with different options. And a good coach may tailor a warmup to the individual based on what their strengths, weaknesses, and lifestyle are like. But let’s just remember that all of that will be for naught if we do not actually put it into practice on a regular basis. We need to warm up.
So to all the coaches, mentors, and friends who have told me I should warm ups let me publicly say I am sorry for all the times I did not listen to you. I know many of you would say it’s really my own body that I should apologize to and trust me, I believe you now. But as wiser people than me have said (in much more eloquent ways) when you make a mistake and have to start again you are not starting from scratch, you are starting from experience (and if anyone could tell me what quote I am butchering I would be more than happy to give credit where credit is due). I promise (and exhort all of you) to make my warmups a priority. Be well everybody.