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Cap10K Countdown: Warm-ups are essential to a good run

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Gentle stretching is an important part of a post-race cool-down, as Kip Harris demonstrated after the 2011 Capitol 10,000.

If you've attended a race as a spectator, you've probably noticed participants running alongside the starting line, doing skips or jumping in the air. Perhaps you've wondered why they were burning crucial energy before the race. They were warming up, a practice that can be beneficial to you as you prepare for the Statesman Capitol 10,000 now just four weeks away, on Sunday, March 25. In our countdown this week, we look at the anatomy of a workout:

What is a good warm-up?

A warm-up can consist of as little as 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging before your main workout. It can be as elaborate as 1 to 2 miles of running followed by two or three specific drills and very light stretching. Easy jogging means running considerably slower than you plan to run in the workout or the race. A few drills that can benefit runners before a workout include high knees, skips and leg swings across the body and to the front and back of the body. These drills, when completed after a short warm-up that gets your heart pumping and your body slightly sweaty, can be a great way to loosen up.

What is a good cool-down?

Don't forget the cool-down. Cooling down after a hard run helps the body adjust back to its natural state. A cool-down can consist of a few minutes or a mile or two of easy jogging and some stretching. Some excellent stretches for runners after a run include the calf stretch on a curb, the quad stretch and a standing hamstring stretch done by either bending in half or putting one leg out in front of the other and moving your nose toward your knee.

What's next?

After a hard training run or the Capitol 10,000, be sure to get a nice, light, flushing massage. A massage tent will be available after the race, featuring experienced massage therapists who can help relieve muscle tightness and aid in post-race recovery. Before your treatment, be sure to stretch, eat, rehydrate and reflect on what you have just accomplished.

Look for more tips and facts next week. The finish line is getting closer!

— By Mercedes E. Orten, event coordinator