Think of your body as a car. Putting the pedal to the metal right from the start will hurt the engine, and you’ll eventually end up in the repair shop. Here’s how to take good care of your body before and after a run.
1. Take your time
Working out is not just about charging in and going at it full-on. You need to take time to rest your mind and focus on the workout that lies ahead. So set aside plenty of time to warm up, exercise and cool down.
2. Go slow
Warming up is extremely underrated. I see so many people going from standing still to flying down the track, and it makes me shake my head. Try thinking of your muscles as students: You need to tell them what to expect in the exam so they can prepare for it.
3. Come up with a ritual
Athletes love rituals and so should you. I recommend stretching your lower back, your quads and then your hamstrings, but any pattern you feel comfortable with is fine. Make sure you repeat it before each and every run. It will become natural, and your body will get used to the thought that there’s a run coming up.
4. Stay flexible
I know this one sounds bit odd, but anything that helps you gain flexibility will make you a better athlete. Flexible muscles can move more freely, and you’ll gain a better range of movement. Try a little stretch here and there during your day.
5. Cool down
Cooling down properly is as important as warming up. Your body needs to know that work is over, and that it can ease back into recovery mode. Allow yourself a few minutes after you’re done running, walk a few steps and pat yourself on the shoulder: Well done, another training run checked off!
Colin Jackson (48) is the International Sports Director of the Wings for Life World Run and two-time 110m hurdles world champion.
Astrid Kaltenböck, Local winner in Brazil 2015 and Verona 2014
Pauly Plewa, Niagara Falls, 2015
Catcher Car driver, Adolfo Aguilar in Lima, Peru
Lemawork Ketema, Global Champion 2014 and 2015
Daniel Ricciardo, Race number 1 and Formula 1 driver