How I discovered the Extended Warmup at the beach by accident:
It’s here! The most relaxing week of the year – Beach Week! I’m chillin’ in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with extended family – there are 18 of us in a gi-normous house. Sun, surf, food, family, and (of course) running! We are a family of runners.
I started tagging along on morning OBX runs with my marathon-runner-Dad when I was in high school. I was not a “runner” yet. I played softball and basketball and would run by myself occasionally to “keep in shape”. Dad, on the other hand, is a former college cross-country/track star and had double-digit marathons under his belt, including the Boston Marathon. Needless to say, he took it easy on me. Which is why, years later, I took it easy on HIM.
In 2008 Dad was recovering from knee surgery and just starting to get back to “yogging” (Anchorman, anyone?). I, on the other hand, had recently found my stride with triathlon training. I had incorporated track workouts into my routine and increased my weekly mileage big time. The tables had turned! We started out each morning together. I no longer struggled to keep pace. Dad was up to about 30-40 minutes of running at a time, and the first day we ran those 30 minutes together. Slooooowly. The heat was oppressive and the air was thick with humidity, but I felt awesome. The next day, Dad and I started out together at the same easy pace as the day before. Dad turned around after his scheduled 20 minutes out, but I kept going. Then something happened. Something miraculous. It was like I was underwater in the deep ocean, expecting to drown, but then suddenly sprouted gills and fins (a la Harry Potter’s gillyweed) and could breathe and swim like a fish. My lungs felt twice as big and my legs felt light and strong. I ran forever and never tired. Ok, not really forever… but I went for a solid 2 hours with no fatigue. This was unheard of. By going at a super-easy pace for 20 minutes, I was able to go 100 MORE minutes faster and easier than I thought possible. I found my Extended Warmup.
This still works for me on long runs. If I start the first 15-20 minutes about 2 minutes per mile slower than my normal pace, I’m able to go for longer miles and feel better. Now, when I run 5ks, my sister (Hi Caroline!) will make fun of me for “warming up” for longer than it takes me to race! There’s something about getting the lungs and heart to catch up to the legs that really works for me – and it can take different amounts of time on different days. There are days when I will not do a long warmup and feel “fine” but other days I’d be screwed without warming up slowly and long. Thanks to Dad’s bum knee I was able to discover this trick. I would not have had the patience to try it out on my own…. I’m telling you – TRY IT and your long run will ROCK.