3 Indicators You Don’t Warm Up Well When Training 

Last night saw the first full moon of winter. Today the temperature has dropped to single digits and there’s a bitterly easterly breeze blowing. “Winter is here”, as Game of Thrones would say and so is winter outdoor training. For most sports, this means the long hard slog of off-season or pre-season training has begun. Creating a base of fitness can be difficult at the best of times and it’s made even worse in the bitterly cold. The cold adds another dimension to training, it starts us off from a lower base of readiness and so we need more time to get up to the pace of the session. This means we’re more susceptible to a poor quality warm up. A poor warm up increases our risk of injury and reduces our performance in our session. But how do we know if we are warming up well?  
Here are 3 indicators of a poor warm up. 
1. You are out of breath during the early phase of the warm up. 
Breathlessness early on in your warm up is indicative that you haven’t warmed up your lungs efficiently. Warming your lungs up is the very first part of a warm up session. It has a higher priority than joint mobility, cardiovascular warm up and strength training. 
‘Why?’ You might ask. 
Because without quality oxygen being extracted from the air into your blood and then on into your cells nothing else in your body works well. Your cardiovascular system is put under greater pressure, your joints find it more difficult to move and your power output is decreased. 
The first sign of breathlessness is mouth breathing. If you mouth breathe during your warm up, you are ventilating your body or cooling it down – quite the opposite of what you want to achieve. This means we should be nasal only breathing during a warm up (or using Vent Level 1 as I like to call it). 
Inhaling air through the nose prepares the air for your lungs to do their work. It warms the air and filters it. Increased dilation of your airways and the blood vessels supporting your lungs are also enhanced with nasal inhalation. Finally, your primary breathing muscle – the diaphragm – is innervated 20% better when using the nose to inhale as opposed to the mouth. 
Exhaling through your nose is equally important as inhaling through it. Nasal exhalation regulates CO2 levels in your system which, in turn, delivers more oxygen to your cells. It also regulates heat and lactate production better than mouth breathing. And, once adapted, it spares glycogen stores, which means you use your energy more wisely throughout your session. 
Not bad benefits for just switching your vent, eh? 
2. You’re constantly blowing your nose. 
Mucus production is a sign that you are exhaling too much CO2 from your body. As you mouth breathe, particularly when warming up, the nose becomes stuffed/runny as a means to block your nose and regulate your training pace. Your body is essentially telling you to slow down the pace and take your time to up-regulate your system for training. 
The quickest way to warm up your body is to nose breathe only when warming up (at least in the early and middle phase of the warm up). That way you regulate your pace without having to think about it and you can focus on warming up your other systems concurrently. 
3. You need to get a second wind. 
It is normal to see athletes get a second wind 10-15 minutes into their training session. Normal is not necessarily natural though. The second wind phenomena is described by people as ‘having a weight lifted off my chest’, ‘getting a sudden burst of energy’ or ‘feeling like I can breathe fully and deeply’. 
The Second Wind means you didn’t warm up sufficiently for the pace of the day’s session. People make one of two mistakes when they need to get a second wind. 
a. They were mouth breathing during most of the warm up and didn’t warm their lungs up specifically. 
b. There was a gap between the pace of the warm up and the pace of the session. Ie. their warm up wasn’t intense enough. 
The solution to this one is simple. Follow the guidance in the first two points – use Vent Level 1 (nose only breathing) to warm up and increase the pace of the warm to the same pace as the training session or even slightly greater. 
So you have to build yourself slowly and then push yourself hard at the end of the warm up for a very short period of time. All that’s left to do then is to recover your breath in advance of the workload to come in the session and you’re good to go from a breathing perspective. No more second wind, no more blowing your nose, no more breathlessness and one improved warm up session. Just remember, that you may need to spend more time warming up on a cold winter’s night than you do on a hot summer’s day. 
Tagged as: Sport
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