Kortuk and I were reading a blog post from Sweat Science that argues we should do harder warm-ups, because they increase our performance.
It turns out there’s plenty of physiology behind this. If you suddenly start running at a hard pace, with no warm-up, it takes a while before your body can adjust to start delivering oxygen to your muscles at its maximum possible rate. That’s one of the reasons VO2max tests take 10-12 minutes, rather than simply involving a short, all-out sprint. It takes time for the blood flow to your muscles to increase, and for the enzymes that extract oxygen from the blood and oxidize fuel to ramp up their activity levels. A good warm-up gets this ramp-up process over with, allowing your body up to deliver more oxygen to muscles right from the start of the workout or race, and reducing the temporary oxygen debt.
However, there's a delicate balance between increasing your activity levels and depleting your anaerobic energy stores and metabolite build up. In contrast, my MiCoach training program always has a 5 minute gentle jogging warm-up. So clearly, there's some disagreement about what I should be doing.
As I'm doing a marathon training program it feels awkward to me to 'waste' so much energy at the start of my workout. But on my 30 minute workouts, a 5 minute intensive warm-up might ensure a more pleasant 20-25 minutes workout afterwards. My hypothesis would be that its mainly important before races or interval training, where higher activity levels from the start will mean you get a head start compared to still having to warm-up.
So should I switch from a gentle warm-up to a more intensive warm-up? Will it make every workout more pleasant or is it better suited for higher performance/interval workouts?