Warm up/cool down for longer distances - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Warm up/cool down for longer distances


Hey gang! I'm always up for a bit of advice from my running family so I'd be happy to have you're thoughts on this little conundrum. From run 1 week 1 of C25K I've followed the 5 minute warm up/5 minute cool down walk and have continued this through my post graduation running life. I've completed 4 parkruns and have just set a new pb of 30:36 which is heading ever closer to the magic 30 minute 5k, all at a comfortable pace with no over the top effort and all following the original warm up/cool down advice. I've never had the slightest hint of an injury, my legs are always ready for my next run and mentally I've never been more determined to complete a task.

Here's the question - Over the next few weeks I may start to increase the distance, possibly trying for an eventual 10k, with that in mind should I change anything or follow the 'if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it' approach?

19 Replies

That's fine then. As you were 😃

I do longer warm ups as I am so slow get going, which is why I like longer runs 🙂 I walk miles to get home sometimes so that's my cool down sorted

These things aren't set in stone

lardofaleGraduate in reply to misswobble

Thanks for that. I guess it's a case of what works best for everyone individually. My cool down walk does tend to be longer depending on what route I take, I tend to make it up 'on the fly' and regularly end up in a different postcode area!


Not speaking from experience - but from what I've read on here and elsewhere - more stretching included in warm down seems to be a good thing. Something I'm trying to build in - as I'm shockingly inflexible!

lardofaleGraduate in reply to RunForestR

Thanks! I've never considered myself to be particularly bendy either!


Remember the 10% a week rule so that you make slow and steady progress. Do one longer run each week (rather than pushing forward on all three). Accept that your speed will probably need to decrease as you go further and find something to entertain you as you are out for longer. make sure that you take rest days and maybe sometimes two if your body tells you it's tired.

Oh, and enjoy yourself :)

lardofaleGraduate in reply to helenwheels

Thank you, good advice all round there! My musical entertainment might have to be better though out though as it tends to vary between 80s synth and modern speed metal which doesn't particularly help the pacing!

mrrunGraduate in reply to lardofale

Try not to pace yourself with music, that can go awry. I never follow the beat simply because I listen to what makes me feel good on the day and if a drummer pushes harder than my energy levels, then what?

Put it this way, I did 10K with Miles Davis, easy runs with Rammstein and tempo/intervals with Joni Mitchell with everything else (but pop) in between. Music for me is there to complement the overall vibe and not to dictate the tempo I feel to be able of doing ;)

Btw, nothing wrong with modern speed metal either :) Hell, no.

lardofaleGraduate in reply to mrrun

I agree with that, I started out by using music to mask my heavy breathing but now it's just a background concentration aid. I put it down to mental conditioning too, if I find myself trying to keep up with Napalm Death's drummer then I might be in a spot of bother!!

Hi, I always start the first few hundred metres slowly but when I plan to run for 5k plus I start very very slowly almost running on the spot for the first few metres. I do my usual stretches after the 5 min warm down and then again when I get home if I've driven or later in the day if I've started from home.

This seems to work for me, so far so good on the injury front.

Happy running!

lardofaleGraduate in reply to Wizziewood

Thank you, all valuable info, much appreciated :0)

mrrunGraduate in reply to lardofale

Oh, and for 10K, I do exactly what I do for 5K. 5 minutes or so of walking then start slow, build it up towards the end, and then run like a man possessed for the last km, if I can :)

Then walk again for another 5-10 minutes. I tend to do stretches on my rest days, and it works for me.

lardofaleGraduate in reply to mrrun

Thanks for the insight, good advice. I'll bare that in mind when I eventually go for the longer runs.


Put it this way, most people take 5-10 minutes to warm up properly, after they start running, (you know how long it takes you). So if you warm up for that length of time, with a gentle jog, before your parkrun, then you will be breathing steady and have lubricated joints from the off.

As for the next few months, the distance you intend to cover is irrelevant but winter weather, with much reduced temperatures does mean muscles take longer to warm up, so perhaps do some dynamic stretching before you leave the house.

lardofaleGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Thanks for the good advice, very much appreciated as always sir 👍 Very valid as I only started my running life in June so I've had no cold weather experience. I've seen your links in the past re stretching routines so I'll check those out.


Nice times, something I can only aspire to. Impressive stuff. :)

lardofaleGraduate in reply to Fishypieface

Thanks mam! The times tumble with time and conditioning. Boy oh boy have my thighs changed!! Anyhoo, its enjoyment & fitness rather than speed, we're not Mobots!! 😁👍

FishypiefaceGraduate in reply to lardofale

Haha! I'm still waitin' for my thighs to change! I won't hold my breath any time soon!

I never warm up for a run other than running the first 5-10 minutes more slowly as I find my pace. Likewise I never warm down afterwards. I do stretch. A lot. But seldom just after exercise. I know this goes contrary to the C25k rule book, and I do do all that stuff in my first 9 weeks but not now. I am not sure I have ever seen pro athletes warming down after races.

What works is king and if it helps you to do all that stuff,

then keep it up.it probably isn't mandatory though.

lardofaleGraduate in reply to Rignold

Thank you for this. I guess we all have our own way from experience but, as a relatively new kid on the block, I'm interested in different approaches especially from very experienced people such as your good self. Much appreciated

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