Couch to 5K
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Graduates, are you still doing your 5 minutes warm up walk and cool down?

I was short for time yesterday so took the bull by the horns and left the house and was running by the time I was out of the drive and across the road. I also ran back to my own front door. However having run 5K with no warm up/cool down I then found I had plenty of time so did some extra stretches. Today my legs are fine, so wondering if I now really need to do these warm up and cool down walks, what are your thoughts and advices on this topic please?

17 Replies

I don't do a five min warm up walk, just an easy jog. The only time I ran with my 7 time marathon running sis (week 8) she set out on an easy jog with me plaintively whining "how about the warm up walk!!!!).

I always have a few mins walking to cool down, sometimes a lot longer depending on how I have judged my run as I have to walk back to the car. I tend to take the car to the places I run, I dont run from home, I always take my dog, don't like to run him on a lead in case I trip, and he would be chasing neighbours cats if I let him loose near home!. I then stretch when I get home.


Thanks Deryn61, one of my neighbours is a jogger (serious, does 1/2 marathons and longer etc) he always leaves the house jogging and comes home jogging. He is however a heck of a lot younger than me. Don't want to start doing it and end up with an injury.


I do a notional warm up but it's nowhere near 5 mins, and about the same to warm down. I think the warm up helps when you're not used to exercise but when you are I doubt that 5 mins brisk walk will make a lot of difference.


I walk until I get past the houses and no-one can see me ;-) It usually takes less than 5 mins. My walk at the end is usually longer, I run with a friend and we like a gossip!!


You can run and talk at the same time, I'm impressed. Just puffing and panting from me so I jog alone :)


What sort of stretches do you do? I have just graduated but have never done any stretches?


Have posted stretches as I had prepared these instructions for a friend a while ago. Hope they help Tiger79.


Stretches I do after a run

I do each stretch for a count of 30 on each leg at a time, to start with don’t over stretch to the point were you feel your muscles being pulled.

In the photos I have deliberately kept the stretch quite light but as you get used to doing them you can deepen them, listen to your body and muscles.

Stretch 1. Hamstring and calf muscle stretch.

Stand with feet together, take one step forward with left leg bend knee slightly. The knee should not go passed the front of the foot.

Right leg is back with knee straight but not locked, feet both flat on the floor. Hold this stretch for a count of 30.You should feel the stretch up the back of the right leg and calf muscles. You can deepen this stretch by linking your fingers together behind you and lifting your arms up very gently behind, keeping your upper body upright.

Repeat the stretch on the other leg before moving onto the next stretch.

Stretch 2. Calf & hamstring stretch.

Take a step forward with your right leg and lift your toes off the floor, feeling the stretch up the back of your leg and into your calf muscles. You can deepen the stretch by leaning forward and grasping your toes, pulling gently back towards your shin. Keep your back leg (left) knee soft and slightly bent. (Do not lock out your back knee), Hold for count then change to other leg.

Stretch 3. Hip flexor stretch.

Standing upright, bring the right foot up to rest on the left leg just above the knee so that your knee is bent at a right angle. Keep your left knee (standing leg) soft, don’t lock it out. Now gently squat down to deepen that stretch in your hip joint. I find this stretch very beneficial having suffered from sciatica. Hold for count then release slowly and repeat on the other leg. You may find it beneficial to hold onto your raised foot with the opposite hand while holding onto a door frame or chair back to assist with balance with the other.

Stretch 4. Quadriceps stretch.

Standing on left leg with knee soft holding onto a chair back or door frame, lift your right foot up and behind you aiming for your butt, holding your foot with your right hand. To deepen the stretch try lifting your foot higher. Also keep your knees together, don’t pull the right knee out the way, it must be back. You should feel a really good stretch down the front of your thigh muscle, Quadriceps.

That’s the 4 leg stretches that I do, my Pilates Teacher (who is excellent and works with rehabilitation for injuries) suggested because I am now running 3 times a week or more and doing 5Km that I would benefit by repeating all these stretches once more, which I have been doing and found them helpful.


thanks old girl those stretches look great.


I had stopped doing the 5 min walk but then found I coped better when I reinstated them. Usually too impatient for 5 mins, just 1 song on the ipod


Thank you :)


I always do, but that's partly because I have a steep 1/2 mile hill outside my door, and I don't think jogging up it would set me up for a good run!! Jogging down it on the way home would probably cripple my knees too.


I still do a warm up walk, just out of habit really and because I don't want to injure myself.


Yes i tend to do a warm up walk and cool down one too. But not always 5 minutes... usually 1 song. But i always stretch after or i pay for it later! I am pretty old and need to look after the body.


I'm still doing the walks. Just occasionally I have done some stretching at the end if I've ended up back at the car and can't face walking beyond and back to get the walking in - or just feel the need. But the dog goes nuts for some reason.

All the stretching was one of the things that really put me off the idea of running in the first place - and although I try to do gentle workouts at home I am much more prone to injury from doing them cf the running.


I always do my warmup and cooldown! It is a habit instilled in me from sports as a kid. It's just plain good sense, and doesn't really take much longer. That said, as your fitness improves, the difficulty of the warmup and cooldown can change. The walk is necessary for people who are walking most of the "run" too during the program. If a very light jog or serious of walking lunges or something similar works for you, that still counts as a warmup. It should be less intense than your run, obviously, and just be waking your body up, as it were.

If you skip the warmup, you will basically fit it into the beginning of your run. Chances are you won't be able to go as fast running until your body is warmed up anyways. So as long as you are listening to your body, it is probably fine.

Cool down is a different story. Don't skip the cooldown. You can do a light jog, if that actually lowers your heart rate. Or you can walk, or do some situps or yoga, or whatever. But don't go from digging in hard for the last couple minutes of running to just plopping down on the couch or taking a shower. It is hard on your heart, and much more likely to lead to health issues. Keep upright and moving a bit until your pulse is close to normal, bare minimum.


ditto. always do the warm up walk & the cool down walk. I have recently had about a month off due to house move & found it difficult to get back into it. I then used a week 9 podcast & my run was much better. perhaps because I took the full 5 mins to get my heart rate up & legs moving & warmed up. before using laura I just walked to the end of the road (about 2mins)

I always think of marathon runners that keel over at the end & wonder if it is because they came to a complete standstill after allllll those running miles?? a cool down walk makes sense to me ~ besides it gives me time to compose myself before I get home (always hot & sweaty & very red) :)


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