As with any sport, you should take the necessary precautions to your health and pay very close attention to how your body is responding to it’s surroundings, integrated systems, and the race day “stressors” that come about. Training properly is infinitely important when regarding your body’s condition.
When you’ve trained for a long period of time and have become conditioned for certain activities, whether it be running, cycling, swimming, or others, you sometimes take for granted the importance of properly warming up. The physiological process that takes place with such things mentioned above may seem to “just happen”, but with not truly understanding what happens when you are performing such feats That’s where injury, complications, and even the extreme of death occurs. I’m not saying that each time you don’t take an extra couple of minutes to warm up before a 5k is going to kill you, but it does up the chances of having some type of complication to present itself. I’m very guilty of not doing a proper warm up before 5k races. For me, it’s simply the mindset that I’ve ran a million 5k races, I can run for days, no big deal. I’ve been much better about warming up, not only before races, but with even playing the many sports I enjoy, simply because of gained more knowledge of how my body functions over the years.
Every system in the human body is involved in exercise in one way or another. Cardiovascular, skeletal, organs, tissues, etc. It takes time for your body to adapt to the stress you put it through to perform. I’ll explain a smidge on this starting with the cardiovascular and respiratory systems:
Exercise and training improves the ability of the cardio-respiratory system to take oxygen from air inhaled into the lungs, and then load and transport it more efficiently. This gain in efficiency in the movement of blood through the cardiovascular system allows greater amounts of oxygen to be transferred from the respiratory system. Your heart strengthens over time with training, which helps it to pump blood through the body more adequately per the demand.
This increase in the cardiovascular system helps the skin and other organs to adapt to certain environmental conditions. Thermoregulation, which is the body’s ability to maintain optimal body temperature for all it’s “parts”, becomes easier to manage due to the proficiency of the cardiovascular system. The increase in blood amount, decreased heart rate, increase in blood flow through the capillaries (allowing blood to circulate to the cooler surfaces), and preservation of sodium to promote better management of hydration all enhance the body’s ability to heat and cool itself and maintain proper body temperature.
The skeletal system gains bone density through high impact activities and weight training. These resistance movements created big force on the skeletal system, which causes it to adapt and become stronger. Many studies have shown that this type of exercise can help to prevent the osteoporosis.
Think of it all as preheating the oven. In order to properly cook your meal in the oven and accomplish the final goal, you first need to “warm up” the oven to the optimal cooking temperature. If you don’t do this, you may not get the best results possible. You could also run into detrimental issues along the way. So make sure you take those 5 extra minutes to “preheat” your body!