It’s been very cold here for the past week. It’s been snot freezing cold. Even though we have central heat, some rooms in our house, including our master bedroom, never seem particularly warm. Our basement, where our gym is, is another such space, which is why I take warming up before running on the treadmill so seriously.
I learned from coaches and physical education teachers decades ago that warming up before exercise can help you avoid injuries. Before I run, I walk, increasing the speed and incline as the minutes tick by. I walk briskly for 15-20 minutes and then run (jog really) for another 20-30 minutes on an average day. The walk not only helps to prevent injury, it also raises my heart rate so I burn more calories throughout my run.
Warming up isn’t just important before exercise. It’s also key to other activities.
I was watching some clips the other day about the making of the children’s charity album “Got It Covered”, which features the singing magic of several British movie and television actors – Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant (both who have played the Doctor in Dr. Who), Himesh Patel (Yesterday) Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Colman (both with very long credits and awards, AND both currently staring in The Crown), Suranne Jones (Dr. Foster and Gentleman Jack) and others. Included on the album is a group song and one of the videos showed them warming up prior to their first crack at recording.
When I sit down to write, I don’t just sit down, open a document or my paper journal and dispense greatness. I often schedule my time to write so that I know I have the time. I’ll make myself a cup of tea, settle into a comfy seat, have an idea of what I’m going to write about and then, I churn out passable drivel like you’re reading here. I’ll often also listen to music, with jazz being my go to. This is how I warm up to write.
Rough drafts, first takes, and brainstorming might come after an initial warm up activity, but you can also think of them as ways of warming up, which takes the pressure off to get it right the first time. Put in the time to warm up, and keep getting warm at the start to allow you to do your best work without worrying about either physical or mental injury.
Ah, and don’t forget about cooling down. After a run, I walk slowly for a few minutes. After I write or really work my brain trying to solve a problem, I usually take a couple of minutes to sit back, admire the fresh view of what I’ve created, and relish the way it makes me feel.
p.s. Got it Covered is a fabulous album for a good cause, so check it out.