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London Marathon 2015: The best ways to warm up

From elite athletes to costume-wearing fundraisers, the London Marathon is a celebration of human endurance and strength; but everyone needs to prepare properly! Here's how..

Warming up is a vital part of running a long-distance race

The London Marathon is almost upon us, hitting London on Sunday (April 26), and many thousands of people are currently in training for the epic event.

But, after months of training - check out our training tips for any last-minute advice - runners must still ensure they warm up properly before embarking on the 26.2-mile challenge.

So, how do you warm up safely and effectively?

Physical and mental preparation will have been coupled with a nutritional programme to give the runners the best chance of success at the world-famous event.

Warming up properly doesn't just protect your muscles and joints, but it can also help you focus and get your adrenaline pumping for the race, so make sure you don't skip this important step!

Here are our top-tips for the perfect warm-up for the gruelling race:

Don't stretch!

It's a common misconception that you should stretch before you exercise; in fact, stretching doesn't protect your joints or warm up your muscles, so it doesn't provide an effective warm-up. The best time to stretch out is immediately after your cool-down, which helps reduce soreness and minimise any damage. The ideal routine should be: warm-up, run, walk (as a cool-down), then stretch.

Get your joints moving

Gentle movements of the neck, shoulders, waist, hips, knees and ankles will help you loosen up. Think of the little exercises air stewards tell you to complete on long-haul flights.

Go for a walk

Begin your warm-up by walking, steadily progressing your speed into a slow jog, then slow down and repeat. The light exercise will prepare your body for more movement.

Hamstring swings

Put your hamstrings through a range of movements, without the impact of running on the road, to prevent injury.

Reverse walking

Walking backwards activates the gluteal muscles, which helps to stabilise your pelvis while running.

Short runs

Finish your warm-up with 25m runs, accelerating from a slow start to a brisk pace. This will get your heart beating and blood flowing easily to your muscles.

Remember your equipment is also as important as your training and warm-up so make sure you've got the right gear on, including a good pair of trainers.

For more information and tips, head to the official Virgin Money London Marathon website .

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