How to Warm Up Before a Run

How to Warm Up Before A Run |

The warm up before a run.

Do you skip it?

I admit, I’m guilty.

Even though I know how good a quality warm up makes a run feel, I still skip it every so often. My run time is precious!

We all know we should do it. But how many times does it actually happen? And what does ‘warm up’ actually mean?

So why should you do a warm up?

First off, you need to get your body ready for exercise. After sleeping all night long or sitting all day long at work, you put your body into shock when you immediately step out the door and begin to run. Your body needs to warm up by slowly increasing your heart rate and breathing rate. In doing so, you are lubricating your joints which will give you better range of motion and better elasticity in tendons and ligaments. Tons of research supports that a dynamic warm up benefits the body AND can make you a faster runner.

A warm up can be done in less than 10 minutes. Here’s how to get out the door and ready to run in no time at all.

Step one: Foam Roll

I always used my foam roller or Trigger Point roller after my runs or before I went to bed.  Then my massage therapist told me to use it BEFORE my run.  Why?  It helps warm the muscles up – duh!

Start with the major muscles – back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves.  If you find something that is extra sticky, spend a little bit more time on that spot. I usually do 3-5 swipes of the roller if it’s not sticky.

For me, rolling takes about 5 minutes unless there’s something that needs extra love (usually my calves).

Step two: Glute Activation

My glutes are usually sleepy and need a little wake up with a few mini band exercises.

How to Warm Up Before A Run |

Step three: Dynamic Warm Up

Matt, my physical therapist, got me hooked on this warm up sequence.  It fires up the whole body and leaves me sweating and ready to run.

Toy Solider: Keep your back and knees straight as you lift your leg straight out of front of you. Reach your arm forward and try to let your toes touch your hand. 5-10 reps each side.

Knee to Chest: Walk forward, bring your right knee to you chest while left leg stays straight. Do the same move on the right side. Repeat as you walk forward with 5-10 hugs of each knee to chest. Keep core strong and back straight.

Walking Quad Stretch: Just like doing a static quad stretch except as you are walking forward. Bring your right foot to your butt, grabbing hold of foot or ankle before releasing. Switch legs with each step. Again, core strong, back straight. 5-10 reps each side.

Open the Gate: While standing, lift your left knee to waist level and rotate it out to the side before lowering foot back to the ground. Repeat on right side. 5-10 reps each side.

Inchworm to Spider Plank: From standing, bend at the waist and walk your hands out to plank position. Drop hips to the ground and look up. Come back to plank and bring right foot to outside of right hand, keeping hips square. Repeat on left side. From plank position, walk feet to hands while keeping legs straight. Stand up tall to finish.  Repeat sequence 5-10 times.

How to Warm Up Before A Run |

And now, you are ready to run!

I know it seems like a lot, especially when you are used to doing nothing except walking out the door to run. BUT once you get in the habit of doing this routine (or even part of it!), you will feel a HUGE difference.  I know I do!

So now the question is – What’s your favorite way to warm up before a run?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.

20 comments on “How to Warm Up Before a Run

  1. When we were in Florida for training camp last week my coach made us do all the activation warm-ups after we ran for at least a mile. You know what? It makes a difference! However, I rarely stop to do the activation techniques unless I’m doing speed work. Bad runner!
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  2. I always do a bare minimum of leg swings, open the gates, and arm swings to warm up before a run. Lately, I added foam rolling before a run – it makes a world of difference!

    1. When my massage therapist suggested foam rolling pre run I was like, why? But now I know how much of difference it makes. Sold!

    1. I try to do all of these things pre run but that doesn’t always happen. The funny thing is that I know all of these make me feel better too.

  3. Not enough runners do their warm-ups. The runners I coach in person will be doing their warm-ups before EVERY single run they do. It gets the heart pumping, legs loose, and allows them to catch up with each other. Win-win in my book!

    1. I’m guilty of skipping a warm up. But when I do, I regret it because I feel like everything creaks for longer than it should.

  4. I usually warm up “some,” but know I should focus a few more minutes to it LOL I’ve never done the open-the-gate move before…I bet that’s great for the hips!

  5. You don’t have to spend a long time warming up your muscles, but a light warmup can prevent injuries and help you get the most out of your runs.

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