The Importance of a Good Running Warm Up
A good running warm up can make or break your training session. Why, you ask? Exactly what is the purpose of a good running warm up? A big take away from last weekend’s training camp was the running warm up and a reiteration to pay close attention to it. Here are my three favorite reasons as to why:
- UNDERSTAND MOVEMENT PATTERNS AND LIMITATIONS
Some people are chronically tight and have mobility challenges. You want to be prepared for the workout. Especially, if we are talking about an interval or higher intensity session. The warm up will improve your attention to where your body may have limitations and increase your ability to react to such limitations. Our sedentary lifestyle is a major challenge for all of us. Hence, 5-minute session of joint mobility as described below can help loosen up tight necks and hips.
- INJURY PREVENTION
The fastest way to get injured is to go from 8 hours of sitting at our office job to running at threshold pace in no time flat or waking up, throwing on clothes and heading out the door (especially in the winter time). An effective warm up will raise your core body temperature and increase the blood flow to your muscles. Therefore, it will prepare you slowly for the hard work ahead. A warmed-up body is more resilient.
- IMPROVE WORKOUT PERFORMANCE
The increased body temperature helps lower your body’s resistance to movement. Therefore, your muscles will be more likely to contract faster and stronger.
HOW TO …
In many of my workouts, I simply state “warm up for x minutes with easy running, easy jogs, …”, a few times I may state ‘perform dynamic warm up exercises” and I may or may not have had an individual conversation with my athletes about it. Therefore, I will be slowly transforming my workout library to be more specific and help my athletes understand WHY it is THAT important to warm up properly.
Because I want to take the mystery out of ‘easy running’ and/or ‘dynamic warm up’ right away, here are a couple variations that you can follow to be better prepared, especially for high quality sessions.
FIRST: JOINT MOBILITY
If you are feeling particularly motivated, start all this off with some joint mobility exercises as mentioned before. This can even be done while you get dressed!
3-5 each: head rotations, head side to side, shoulder rotation forward/backward, windmill/body rotation, hip rotations both directions, forward/backward bend, windmills, hip openers/rotations, leg swings forward/backwards/across, ankle rotations. Watch Coach Shelly in action here and here as she allowed us to film her!
Follow that with one of these dynamic warm ups:
RUNNING WARM UP – OPTION A
Matt Dixon’s Dynamic Warm Up (2:20)
5-10 slow calf raises
5-10 fast calf raises
5-10 explosive hop jumps off soles of feet
10 yards walking in straight line, bringing shin towards chest for hip mobility
10 yards walking knee lifts
10 yards walking fire hydrants (outside in)
For balance, I’d like you to add the inside out rotation for 5-10 reps after that as well while standing still. Not shown in this video. Start running with a high cadence drill, feet to butt, before settling into an easy warm up pace.
RUNNING WARM UP – OPTION B
All performed on each side, of course:
10 clam shells
5 lateral leg lifts, toes neutral/out/up (so 15 total)
10 donkey kicks
10 donkey whips (bringing leg lateral/to the side)
10 fire hydrants in quadruped position
10 forward/backward knee circles
10 standing hip rotations forward/backward
10 lateral leg swings
10 linear straight leg swings
10 linear bent knee leg swings
You will feel this one in your glutes. Be sure to focus on a good posture throughout.
RUNNING WARM UP – OPTION C
Very similar, but a bit easier: The Jay Johnson SAM Routine (4:17)
10s ea straight plank, side planks L/R, straight plank
6x double leg hip bridge
6x clam shells
6x reverse clamshells
6x reverse air clams
6x lateral leg raise: toe in, toe neutral, toe out
8x donkey kicks
8x donkey whips
8x fire hydrants
8x knee circles forward/backward
5x cat-cow stretch
Option D: My personal favorites like heel walks, a sky reach, side bends, forward/backward arm swings, knee hugs, butt kicks and hamstring kick-outs. Some running drills, like grapevines, skips and bounds as you can see in my Running Drills Handout could follow that.
Hope that takes a little bit of the mystery out of my expectations for your running “warm up”!