As a coach at Mile High Run Club, I’ve started to hear one question come up a lot: “Do I need to warm up for my warm up?” In those minutes before class starts or as people congregate outside to begin a run, I notice runners looking around nervously. They watch their friends and fellow-runners stretching, hopping, or jogging before the day’s work has even begun, so they start to wonder what’s the best way to prepare for the day’s session.
To start, everyone’s pre-run routine is different. Through some trial and error, though, you can begin to create a system that works best for you. Here are some tips and tricks to help your body feel ready to go before the run has even begun.
First things first, I like to start all training with joint activation. Running is high-impact, so doing some dynamic movement pre-run helps to loosen up your joints and prepare your body for some pounding. This mobility segment can include ankle, knee, and hip circles to loosen your joints.
After mobility, do a quick body scan to see where you are most tight. Target those area specifically with some quick stretches. It’s important not to do too much static, or held stretching, but keep any pre-run stretching dynamic. For example, if your calves are quite tight and in need of a bent-knee stretch, just add some pulses to the stretch to create a dynamic component to the practice. Focus on areas that are tightest to prep your muscles to engage and loosen for the run ahead.
Finally, if you find yourself with some extra time before the work starts, go ahead and set your treadmill to a walking pace. If you’re standing outside waiting for your group to come, try some gentle hops to keep your body warmed up and ready to go. Hopping can include double leg and alternating single leg hops, or high knees. These simple movements help keep your body loose and ready for the run ahead.
This routine may sound long, but with experience and practice, you can hone this into a quick, five-minute prep. Short on time? Focus on mobility and add any stretches you have time for.
Trust me, taking that short amount of time to loosen at the front end of training will prevent you from getting overly sore afterwards!
Now you’re off and ready to hit the tread, trails, track, or roads!