A warm up exercises for runners is a vital part of preparation if you’re a long distance runner, marathon runner, or 5K weekend warriors.
A thorough warm up can drastically reduce your risk of injury, as well as improve your muscles’ ability to work at full capacity and enable you to run faster, and further.
So you can enjoy your runs without fear of picking up injuries that leave you unable to exercise.
And you can hit personal bests for speed, distance or both!
So, yes, warms up are pretty important, and if you take your running seriously, then you’ll want to make sure you’re warming up right.
Static Stretching Versus Dynamic Warm Up Exercises for Runners
A static stretch is what you’ve probably done a lot of, and involves stretching a muscle to near its furthest point and then holding that position for at least 15 or 20 seconds.
You might have done this type of warm up to stretch your calves, hamstrings, or glutes before you start your run.
However, dynamic warm up exercises are proven to be more effective and can help you run for longer as a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated.
The Best Warm Up Exercises For Long Distance Runners
We work with lots of runners, from those who love a short fast 5K every morning, right up to professional athletes and endurance athletes, and have helped people avoid injuries, and improve their performance.
To help you, our expert team has put together the best warm up exercises for runners or marathon runners, long distance runners and 5K early morning runners.
Before we get started – Every person is different, so you may have specific sports injuries you need to work around or focus more attention on problem areas such as your hips.
If you do, and you want some help understanding how to adjust this warm up exercises for runners routine to suit you specifically, our team can help you with a Free Peak Performance Assessment where we can discuss how you can maximize your running performance, minimize injuries and beat your previous best!
Warm Up Walk
Once you’ve laced up your running trainers, starting with a short 5-minute walk at a gradually increasing pace is a great way to ease your body into activity.
Exercise 1 – High Knees
For the first two exercises; high knees, and butt kicks, perform each exercise for 20 to 40 meters. These dynamic exercises are primarily targeting increasing blood flow to your leg muscles.
– Begin in a neutral standing position. Pick one leg off the ground, bending at the hip and knee and keeping the torso upright. Perform the same movement on the other leg. Focus on bringing your knees directly up towards the sky in quick succession during high knees.
Exercise 2 – Butt Kicks
– Begin in a neutral standing position. Keeping thighs pointing perpendicular to the ground, try and bring the heels of your feet towards your butt one heel at a time. When you feel comfortable with this movement, try and perform the movement more quickly.
Exercise 3 – Bounds
The next three exercises; bounds, skips for height, and skips for distance are explosive, activate fast-twitch muscle fibers and increase blood flow to your muscles overall.
– Begin with feet shoulder width apart.
– Focus on pushing down through your legs, driving into the ground to propel your body forwards.
– You can swing your arms while simultaneously pushing through the ground to help propel your body forwards. Do not let your knees collapse inwards when initiating the movement and when completing the movement.
– Aim for a soft landing – do not slam your feet into the ground as that will put greater strain on your joints.
Exercise 4 – Skips For Height
– Begin in neutral standing position.
– Start jogging slowly, then focus on driving both arms and one knee up towards the sky with one explosive movement.
– Try and land softly on the ground, and repeat this movement on your opposite side.
– Your body positioning should mimic the video game character “Mario” when he jumps into the air. The bigger your arm and knee drive, the higher you will get into the air.
Exercise 5 – Skips For Distance
– Begin in a neutral standing position.
– Start jogging slowly, then focus on driving your arms and one leg up towards the sky.
– As you start to come down, try kicking the leg that is in front backwards to give you more forward thrust.
– Land softly and repeat this movement on the opposite leg.
Exercise 6 – Lunge And Twist
The next exercise; the lunge and twist is a combination movement that will help strengthen your core and legs while also stretching out your hip flexors which you use to help pick your legs up when you run.
– Begin in neutral standing position. Bring one leg forward, bending at the hip and knee so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and your knee is over your ankle. You want to have a 90 degree angle between your torso and thigh, and between your thigh and lower leg. Your back leg should also be bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee. Do not let this back leg touch the ground. When you are stable in this position, rotate towards the side of the leg that is forward.
Exercise 7 – Leg Swings
The penultimate exercise; leg swings are great for those with tight hamstrings and help bend the knee during runs.
Perform this exercise on both legs in two directions (forwards/backwards and across the body).
– Stand on one leg with your hips parallel to a wall/pole.
– Place your hands on the wall/pole for stabilization, and swing your free leg across your body. Perform this movement 10 times.
– Turn your hips so they are perpendicular to the wall/pole.
– Place one hand on the wall/pole for stabilization, and swing your free leg forward and backwards 10 times. Try and maintain an upright position when performing these swings.
Exercise 8 – Strides
The final exercise is strides, where you perform 6 x 100m strides to recruit fast twitch muscle fibers and increase blood flow to your muscles overall
– Begin in a neutral standing position.
– Slowly begin jogging at your normal pace, increasing your stride length until you have built up to 70-80% of your max speed. Maintain that 70-80% pace for the remainder of the 100 meters.
By following these dynamic warmup suggestions, you will notice a difference in your performance on your next long run, and should be able to improve your run distance, run time, and avoid injuries that stop you from exercise.
How Long Should I Warm Up Before Running?
The length of your warm up will depend on how long the run is going to be, how challenging the run will be, your injury history, and your existing fitness level.
However, if you aren’t sure, aim to spend 10-15 minutes doing your warm up before running.
How Can I Improve My Running Performance?
If you’re struggling to get faster, run longer, or feel like you’re constantly managing niggling injuries, our team is here to help you.
Right now, you can arrange one of our Free Peak Performance Assessments where you can speak to a member of our team 1-1, and learn about the most effective ways you can improve your sports performance without getting injured.
As there is extremely high demand at Prep Performance Centre in Chicago, we have to limit these, so call us on (773) 609-1847 or click the link below to avoid disappointment!
More Free Resources To Improve Your Runs
Read Our Blog – 6 Tips To Improve Sports Performance This Spring
Read Our Blog – How To Prevent Knee Pain When Running