Words: Dani Byrnes
This short, yet effective running warm-up will assist in the safe activation of running specific muscles such as our legs and arms – even our respiratory system. Warming up before a race or even a short training run is very important to ensure we keep out joints, tendons and muscles healthy and injuries at bay. This warm-up only takes around seven minutes and is effective for runners of any level.
It is important to note, warm-up drills are not designed to “fatigue” you before a run, but rather engage key muscle groups by attracting blood flow to these areas. Running on cold muscles may lead to “niggles” which could very quickly lead to long-term injuries, seeing you miss out on participating in the Gold Coast Marathon. Our bodies are like a vehicle and they need to be serviced and cared for – we only get one!
I encourage you to do these fun, energising drills once you are geared and laced up for your run. No equipment is required and you can do these anywhere. For running longevity, it is recommended you warm up to ensure we can go the distance! Happy warm-up!
1. Froggy squats (30s)
This warm-up gets the posterior chain ready for some work! Start in a squat position with your feet slightly wider than hip width, your hands together and elbows pressing pressing your knees out. Stand, tucking your chin to chest, lengthening through the hamstrings. Keep pressure in the inside of the knees as you squat to stand. Continue for 30 seconds.
2. Gate openers (30s)
This warmup is designed to open up the hip and release the flexors. Lift one knee up to hip height, while balancing on the grounded leg. Next, externally rotate the leg whilst keeping the knee joint at a 90 degree angle. Take a step forward, then lift the other leg and repeat. Continue for 30 seconds.
4. Down-dog calf raise (30s)
Starting in a push up position, walk the feet forward until your hips are raised and your body is in a pyramid position and you can only just maintain this position. Raise the heels as you inhale, then ground the heels as you exhale. Repeat for 30 seconds or until you feel the hamstrings are warm.
5. Standing pigeon stretch (30s)
Balancing on one leg, lift one leg and bend that knee, resting it on the opposite thigh. Next, take a deep breath in, then on the exhale, bend the grounded leg to lower into a single-leg squat. Flex the top foot to engage the glute on that side.
6. High knees (slow, then fast) (30s)
Standing upright, jog on the spot by lifting each knee up to hip height. Ensure you jump and land on the ball of the feet and avoid any heel striking. Start at a pace you could maintain comfortably, then after 20 seconds continue at twice the speed for 10-15 seconds. This should get the hips warm and the heart rate up – whilst also getting some lower ab activation.
7. Heel flicks (slow, then fast) (30s)
Standing upright, jog on the spot and bend the knees so the feet flick back, with the aim of the heel taping the thigh. Keep the foot flexed to engage the hamstrings. Start at a pace you could maintain comfortably, then after 20 seconds continue at twice the speed for 10-15 seconds. This should get the hips warm and the heart rate up.
8. Hamstring stretch (30s)
With feet slightly wider than hip, bend one knee and keep the other leg straight with that foot facing outwards. Press the heel of the straight leg in to the ground and lift the toes up. Keeping your back straight, reach your hands to your ankles to increase the stretch and with every exhale, deepen the stretch. Continue for 30 seconds.
9. Hamstring marching (30s)
With the goal to keep the legs as straight as possible, stand tall in an upright position and lift one leg up to hip height. Use the opposite hand to grip the ankle or foot (depending on flexibility). Try to maintain an upright position and point the toes back to you. Hold for 2-4 seconds and gently lower the leg, stepping forward. Continue with the next leg and repeat for 30 seconds.
10. Leg Swings (30s)
Using a tree or post for balance, swing one leg laterally, forward and back for 15 seconds, then repeat on the other leg. Next, swing the first leg from left to right in front of the body for 15 seconds, loosening the hip flexors and promoting blood flow to the leg. Repeat on the other side.
11. Plank (30s)
The core has a lot of work to do during a run so it is important to warm up the abdominals. Start in a push up position on your hands (or forearms) and hold for 30 seconds whilst lifting the belly button up to the spine. Keep the hips low and core tight.
12. Upper body – chest flies, arm circles, shoulder rolls (30s each)
But don’t we run with our legs? That’s right! However, the arms have a very important job in maintaining our stride. The first step is to open the arms out to a “T” and keeping the arms straight, cross them over each other across the chest, then open back out to a T, slowly increasing speed. Continue for 30 seconds whilst alternating the direction of the palms to get a good stretch across the chest and arms. Next, swing the arms in a circular motion for 15 seconds, then reverse for 15 seconds. Finally, bending the elbows, roll the shoulders and relax the neck. Go for 15 seconds one way before reversing the direction for a final 15 seconds.