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Do These 5 Exercises Before Every Run and Feel Better

Two women stretch before a track workout

WARMUPS AREN'T JUST FOR SPEED WORK

We feel you. Sometimes life is so busy that it seems like adding anything more to your five-mile-after-work loop is impossible. However, to get the most out of your run, and to finish feeling energized, adding in about seven to 10 minutes of warm up is precisely what you need. These five exercises will help keep your body more balanced and injury free.



A woman wearing warm running clothes

WALK

Walking for about five minutes before you start running loosens your muscles, increases blood flow, and gently raises your body temperature to prepare you for the dynamic warm up to come. It is especially important if you head out the door first thing in the morning or after you’ve sat at a desk for most of the day.

Don't worry about any particular pace. Just walk how you feel.

BUTT KICKS

Butt kicks actively stretch your quads and send a message that it’s time for them to come online; you’re going for a run, and you need them to join.

Start by standing tall, relaxing your shoulders, and holding your arms loosely at your sides as you would while running. Now, begin to jog, but with an exaggerated back kick … so exaggerated that you kick your butt. Perform about 15 to 20 on each side, preferably on flat ground.

For a more advanced version: Increase your cadence.

HIGH KNEES

High knees actively stretch the glutes and send the glutes a message to wake up.

Stand tall, relax your shoulders, and hold your arms loosely at your sides as you would while running. Maintain an upright posture as you move forward with high knees. Bounce from left to right, moving forward, and optimally drawing your knees up to parallel with the ground with each step. It will feel like a “bouncy march.” Shoot for 15 to 20 reps on each side.

For a more advanced version: Increase your cadence.

LEG SWINGS

Leg swings offer a gentle, dynamic stretch for the hamstrings and hip flexors and increase blood flow.

Stand perpendicular to a wall or a post. Flex your inside foot (the one closest to the wall) and swing your leg forward and back. Repeat 10 times and turn to place the opposite hand on the wall. Perform 10 swings on the other side.

Then, switch to face the wall or post and place both hands there for balance. Perform 10 bilateral swings on both sides keeping the foot of the swinging leg flexed.

If you’ve been sitting most of the day, consider a bonus set on each side.

STRIDES

Now that your body is warmed up from walking and stretching dynamically, it’s time to really ramp up the heart rate and blood flow with three to six 20-second strides or “pick-ups.” The point is simply to recruit fast twitch muscles to ease your body into running mode. These don’t need to be all-out sprints, just short bursts of faster running.

Slowly accelerate into each stride and shake out your legs and walk around for about 20 to 30 seconds between each stride to keep your muscles loose.

After your final stride, get ready, get set, and ... go!