Magazine / Lifestyle / Fitness

Solo Running: Warm Up Routine

Teodora Cozma
Editor-in-Chief
On Nov 2nd, 2020

Run better, stronger and faster with a five to ten minutes warm-up routine. Learn and perform these five dynamic stretches and exercises to improve your running experience.

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In the first episode, we have introduced you to the benefits of starting to run solo during these changing times. If you are just starting a running routine, we recommend our top three tips to help you stay motivated in the mornings and not skip the workout. In this third episode of the Solo Running mini-series we focus on five dynamic stretches to incorporated in your warm-up activity.

Benefits of Warming Up

Running is a high-intensity workout; it is essential to know how to warm-up to lower your injury risk, improve your performance and have less muscle tension and pain. If your training is missing any of the two primary rules: warming up before and stretching after the workout, then you are waiting for an injury to happen.

Effective training traces a fine line between hard enough and too hard, and to prepare your body and muscles for the run, it is important to warm-up. If there is too much stress and the body doesn’t have time to adapt to the exercises, it will be overwhelmed, and you will be at a higher risk of injury.

Evidence published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows performance improving in subjects which completed warm-up activities. Therefore, warming up before you go for a run will help your performance and reduce the soreness in your muscles.

Your warm-up session should last between five to ten minutes. As we age, the muscle elasticity decreases and warming up can help make up for those deficits. A ten minutes warm-up routine will help gently raise your heart rate, therefore minimising the stress of the workout on your muscles.

Discover five of my favourite ways to warm-up before I go for a run, and learn some tips about how to perform these exercises.

Warm-up was shown to improve performance in 79% of the subjects examined.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

Leg Swings

Before you start your run, make sure you take ten minutes to prepare your body for the muscular stress that it will be subjected to. Running can make your hips become tight and leg swings are an excellent exercise to include in your warm-up to prevent tightness. Perform ten leg swings on each side and direction (front to back and sideways).

Stand straight and swing one leg at a time upwards as far as your hip. Raise the leg at the hight that is comfortable for you. Perform ten front to back leg raises before switching to ten side to side.

The exercise increases hip-flexor mobility. Leg swings are dynamic stretches and engage your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves. This type of warm-up helps prepare your body for running and reduces the chances of injury. As your muscles are primed for activity during the warm-up, runners notice increased performance in their sessions.

Leg Raises

Activate your hip joints by stretching your arms up while slowly raising one leg at the time until your thigh is horizontal to the floor. Keep your knee at a 90 degrees angle and repeat the move ten times before switching legs.

Leg raises help runners increase their flexibility and performance while lowering the risk of injury. The exercise helps to strengthen the lower abs and legs. Repeating the routine will also strengthen the hip flexors and improve flexibility as it involves constant joint movements.

Arm Circles

Continue your warm-up routine with simple movements such as arm circles. You do not need any equipment or a particular set up.

Start the exercise by relaxing your arms and shoulders. Then raise your arms by your side until parallel to the floor and begin making rotations with your arms, first forward and then backwards. Keep your feet hip-width apart and aim for ten circles each way before reversing.

Arm circles can help to tone the muscles in your shoulders, triceps and biceps. Varying the size of the rings and increase the speed will help warm-up the shoulders and upper back. If your muscles are tight, begin with small circles and gradually work your way up to larger circles.

Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are excellent movements to warm-up as they activates your entire body. For this exercise, you don’t need any equipment. Start by standing straight with your legs close together and your arms next to your body.

Create an inverted V shape by jumping and spreading your legs while raising your arms and add a clap at the top, above your head. To perform this exercise safely, pay attention and try to always land softly on your feet. Return your arms by your side and your feet to the original position. Then continue with the next jump. Use a good pair of sports shoes to avoid injuries and aim for your movements to be smooth and seamless.

Jumping jacks increase your body temperature and aerobic capacity. The moves will involve muscles such as the calves, hip abductors, core, abs, lower back and shoulder abductors. Most of the muscles will be needed for your run, and your workout will benefit from a ten-minute warming up session.

Mountain Climbers

Another good exercise to get your heart rate up and engage your muscles are mountain climbers. This exercise doesn’t require any equipment. Place your hands on the floor and position your body in a straight-line plank. Lift one leg and bring the knee as close to your chest as possible. Return the leg to the plank and engage your abs to switch to the other leg.

Repeat the exercise and build up speed until you feel you are running against the floor. Keep up the activity until you feel your muscles warmed up and ready to power through your run. Mountain climbers are another full-body workout, engaging several muscle groups at the same time: the calves, core, abs, arms, shoulders and chest.

Move as fast as you can for 30 seconds, following a 15 seconds rest. Repeat the sequence at least five times before you go for your run. If you want a challenge or your fitness level is advanced, then try going as fast as you can for 45 seconds and follow with a 15 seconds rest.

If you want to strengthen your core, mountain climbers are the answer. During the exercise, you will engage your abs, obliques, lower back, glutes and pelvic floor muscles. Your muscles will work as hard as when you are running, while barely putting any pressure on your knees and ankles. Maintaining the rhythm during the exercise is really important to improve your agility and coordination.

Mountain climbers will increase your flexibility as your legs move back and forward continuously. Your joints in your hips and knees loosen up, making your later running strides lighter and smoother. If in the beginning, your hips are tight, place your palms on an elevated surface.

While focusing on the movements and maintaining a correct body posture, you might be holding your breath. To be able to perform, remember to breathe during the exercises!

Now that you are motivated and warmed up for your run, remember to make your workout an enjoyable experience. We will meet you next time with a new episode about my favourite stretches to perform after a run. Use #SoloRunning on Instagram and share your progress. If the run has given you an appetite, check this delicious and easy to make Post-Workout Recovery Smoothie Recipe.

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