Ever feel a little rusty during the first mile of your run? As muscles start to work, it’s common to suffer from a case of the creaks. Avoid that achy sensation by oiling your joints before you set into your stride. Limbering up with dynamic movements is the best way to prep your legs for the miles. Try this quick and simple warm-up before any run or race to work out the kinks from head to toe.
Women’s Running managing editor Nicki Miller learned this sequence at Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The all-inclusive resort features coaches who work with both aspiring world-class youth athletes as well as vacationing guests in running, tennis, golf, volleyball, and more.
Warm Up 101
When should I warm up? This sequence is designed to be performed right before you begin to run. But you can also do a light jog for about 5 minutes before you start the high knees.
Do I need to warm up before every run? Ideally, yes—whether it’s a neighborhood jog or a big race.
Why do I even need to warm up? The exercises will increase blood flow to your muscles, which helps prevent injury and will also improve performance
These exercises are designed to get your body in the best alignment for running. As you perform them, think about standing up straight and getting up on the balls of your feet. Look out ahead of you (not at your feet or the ground), so you’ll be able to breathe easy. Think of your airway as a straw—when you look down, you pinch off some of the airflow. You want as much oxygen fueling your body as possible!
Exaggerate your running form by driving your knees up to about hip height. Start by doing high knees in place for 10 seconds, then move forward for 20 to 40 yards. Make sure your feet are landing directly underneath your hips.
Run while lifting your heels toward your butt. Start in place for 10 seconds and then move forward 20 to 40 yards. Focus on your feet landing underneath your hips.
Lower into a shallow squat, keeping your chest lifted. Move your right foot to the side and then bring your left foot to join it as you “shuffle” along for 20 to 40 yards. Switch sides and go the same distance.
Named for a Brazilian dance, this is another sideways movement. Step your right foot in front of your left, step out to the side with your left foot, cross your right foot behind your left foot and step out again with your left. Repeat this pattern while focusing on a good twisting stretch in your hips and core. Continue for about 20 to 40 yards. Switch sides and perform for about the same distance.
You’re almost ready to go! Begin by marching in place for a few seconds. Think again about standing up straight, on the balls of your feet, and looking out ahead of you. Then lean forward to start your run.