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NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training. When it comes to warming up before a training run, Hillary knows which exercises will prepare you best.
If you had to pick, which three exercises would you recommend performing before running?
Stand sideways next to a wall (or anything stable) and support yourself with one hand while swinging your outside leg forward and back. Then face the wall and swing the same leg across your body. Repeat on both sides. First of all, this just feels good. So many of us sit for countless hours during the week, making our hips and inner glutes tight. After leg swings, you will find that you have a greater range of movement. You will be able to lift your knees higher and maintain a more efficient running form.
Stand in place and tap your foot as quickly as possible for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Complete 2–3 sets. This is a great shin-splint-prevention exercise as well as a lower-leg muscle-activation stretch. Especially if you have recently worn heels, this will help the small muscles in your legs “wake up.” Over time, toe taps will strengthen your lower legs and prevent injuries.
Take a big step forward into a lunge. Try to get a little deeper with each lunge, while maintaining a 90-degree angle from your knee to your foot. For an extra stretch, reach up with the arm opposite your front leg. While these can be a strengthening exercise with increased repetitions, if you do five to 10 on each side before a run, they really stretch your hip flexors.