Warm Up + Cool Down
4 Warm-Up Exercises to Do Before Your Next Run
A quick pre-run stretch can make a huge difference.
By Lucy Maher•
August 18, 2022
If you’re like most runners, you’re squeezing your miles into a busy day. That could mean hopping on the Peloton Tread before the kids wake up, on a lunch break, in between conference calls, or in the quiet of the evening. But regardless of when you lace up, it’s important to activate your legs, back, and core before starting your workout.
“Warming up allows you to feel good both during the run, because you've increased body temperature and activated targeted muscle groups,” says Peloton instructor Jess Sims, “as well as after the run. Since your body was properly prepared, the recovery is better.”
Interested in incorporating activation drills in your pre-run routine but not sure where to start? Jess recommends these four moves to fire up the hamstrings, glutes, hips, core, and upper back.
Four Moves to Try
Works: Hamstrings and calves
How to do it: Stick one leg out straight in front of you and gently bend as you lean into your knee, keeping your back flat. Sweep your hands forward and back and you stretch the hamstring of the extended leg. Repeat on the other leg.
90/90 Hips Stretch
How to do it: Sit on the floor. Place your front leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you with your knee flat on the ground. Do the same with the leg behind you. Then position your hands on the floor on each side of the front leg. Slowly drop your chest toward your front knee, while keeping your shoulders squared to the mat. You may drop to the elbows if both can reach the floor.
How to do it: Lie on your side, with legs on top of each other and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head on your lower arm, and use your top arm to keep yourself in balance. With your feet touching, raise your upper knee without shifting your hips and pelvis. Keep your lower leg off the floor. Count a few seconds, then bring your upper leg to the starting position on the ground before repeating.
Works: Core and upper back
How to do it: Have a pair of (light!) dumbbells in front of you before getting into a plank position. Take the weights in your hands, keeping a stable plank position. Pull one weight toward your chest before lowering and doing the same with the other side.
Don’t Forget a Warm-Up Run!
In addition to these moves, Jess recommends a warm up run to help your body hit its true potential. “The first mile or ten minutes of a run can be an adjustment period for your body, so I like to lightly jog for about five to ten minutes before a general run,” she says.
You may want to tweak that warm up if you’re about to start a more intense workout, she notes. “For a hills run, I would definitely add incline during the warm up and incorporate more power plyo movements. For a HIIT run, I would incorporate some short acceleration intervals.”
The good news is that there are plenty of Peloton classes on offer to get you moving before you, well, get moving. “We have some awesome pre-run warm ups, which are floor based and incorporate the four movements I mentioned earlier,” Jess says, “and we also have warm-up runs, which come after the floorwork to get that ‘yuck’ out of the beginning of your run.”
And if you’re into knocking off a few strength-training sets before you hit the Tread or road? Go easy so you don’t hinder your performance, and focus on moves that will prepare your body for the run you’ve got planned.
“Running is high impact, and it's important to note two things,” Jess says. “First, when you're running, you're only on one leg at a time, so it is crucial to work one side of the body at a time. Secondly, running happens in one plane of motion, the sagittal plane. Therefore, it is very important to work other planes such as the frontal plane (think lateral lunges) and transverse plane (think low-to-high wood chops) to make sure you're balancing everything out.”