Heading out for a run too fast and not warmed up is a recipe for injury.
Sprinters spend 30-45 minutes warming up for a 10-20 second run, dancers spend 20-30 minutes warming and stretching for a routine that last 1-5 minutes. Just because you run for 30 minutes plus does not mean that you do not have to stretch or warmup.
If you start out too fast, you run the risk of pulling a muscle, tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint, or getting into a pace that you can’t sustain. A smart warmup gives your muscles, bones, and joints a chance to loosen up; it gradually and gently brings up your heart rate and makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain so you can run—and finish—feeling exhilarated and energized enough to go longer, and excited to set out for your next workout.
Try this routine, which targets the muscles used for running. Start slowly, focusing on form; as the moves get easier, pick up speed. Use small movements for the first few reps, and increase the range of motion as you go. Many of these moves we do every Saturday at Run Training.
• Skipping Try skipping for 25 to 50 meters, gradually increasing the height and range of each skip as you go.
• Side step/shuffle Step to the side, 10 to 20 meters to the right, then 10 to 20 meters to the left. You can do it walking and gradually progressing to a jog. As your muscles start to warm up, you can build the intensity so that you’re trying to cover as much ground as possible with as few steps as possible.
• Weave step (also known as “the grapevine”) Step your right foot to the right, then step your left food behind your right foot. Keep repeating this for 10 to 20 meters to the right, then repeat the cycle to the left. Keep alternating between right and left. Like the side step/shuffle, you can start by walking, then ramp up the intensity to a jog, trying to move as quickly as possible.
• Backward jogging Start with 50-meter segments.
• Butt kicks While standing tall, walk forward with an exaggerated backswing so that your heels come up to your glutes. When this is easy, try it while jogging. Do 10 reps on each side. Too easy? Alternate butt kicks with high knees. Do five butt kicks, then do five high-knee steps. The butt kicks stretch the quads and the “high knees” stretch the glutes.
• Hacky-Sack Lift up your left leg, bending your knee so it points out. Tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand without bending forward. Repeat 10 times on each side. This stimulates the balance you’re going to need when you start running.
• Toy soldier Keeping your back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes. Advance this by adding a skipping motion. Do 10 reps on each side.