When you head out for a run, you don’t just dilly-dally, you run! To really maximize this time and to reduce your risk of injuries, take a few minutes to warm up. By adding a warm-up routine before your run, you properly increase your heart rate, breathing rate and blood flow to your muscles.
Nothing slows you down like an injury. You’ve probably heard that you should stretch before you run, but to really enhance your performance there is a little more to it than basic stretching. Static stretching, or simply holding a muscle for 30 seconds or longer, can actually slow you down. Instead, do dynamic stretching, which improves range of motion, loosens muscles and increases heart rate. Because dynamic stretching is sport-specific, make sure to do moves designed for runners. A few examples are leg lifts, high-knees, walking lunges and heel-kicks.
The way you warm up depends on the run you are heading out for. If it’s an easy, everyday run, just walk a block or two to loosen up your muscles. If you are doing intervals, you should do a 20- to 40-minute jog, according to “Runner’s World.” If you are jumping on the treadmill, spend 10 minutes on a low- or no-impact cardio machine at a moderate effort. All of these warm-ups will make you stronger during your run, just make sure not to go so hard during your warm-up that you wear yourself out before the real workout begins.
As a busy professional, time means money. You already squeeze a running workout into your jam-packed schedule, so it might seem impossible to add in some strength training. But with just seven minutes, you can target all of the major muscles that you need to become a stronger, faster runner. That’s because these exercises work as a warm-up for your core and glutes, two of the most important muscles groups used in running. The moves include reverse lunges, single-leg hops, single-leg reaches, planks with alternating leg lift and squats.
Plyometrics are high-intensity moves that have you stretching and loading your muscles before contracting them. While this sounds scientific, it really is nothing more than stretching out a rubber band before you shoot it. These moves teach your muscles to contract faster, which can translate to faster, more powerful running. When it comes to your pre-run routine, consider adding some of these moves. In a study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2007, runners who added sprinting and bound moves to their warm-up improved overall muscle activation compared to runners who just jogged and stretched for their warm-up.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.