Your starting point should be an easy general cardiovascular warm-up lasting 10 - 15 minutes (or until you have broken a light sweat). This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures and prepare you for the workout ahead. If it’s particularly cold out, you may need a little more time to warm up. Now it is a time to focus and concentrate, leaving all outside distractions and stressors behind. It is time to put the phone down!
If you take the time to practice a few of these exercises before quality workouts, this give you a chance to learn what works well for your body. Maybe you sit all day long and need to spend a little more time loosening up the glutes and hip flexors so you would take more time to do Marching in Place or Hurdles for instance. Then come race day, you know what works for you and can take the time to properly warm-up for best results.
Dynamic Warm-up – These are simple basic exercises that move your body through various motions. There are many variations and here are some of our favorites. This list is by no means complete!
Marching in Place: Warms up the entire body.
Stand up tall and engage your core. As if you were running, raise your knee and opposite arm to simulate marching. Bring your knees up as high as you are comfortable and make sure to use your arms.
Hurdles: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.
Lift leg as if going over a high object, forward and then backwards 3 -5 times each leg.
Forward and Side Leg Swings: Warms up and stretches the hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, and hip abductors.
Holding onto a stable object, swing leg forward and back. Then swing the leg from side to side. Repeat 5 - 10 times for each leg. Start with a small motion and as you do these, gradually extend the range of motion.
Hacky Sack touches: Warms up and enhances mobility of all the muscles of hips and adductors.
Lift right leg, sticking the knee out while you bring foot up to touch the left hand. Switch legs. Next, bring right leg up, sticking knee towards the center of your body and touch your right foot with your right hand. Repeat up to 10 times for each leg.
Step Back Lunge: This exercise demands core stability, hip extension and glute recruitment.
Engage your core and step back with one leg so you are in a lunge position. Make sure your forward knee is properly aligned over the foot and your hips are squared. Bring your legs back to standing. Do not push off with back foot, use your glutes in your standing leg to complete this motion. Only lunge as far as is comfortable for you. It does not need to be a deep lunge.
Lateral Lunge: Activates the glutes and adductor muscles.
Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart. Step to the right, then shift your weight toward the right foot, bending your right knee and pushing your hips back. Your left leg should be as straight as possible. Reach for your right foot with your left hand. Push off with your right foot to return to starting position.
Zombie walk: Enhances hamstring mobility.
Swing your straight leg up to waist height while reaching for your toes with your opposite arm.
Grapevine: This drill loosens hip flexors and glutes and increases hip and leg and gluteal mobility while also using lateral strength required to run with good form.
As you move sideways, cross one leg over the other in front and then behind. Hold your arms out to the side to begin; as you start to get the hang of the drill, use your arms as you would while running.
Skipping: The plain old playground favorite is a great warm-up activity which uses your entire body particularly the calves.
Alternate left and right feet while emphasizing your arm activity. For extra oomph, try bounding up or skipping farther which each bound. This is a more advanced activity.
These are just some of the many warm-up exercises you can do. As with anything, if you have pain, stop and modify or skip the particular exercise. And as Coach has often said, don't leave your workout in the warm-up! Warm your body up easily and prepare for what is ahead.