Days 6 & 7: Warm Up or Just Run?

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Veterans…this is not new, in fact only a few months old…but it never hurts to hear it again, right?

Newbies…please read…this is good stuff and it will make a difference in our long runs!

Running involves sacrifices. We sacrifice time with our family and friends, sleep, fun nights out, and sometimes even a fun night in after a hard day at work…all because we need to get in our miles.

So when we step out the door to start our run, of course we just want to start running!

This rush to get it going can mean the difference between a great long run and a soul crushing, painful long run…and it could spell disaster in the form of an injury.

Most runners want to get faster and avoid injury. This is where we really have to weigh out how best to spend the time we have for running. Faced with a choice of either

A: Run for 10 minutes longer


B: Do a 5-10 minute warm-up. Which would you choose?

I’d put money on you choosing A.

A pre-run warm up does take a few of those precious running minutes but if it means the difference between a good run and a bad run, and the ability to stay injury free, isn’t it worth it?

You say, “Ok, but I do a nice slow warm up jog before I really get going.” For most runners, this slow paced first mile is thought to be enough to prepare the body for what it is about to endure, and some runners seem to get by on just this, but whether they are forsaking some of their true potential is another question. The point is, given that 30- 80% of runners (depending on the source) get injured every year, maybe we shouldn’t put so much faith in what the masses do?

Think about this question posed by,

If I asked you to at this moment to perform two thousand hops for me, you would probably question whether your legs are up to the task. And yet, running is essentially that – an extended series of hopping from one leg to the other whilst trying to minimise ground contact time (with some help from gravity, depending on the efficiency of your running form), dealing with forces of around 2.5 times your body weight each time your foot hits the ground. An easy mile at a 12-minute pace involves approximately 1,951 steps (hops), compared to 1,064 for a 6-minute-mile (Boise State University). Are you still happy to leave your house and go straight into an easy mile warm up?

For a distance runner, there is no doubt that improving your aerobic capacity is crucial. The more oxygen your muscles are able to utilise as you run, the more energy you will have and the faster you will be able to run over that distance.

However, the aerobic system is only one of two factors involved in developing running performance. The other is neuromuscular fitness, the ability of your brain to communicate and activate muscles while you are running.

Traditional training focuses on developing the efficiency of the heart, lungs, and muscles, but it is your brain that controls all of these. Your running form, efficiency, economy, power, stride length, stride frequency and ultimately your ability to combat fatigue are all neuromuscular in nature. And none of them will be developed just by focusing on aerobic fitness.

Maybe most important, it is likely that poor form, efficiency, economy and fatigue are major factors in injury. So instead of thinking of your warm up as time wasted “not running”, think of your warm up as an opportunity to “switch your brain on” and to “wake up” the communication between your brain and muscles in preparation for a safe run. A chance to practice movement patterns that promote a more efficient running form which can delay the fatigue and pain that has been holding you back and opening you up to injuries!

If you go straight into an easy paced mile as a warm-up, you run the risk of launching into 1,951 poorly performed slow hops, perfect preparation for 1,200 to 1,500 poorly performed faster hops every mile once you dial up the pace.

All this to say that this weekend, we are still doing our leg swings and hip hurdles, but we are also adding a few more key moves to wake up our muscles AND our brain. We’re going to turn on the communication between our systems that will allow us to run more efficiently and safer for the long road ahead of us.

Sounds good right? Here we go! 🙂

For most of us, these warms up moves are nothing new (I hope you’re doing them!) but since we have a plethora of new Crew members, we’re going through the basics again. Detailed explanations and/or videos and pictures are below.

***Side Note: If you run with a group and you can’t make your whole group do these warm up drills (it would be really cool if you did!) then what do you do? Show up 5-10 minutes early and get in your warm up!***

Day 6 exercises: It looks like a lot but it really only takes a few minutes to run through the warm up drills, 2 minutes for the post run strength work then as long as you want with your legs up the wall, rolling and stretching! (Lots of info below on everything in this list)

  • Hip Hurdles
  • Lunge Matrix
  • Leg Swings
  • Long Runs
  • :60 Wall Sit & :60 Plank (Yes right after your long run – performing these exercises on tired legs and a tired core makes it all that much more BADDA$$! 🙂
  • Legs Up the Wall (5-15 minutes)
  • Roll – If you are not sure the best way to roll check out the video below!
  • Stretch – 7 Key Stretches for Runners

Day 7 exercises:

  • :60 Plank
  • :60 Wall Sit
  • Active Recovery – Short easy run (2-3 miles EASY), walk, swim (I know it’s kinda cold for this right now…), bike ride, play in the yard (or snow) with your kids!
  • Yoga for Runners – Options below
  1. Yoga for Runners – “Unknot Yourself”
  2. Yoga for Runners – “Tight Hips & Legs”
  3. Yoga Poses for Runners

Pre-Run Warm Ups:

Hip Hurdles: The video below uses a hurdle as a prop to swing you leg over, but the prop is not necessary. You can use a chair, the side of your bed, anything that you can reach up and around. If you are out on the road getting ready to run, you can just “pretend” there is a hurdle there. Pull your leg up and over as high as you can to activate your hips and get them ready to move!

Lunge Matrix: The “Lunge Matrix” involves a variety of stimulating moves that require concentration, which is key to stimulating the brain. This means working muscles in all three planes of movement – forwards & backwards (sagittal plane), sideways (frontal plane) and rotational (transverse plane). The Lunge Matrix does this. Since it is the first thing you are going to do before anything else, it is important that you start with small dip “baby” lunges until you feel the body beginning to  warm-up. Once you do feel warmer and the knees are ready to flex to 90 degrees, ten lunges for each of the five versions below is generally sufficient.

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Leg Swings: So simple and so effective. These are dynamic warm up moves you should never leave out of your warm up.

Leg Swings – Forward, backward and sideways


Post Run: :60 Wall Sit & :60 Plank

Legs Up the Wall: The best thing about this recovery move is its ease. All you have to do is find a wall, lie perpendicular with your butt up against that wall, extend your legs up, open your arms out to the side, and relax. No fancy equipment necessary. You don’t even have to do it for long, 5 – 15 minutes at most.

The pose helps reverse the typical actions that happen in our lower bodies as we sit and stand all day, and it’s especially useful right after a workout. It’s best to do this move as soon as you can after a workout (within 30 minutes) because having your legs warmed up and your veins dilated will make circulation to the rest of your body easier. In essence, this inverted pose aids your overall recovery by draining fluids that are pooling in your legs, while also stretching your hamstrings and relieving a worn out lower body.

Throwing your legs up a wall creates a positive circular flow to your core. Circulation matters when it comes to recovery because lactic acid and waste don’t leave your body very quickly and being in an inverted position helps it to drain faster.

Here’s how to do it: Lie down on your back and try to get your butt as close to the wall as possible, extending your legs up, perpendicular to the floor. Open your arms to the sides, palms up. Flex your feet for an added hamstring stretch. If that’s too uncomfortable, you can scoot away a bit so your legs are at an easier angle.

You’ll reap the benefits holding this position anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Start out small with 5-8 minutes and work your way to holding it for longer. The hardest part about this move is making the time and letting your mind relax when you have lots of other things to get to. And let’s face it, you just spent lots of time running and we all have other things to do.

You should notice less soreness and tightness after your harder runs and workouts and discovering a way to have a less creaky neck and better posture are also a nice added benefits.

Yes fellas, this move is for you too. We will all benefit from adding this to our routine regularly. Give it a try!

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Rolling and Stretching: Last but certainly not least, and for most of us VERY important…roll and stretch! As we inch closer to the weekend, now is the time to take a few extra minutes with your roller then stretching out those limbs. You know how to do it, but if you need a reminder below is a great video to show you the most important areas to roll and the best order to do it in. Oh….and here’s a link to our 7 Key Stretches for Runners! 🙂

That’s all for now. I know it was a lot but I hope you got some good info out of this and I hope you make a little extra time this weekend for pre-run warm up and post run recovery!


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