Last Updated: March 10th, 2021
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate and an affiliate for some reputed brands, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost you. I may recieve a commission if you purchase something mentioned in this post. See more details here.
Most beginner runners think that warm-up is not necessary. On the contrary, if you warm up properly before your run you will find that the running becomes much easier and you will be able to perform better. This is the reason that experienced runners don’t skip their warm-up routine.
However, things get tricky when you not the basics like how to warm up? How long you should be warming up or what exercises to avoid…So, in this article, we go through all these so that you have a solid understanding of what you need to do when it comes to warm-up.
So, without further ado…let’s start…
How To Warm Up Before A Run?
To warm-up before a run, you have to mimic the basic movement of running at a lower intensity and then do some dynamic stretches for each part of your body especially the lower body. However, the warm-up routine will be large dictated by the amount of time you will have available for running.
Below we have provided you with a warm-up routine that is suitable even for beginner runners.
Warm Up With Walk And Jog Routine
Walking is one of the best ways to start your warm-up routine. This is very much like running but at a much lower intensity.
However, when you are walking, you should focus on a speed that will help you to warm up, that is, get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping. For that, you cannot walk like you are strolling in the park. This will be very low intensity and will take too much of your time to get you warmed up.
Instead, what you can try is to do brisk walking which is somewhere at the speed of 3 – 3.5 mph.
If you are using a treadmill for your morning runs, then you can easily set the speed at this level and get going.
However, if you are running outside, then you can set-up an interval timer or you can use your fitness band for the same. You may have to take a peek at your fitness watch to maintain the speed.
If you are a beginner runner, you may find it a bit of a challenge initially…however, after a couple of sessions you will get used to the pace and your body will guide you.
You should keep up with this walking for around 3 to 5 mins then transition yourself to jogging. By this time you should be feeling a little bit of warmth in your body and feeling more awake. Blood has started flowing through your veins and you could feel the difference.
With jogging your body will align itself for the more rigorous running to come later in the session. The speed level that you should maintain should be around 5-6 mph. You should continue with your jogging for another 3-5 mins.
Your walking and jogging session should last for at least 10 min. Once you feel you have sufficiently warmed up, start with the following exercises. If not you can jog for a couple of mins more. It all depends on how you feel…some will need more warm-up time than others…
Also, if you are crunched on time, you may skip the below routine a day or two, but don’t get into the habit as this will cause you more harm…
How to warm up your knees before a run?
To warm up your knees before a run, squats and their variations are the best. Also, you can perform forward and backward lunges along with some in-place light jumping.
Knees are one of the most vulnerable joints for runners. Warming them up properly will save you from a lot of injury and runner’s knees. Also, to strengthen them further, include some glute strengthening exercises.
Follow this knee warm-up routine:
- 10 forward and backward lunges.
- 10 sumo squats.
- 10 side-kick squats.
- 10 side lunges.
- 10 frog jumps.
Increase or decrease according to your fitness level. Also, if you are a beginner runner, start with lighter jumps. You can transition to frog jumps later.
How to warm up your calves before a run?
To warm up calves before a run you need to master some basic exercises like eccentric calf drops, plyometric jumps, and straight leg calf stretch. You can also do some forward bending that will stretch the calves and also your hamstrings.
If you don’t warm up your calves properly, you risk developing injuries like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.
Also, here is a basics calf warmup routine for runners:
- 40 eccentric heel drops (10 rounds, set of 4)
- 10 plyometric jumps
- 40 straight leg calf stretch for each leg (10 round, set of 4)
How to warm up your ankles before a run?
To warm up your ankles do the following routine before running.
- Ankle rotation (Clockwise and anti-clockwise)
- Balancing on one leg.
- Flexing and stretching your foot.
Ankle Rotation – You can sit down somewhere or can do it standing if you have sufficient balance. Just raise one foot off the ground and rotate it clockwise 10 times and anti-clockwise 10 times. Do it for 3 sets.
Balancing on one leg – Raise your left foot off the ground and try to balance on your right leg. If you have enough balance, combine it with ankle rotation. This way you will be done with two exercises at once. Repeat with the other leg.
Flexing and stretching your foot – Again get your left foot off the ground and flex your foot so that your toes are pointing towards the sky. Now flex the same foot downwards so that your toes are pointing towards the ground.
Do this 10 times for 3 rounds and for both the feet.
How to warm up feet before running?
Most of the exercises that we have covered for ankle warm-up will warm up your feet as well. However, apart from that, you can use the following exercises as your feet warm-up.
Standing plantar fasciitis stretch – For this, place the toes or end of your running shoes against a wall or curb, and start to lean forward until you start feeling a stretch under your foot. Keep going forward till you can bear it. Then lean back to release the stretch. Do this 10 times for 3 rounds for each foot.
Kneeling Toe Stretch – This exercise will help you improve your big toe’s flexibility and mobility. Sit back on your heels for 30 secs. Make sure that your toes remain tucked under and on the ground. Do this for 3 rounds.
How to warm up before a cold run?
To warm-up during winter, use more dynamic overall body movements for warm-ups. Here is the routine your should follow:
- Neck rolls
- Ear to shoulder
- Hands over your shoulder stretch.
- Hand over chest stretch.
- Arm rotations.
- Wrist rolls.
- Wrist flex and stretch.
- Hip circles.
- Knee circles.
- Ankle warm-up routine from above.
- Toe warm-up routine from above.
- Leg swings to front, back, and side.
- Jumping jacks.
- In-place butt kicks.
- In-place high knees.
- Front Lunges.
- Side Lunges.
- Squat jumps.
- Back lunges.
These may seem a lot, but this will give you a nice warm-up if you perform them for 3-5 mins. Also, it is focused on your whole body, as during winter, your whole body tends to stiffen up and any part which is not loosened up may land you in trouble.
How should I warm up for a 1-mile run?
Warming up for a 1-mile run is no different than warming up for longer distances. The point of a warm-up is to be able to get your blood flowing. Follow the same routine from above to warm-up for a 1-mile run.
However, since this is a shorter run you may skip the jogging part. Just walk for 5 min and do the dynamic stretching to pump your blood…
Otherwise, you may follow this warmup routine also:
How long should you warm-up before running?
You should warm-up for at least 5 min and at most 20 min on most of the days. However, the amount of time you spend depends on your body and the time available to you on that day. Also, if you are sore from the previous day’s training then you may need more time to warm up properly.
For me it is around 10 mins around most of the days however, for some runners in my group it is somewhere around 20 mins. It all depends on you and your body.
Also, there is one other factor that may dictate the time you need to warm-up for that day. It is the temperature of that day. If it is winter and really cold, you may find that you need more time to warm up than on a hot summer day.
This is also true if you run later in the day than run in the morning. For mornings you would need more warm-up as your body may be stiffer from the night before and need to be broken in first.
However, if you workout later in the day, you are already moving around and your body has already loosened up…So, you can reduce the time you workout, but don’t skip it altogether as this may not be good for your performance.
What stretches to do before a run?
You should do all the stretches that I’ve provided you above. However, if you are looking for a short dynamic workout, you can always do this one…
This is the one with which I got started and is great for beginners…
What happens if you don’t warm up before running?
When you warm-up you gradually increase your heart rate and your lungs also get gradually warmed up for the intense exercise to come.
However, if you start running without going through a proper warm-up, you will be putting a lot of stress on both of these organs.
Also, you open yourself up for a lot of injuries like plantar fasciitis, pulled muscles, Achilles tendonitis, or twisted ankles. At the very least, you will not be able to reach the pace level that you wanted to or you may not be able to sustain the pace.
You will also see a noticeable dip in your energy and motivational level (for me at least).
So, warming up is not optional, it is mandatory for everyone who wants to have a wholesome run. It’s ok to skip a day or two here and there, but it is not ok if you make it a habit.
Does warming up make you run faster?
Yes, warming up makes you run faster. This is all related to muscle viscosity (or resistance). With warm-up, the temperature of your muscles rises and so does the blood flow to it. This reduces the overall resistance of the muscle.
Hence, its movements become more uninhibited and you perform better or as in this case, you run faster.
Brown, Peter I., Michael G. Hughes, and Richard J. Tong. “The effect of warm-up on high-intensity, intermittent running using nonmotorized treadmill ergometry.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22.3 (2008): 801-808.
Kaufmann, D.A. and Ware, W.B., 1977. Effect of warm-up and recovery techniques on repeated running endurance. Research Quarterly. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 48(2), pp.328-332.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.