I’ve never really been in to warming up. I mean, they always made us in gymnastics and track but it never really appealed all that much to me. Once I was free from coaches, I was a no-warm-up type of girl. This worked for me for a while. I’d show up to a race, drink some coffee and take my usual 20 port-a-potty visits before the gun, and then just run the thing.
This past year has given me a run for my money in terms of injuries and tightness. I’ve had a fair share of psychological and physical stress that has left my body a wee-bit tight (read, every inch of my body has at one point coiled into a clenched up ball).
After spending the latter part of spring and most of the summer allowing my body to heal, I knew I had to make some changes once I began running again. Adding a warm up to my runs has proved to be invaluable. Before each run, I do a series of exercises that are focused on loosening the joints as opposed to stretching the muscles.
Here’s my 5 minute pre-run juicer:
Hip circles– 15 each direction:
- Stand with feet hip width apart.
- Draw circles with your hips
Knee circles –15 each directions:
- Stand with feet about sit-bone distance apart
- Bend your knees, places your hands on your thights/just above your knees
- Draw circles with your knees
Spine juice–30 total:
- Stand straight and tall with your feet hip width apart
- Place your hands behind your head, elbows out
- Gently twist to the left and look at your right heal
- Twist to the right and look at your left heal (that’s 2).
- Inhale right, exhale left
Ankle poppers–15 each ankle
You can do this sitting down or standing up. If you choose to sit:
- Grab one foot and gently draw circles—make sure to go in both directions!
- Repeat on second foot
Standing up (my preferred method):
- Press through the top of your foot, toes folded under
- Make circles
Leg swings– 15 forward, 15 side (both legs)
- stand holding the back of a chair or a wall
- Swing one leg forward and backawards, allowing it to swing freely and as high in each direction as comfortable
- Repeat on both sides
Swing one leg across your body and then out to the side
My new thing, which sort of makes me feel like an old lady but has been so helpful, is starting every run with 3-5 minutes of walking. At first I felt like such a granny but now I actually look forward to it—it helps me transition both mentally and physically into my run.