What’s wrong with your Running Warmup?

I’ve led running groups…

And I’ve taught fitness classes…

I precede with a warmup…

One group are silent, attentive and take things seriously…

The other group just laughs…

No prizes for guessing which group laughs…

Runners don’t take a warmup seriously

Few runners know anything when it comes to stretching and mobility.  A few half-hearted attempts at touching their toes or doing the splits.  Try to do any kind of movement in the upper body and they stare at you perplexed.

Should you stretch the upper body before running? Yes, absolutely!!

You breath with your upper body.

You move your arms, that’s your upper body.

Torso rotation is absolutely crucial to running.  Guess what.  That’s your upper body.

Therefore, a minimum 5-minute warmup is needed before going out for a run.  A warmup that involves the whole body.

3 reasons to warmup before running

Strangely, warming-up isn’t one of them because you can get warmer quicker by just starting your run.

  1. Start elevating the heart-rate gradually. Chances are your heart rate is still at 40% of its maximum and running takes you to about 70%. Hence,  the body will respond better by gradually taking it through the different heart-rate zones.  It’s great to use a GPS watch with an in-built heart-rate monitor.  With the technology now much-improved and out there for a few years now, prices have come down a lot, even below £100.  Check out this great deal from Tomtom.
  2. Stimulate the nervous system

Go straight into a run and the body may sense danger and initiate an unwanted adrenaline rush.  The body prefers to be gradually schooled into realising what is happening. Also movements like knee-repeaters and star jumps help enhance that interface between you and the ground and begins a nice process of biofeedback between your brain and your surroundings.

  1. Train your Range-Of-Motion

Chances are you have spent most of your day or previous night (for morning runners)  in one place.  Running requires you to take the joints through greater ranges of motion so better to train those ranges through things like butt kicks and high knees first. (Don’t forget your torso rotations).

If you don’t have a clue where to start then this video is a good beginning (minus some upper-body of course).  Some of the movements may even look weird to you but part of getting into the habit of warming up is to get over these insecurities.


You may have noticed that we don’t have any static stretches here whereby you stand still and hold them for long durations of time.  Studies have shown that something more movement-based is much more effective before an activity.  I know some readers may be more senior in age and come from a time when it was the norm to do static stretches before exercise.  This new trend, thankfully, is now more established.

I actually trained in a proper discipline relating to dynamic warmup called Intu-Flow under the guidance of an experienced trainer called Scott Sonnon.  It is really an amazing and life-changing approach to mobility and I thoroughly recommend his DVD.

This will really help you understand the true meaning of a functional warmup