A Better Pre-Run Warm-Up: 5 Moves in 20 Minutes

Remember, the main reason to do the warm-up run is to increase core temperature, as the aerobic enzymes in your body work more efficiently in a warmer environment. But once you accomplish that, I'd rather see you move more dynamically as you get closer to the start of the workout. Skip for four sets, where the motion with the legs isn't so much an up-and-down skip for height as it is a shuffling of the feet, with the elevation of each skip staying low. We skip one way for 50 meters, and back the other way for 50 meters.

I share this only to get you to think about adding three to four minutes of dynamic exercises to your warm-up routine—it doesn't have to be skipping, but it does need to be full body. You'll feel better, get your heart rate elevated, and be ready for the final element of a proper warm-up: strides.

More: Before You Run: The Dynamic Warm-Up

Warm-Up Move #4: Strides

The key to strides is simple—they need to be performed at a pace faster than the pace you're going to run for your workout. So let's say you're a four-hour marathoner and you're running Yasso 800s. If you're a four-hour marathoner, then you're probably a sub-25:00 5K runner. That means you run just under 8:00 pace for a 5K. So, to get ready for your Yasso 800 workout, if you run strides at 5K pace—100 meters in 29 to 30 seconds—that's perfect.

More: How to Run Yasso 800s

But what some runners forget to do is build up to faster strides when doing a 5K workout. Let's say your coach has you doing 15 x 400m at 5K pace. To feel good on that first 400-meter repeat, you'll need to do your 100m stride faster than 5K pace (faster than the pace you'll be working out at). 

Now, you might not feel good on the first 100m stride, so you can do four or five of them, each getting a bit faster. Just make sure that the fourth or fifth one is faster than 5K pace. 

More: How to Run at the Right Pace

The reason you want to run the strides faster than the pace you'll be working out at is the neuromuscular system needs to be pushed a bit if you want the workout to feel doable. You want to recruit more muscle fibers, and more fast-twitch fibers, in the warm-up. You won't recruit as many fibers during the first repetition of the workout, which is exactly the phenomenon you want. This will allow the pace of the first repeat to feel good.

The recovery between the strides should be fairly short since you're only running 100m at 5K pace (you're running 1/50th of a 5K for the stride). One way to do it is to run 100m on the straights of a track, then shuffle-jog the curve, then do your next 100m on the next straight. You can do longer distances such as 150m or even 200m, but I find that 100m is enough for most runners to feel ready for the workout.

I know this sounds like a lot, but when you compare it to a typical 20-minute run and some strides, this warm-up takes the same amount of time.

More: 6 Yoga Warm-Up Moves That Get You Ready to Run

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