Don’t feel bad if you’re not doing any sort of warm-up before you train or race! You’re one of about 75% of runners in the same category. But is it worth the extra time and effort? The answer is an unequivocal “YES”. Research suggests you’ll get less post-run muscle soreness, improve your performance, and possibly help to avoid injuries. So how much warming up is enough? While research studies often look at 20 minutes, I’m a runner with a busy life too and realise that this is probably not feasible. I’m confident you can prep the body and achieve these outcomes in just 5 minutes with the following 5 moves, each for 1 minute.
1) Light jog
A nice, easy jog for a minute at about 50% effort will get the heart rate turning over, start to increase your blood flow to the important running muscles, and “fire up the engine”.
2) Walking straight leg kick
Keeping your left knee slightly bent, raise your left leg out in front and touch your toes with right hand. Return to the start position and repeat with the right. You should walk slowly forward throughout this exercise, repeating for 1 minute. This is a stellar dynamic stretch and activation exercise for your hamstrings and glutes, introducing a nice little bit of trunk rotation at the same time.
3) Walking lunge with rotation
Completed slowly and deliberately, take a large step with your left leg and bend the front knee to about 70 degrees. At the same time, twist your body gently to the left. Then repeat with the right leg forwards, rotating the trunk to the right. Thus exercise will fire up your quads and trunk controllers, switch on your balance systems, and increase blood flow to the gluteals.
4) Butt kicks
A little more dynamic, complete 3 x 15 seconds of gentle running, concentrating on kicking your butt as you take your leg behind you. Take a brief 5 second rest between sets. You’re now really switching your system on, firing up your heart rate a little more, and dynamically stretching the quadriceps.
5) High knees
Finally, 3 x 15 seconds of gentle running, concentrating on bringing your knees up high in front of you on each step. Again, take a short 5 second break between sets. This dynamic stretch of the gluteals also gets the quadriceps ready for your run and warms up the knees just a little more in preparation.