Home Warmup Routine (Before a Run)

MaryBeth is the head coach at OnWard Run Coaching. MaryBeth is a life-long runner but stepped up her commitment after the birth of her kids and has run everything from 5ks to marathons. She lives in Buffalo, NY.

Below MaryBeth is going to walk us through her warmup routine prior to a run.


When I first started running (many, MANY years ago), I was young, bright-eyed and a bit naïve. Each day I’d throw on my sneakers and head out. My idea of a warmup was putting my hair in a ponytail and tying my shoes. Why waste energy exercising, just to go out and exercise? I could run just the same, and I felt fine afterward.

Of course, we know how that progressed, right? My thirteen-year-old body was up for any movement, any time; my now-forty-something-year-old body needs a little more coaxing to get rolling! Further, I find now when I warm up properly before a run, I tend to recover more quickly afterward as well.

It’s not just for my aging body and mind, though; doing a proper warmup gradually increases your heart rate, gets the blood flowing through your muscles to improve elasticity, readies your brain for the work ahead, and encourages proprioception. In other words, taking a little bit of time to move, align, stretch and strengthen can improve how you feel and perform on your run—and is great for runners of ANY age. The best part? You won’t have to carve out much extra time to get huge benefits from your warmup! I find ten to fifteen minutes worth of movement sets me up and I’m ready to roll.

If you’re short on time, put together a combination of these exercises:

  • 10 jumping jacks
  • 10 high-knees/10 glute kicks
  • 10 air squats/bodyweight squats
  • 10 trunk rotations (twist torso side to side, keeping lower body static)
  • 10 knee-to-chest, each leg (pull one knee towards chest, wrap arms around knee, give it a hug!)

If you have some extra time, add these banded exercises to get your “running muscles” firing and to build stability and strength. These exercises can be used with a resistance band or without if you are just getting started.

  • Banded clamshells: Place the resistance band above your knees, lie on one side and keep your hips pressed forward (think of a bridge in yoga; hips are in line with each other and pressing forward, glutes are engaged). With your heels touching, open your top knee away from the bottom, pressing through the outside of the top hip. Slowly lower back to the start, keeping your hips pressed forward and core engaged. Repeat for 8-10 on each side.
  • Banded side steps with weight shift: I like to use two resistance bands for this exercise; one above my knees and one across my feet. If you choose only one, place the band above your knees. Keep hips forward and level, step your left foot to the side, shifting your body weight onto that foot. Pick up your right foot to step it towards the left, and when you land shift your weight to the right foot. Do 8-10 steps in each direction. IMPORTANT! While shifting your weight, keep your hips level, and work to not “hitch” one hip higher than the other (See last picture). You’ll notice as you fatigue, your body will want to hitch your hip to help you step. This is where the work happens!
  • Banded lunge-to-knee-up: With the and above your knees, get into a standing lunge position, one leg back and one leg in front. Drive your back knee forward and up, coming up onto the ball of the standing leg, pumping your arms in a running motion. Repeat this 8-10 times each side.
  • Do a quick check-in to see If there are any parts that need a little extra attention, give them what they need. You may need to roll a lacrosse ball under your foot, roll a tennis ball under your shoulders, foam roll your hamstrings or just repeat an exercise or two.

Notice when you head out for your run how much better you feel, right off the line. Who says we can’t be kids again? Well, at least we can feel like a kid. Have fun out there!

Mary Beth Scott
Head Coach, Onward Run Coaching
Instagram: @onward_runcoach

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