Anna Weber is a two-time Olympic Trial Qualifier in the Marathon and today is sharing with us her pre-race and pre-workout warm-up routine. Enjoy.
An often-overlooked part of running and racing is a proper warm up. After all, who wants to prepare for hard running with…more running!? However, a set warm-up routine is not only good for the body but also good for the mind. Here, I will go through my personal warm-up routine and provide tips for getting the most out of your workouts and races.
Why Warm Up?
Most of the energy you will use during your run is expended when transitioning the body from its basal level into exercise. Your skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems all must quickly adapt, which is why many runners don’t feel great until they are 10 - 20 minutes into a run, once all their systems have “awakened”. A dedicated warm-up helps ease the body into running, which can decrease injury risk and improve performance.
How Should I Warm Up?
The answer to this question depends largely on the intensity of your exercise. At a bare minimum, your body requires at least 7 minutes to be fully warm up for easy-to-moderate exercise, with more time required for vigorous efforts.
Before a Race or Workout
Your warm-up before a race or workout should be more vigorous, because it is harder to go from a standstill to race pace. A thorough warm up activates important muscle groups like the glutes and hamstrings, while also prepping your cardiovascular system for the miles ahead.
I suggest performing the same warm up routine before every race and workout because not only will you feel more at-ease on race day with a set routine, but your body will learn to associate your routine with fast running.
My personal warm up routine is always the same. I run an easy 1 – 2 miles, then perform leg swings, drills, and then run some strides.
For leg swings,I first stand facing a fence or other solid object and gently swing my leg back and forth, allowing gravity to help open my hips and loosen the surrounding muscles. Next, I turn and swing my leg back and forth, helping to open my hip flexors and glutes.
Below is a video by Jay Johnson showing how to execute leg-swings for more visual learners.
After leg swings, I go through the same drill routine: A-walk, A-skip, B-skips, and C-skip. I will briefly explain each of these drills, but it’s important to remember to do what works best for you and your body, not necessarily what anyone else does! If you are unsure whether you are doing these drills properly, take a video of yourself and ask someone. Doing these drills improperly is worse than not doing them at all. To see A-skip, B-skip, and C-skip in action, watch this video below.
A drill that incorporates walking, such as A-walk, is a great way to gently warm up and activate your muscles before engaging in more vigorous drills. For A-walk:
Next is A-skips, which is similar to A-walk, but with skipping. For A-skip:
This drill kicks your cardiovascular system up a notch while also promoting blood flow throughout your body.
The next drill is B-skips, which wakes up your hamstrings. For B-skip:
Until you are comfortable with the motion of B-skip, it’s best to try this drill out while walking or standing first.
I end the drill portion of my warm up with C skip, which is a great hip and adductor opener. The movement here is the same as A-skip, however, instead of driving your leg forward, you will drive your leg at a 45o angle from your body. Again, I recommend practicing this while walking or standing before moving on to skipping.
The final step of my pre-race or pre-workout routine is 4 – 8 x 100 m strides. Strides will prime your body for fast running by putting all the pieces together now that all your systems are activated. For strides, run approximately 80% effort (think mile race pace) for 20 – 30 seconds while maintaining good form. Take time to catch your breath before running your next stride.
Here is a video laying out strides again for more visual learners:
This entire warm up routine takes me approximately 20 – 25 minutes to complete. Before a race, I start this routine 45 minutes before I have to report to the starting line.
As a couple of final important reminders, never try anything new on race day. Whatever you do before a race you should be practicing before your workouts. Having the same warm up routine also helps ready your mind and allow you to slip into “autopilot” before a race. I find that my body simply knows it is time to run fast any time I go through this routine, which is comforting.
How do you know if you are doing too much, versus not enough? You should go to the starting line of your race or workout with a slightly elevated heartrate and just beginning to sweat. If your legs feel heavy at the beginning of your race but better toward the end, you likely are not warmed up properly.
Ultimately, a warm up routine is personal and may require trial and error, but once a runner finds what works best, she will be primed for her fastest running yet
Thanks, Anna. If you have any questions, you can find Anna on Instagram @anna_weber413 or leave a question below and we'll make sure Anna sees it.