Running can be more complex than it first seems. It is important to have the right pair of trainers and a good attitude, but there is far more to it than that. One of the most important, yet neglected, aspects of running is a proper warm up. Not only will it help you to avoid injury, but you’ll perform better. Here is everything you need to know about pre-run warm ups.


You must make sure your muscles are in the right condition before undergoing any strenuous exercise. If you don’t, they will be at higher risk of a strain or tear. Picking up an injury could prevent you from running for the foreseeable future so will have a big impact on your training regime. This is easily avoidable by going through a good warm up routine.

Pre-run warm ups are so named because they do warm your muscles. This has the benefit of speeding up your metabolic processes, helping you lose weight if that is your goal. It also lowers muscle velocity, allowing them to contract faster and stronger, therefore enhancing performance. The increased cardiac output boosts the oxygen intake, which will also aid your performance.


A gentle jogging warm up before you move to the pace you normally run at, will give you the movement you need to loosen up and help to warm up your muscles without overexertion. Aim to do a quick two-minute jog if you are only doing a shorter run or spend 10-20 minutes doing this if you are going on a longer one.


Pre-run stretches used to be known as the best way to help you prepare for a run. They are less highly recommended now as they can cause injuries, rather than preventing them. Stretching before your run isn’t as important as afterwards, but there are still warm up stretches that will benefit your muscles. The best stretches for runners are dynamic ones. Dynamic stretching means a stretch is performed by moving through a challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly. Try to mimic the kind of hip extension of an efficient running stride, as this will help increase your range of movement when you run.


Use these controlled leg movements to improve your range of motion and loosen up your muscles, as well as increasing your heart rate, body temperature and blood flow:

  • Front lunges: Keep the front knee lined up with the front foot and lunge forwards for five reps on each leg.
  • Twisting lunge: Do ten more reps of the above, but this time twist the top half of your body to the side you’re putting forward, to give even more of a warm up for your hip flexor muscles.
  • Side lunges: Lunging sideways, keeping your fixed leg straight for five reps per leg will target your abductor muscles.
  • Backwards lunges: Another five reps for each leg, this is the most difficult but gets your hips, ankles and glutes ready for the run.


More active stretches will offer further work to help get your body in peak condition for a run. If you are only going for a short run, you can still condense your warm up into no more than 5 minutes without putting yourself at risk of injury by following these exercises.

  • Squats: These are a great way of loosening up and activating your glutes. They can really open up your hips if you also add in hip rotations each time you stand up, alternating which leg you lift up and circling outwards.
  • Lunge and bends: Do the lunges as mentioned in the previous section but add in bends to the side for more stretching and cardio work.
  • Planking: Add something extra to your planking by alternating reps of lifting one knee to your chest.
  • Glute bridges: Effectively planking in reverse, lie on your back with your feet on the ground and lift your hips and hold in that position. You can also try adding knee drives.
  • Knees up and heels back: Jogging on the spot, alternate between lifting your knees and kicking back your heels, which will not only get your leg muscles working but is also great cardio.


Once you’ve jogged, stretched and done your drills – you can abbreviate any of these as suits you when warming up for a quick run. One last thing you can do to get you in prime condition for a run is a series of quick sprints, this high intensity exercise will prepare your body and put you at much less risk of muscle strains or tears. Try a series of 50m sprints, increasing the intensity each time from half speed up to almost full speed, and then you’ll be all set to go.


An important thing to remember is that no-one knows your body like you do. While we’ve given you some of the best pre-workout for running exercises and drills out there, it’s up to you to try them out and see which routine best suits you. After all, a warm up is designed to get you ready, not tire you out before you’ve started your run. Use trial and error to see which warm up regime is best for you personally, tailoring it to the type of run you’re planning to do.

Following these guidelines and working out what warm up is best for you will ensure you avoid all risk of injury and perform your best when running.