QT: Customize Your Warm-Up Routine and Your Body Will Thank You

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What does your pre-run warm-up routine look like?

I’ve talked about the value of a dynamic warm-up at least a few times, and I may have mentioned the lunge matrix and leg swings at least once or twice.

But if I’m honest? Encouraging everyone to do lunges and leg swings sounds an awful lot like one-size-fits-all advice.

And you know where I stand on that front…

A Good Warm-Up Routine is Still a Good Thing

Let’s get on the same page about one thing right from the drop: you’re better off warming up before a run than not warming up.

Ultimately, I suppose, it comes down to getting your body ready for your run in a whole host of ways.

Increasing your heart rate. Sending blood to your muscles. Lubricating your joints. Waking up certain muscles so they are ready to fire.

That’s hardly a conclusive list, but those are some of the ways that your warm-up will help you get ready for a run while also helping to reduce your risk of injury.

Just because, in theory, we are all trying to get the same thing from our warm-up routine doesn’t mean we all need to do the same thing.

Figuring out what you need is the first step to making your warm-up routine your own.

What Do You Need from Your Warm-Up?

This may seem pretty straightforward at first, but this question is actually a little trickier than it may appear.

The fact is that one warm-up routine may not be enough for you.


Based on how you’re feeling and what your run is going to look like, tweaking/adjusting your warm-up is probably a good idea.

When you run is also going to impact your warm-up.

Lots of things to consider when it comes to helping you customize your warm-up to give you what you need on the day.

A Few Examples

In the high likelihood that I’m not making my point as clearly as I’d like, how about a few examples to hopefully help this make a little more sense to you?

Time of Day

Let’s start with when you’re running and how that may impact what you need from your warm-up.

If you’re like me and you more or less roll out of bed and out the door, a good warm-up should be a non-negotiable.

After a night of sleep, your body isn’t exactly primed at ready for physical activity.

Maybe I’m the only one that feels a bit like the tin man some mornings?

My warm-up serves as my oil can to help make sure my body is ready to get out there and get after it.

But what if you don’t run until later in the day. What if you’re one of those mythical “after-work” runners?

I’m not saying that you wouldn’t benefit from a warm-up of some sort, but it’s foolish to think that your body is in the same state when you’ve been awake for hours as it is when you’ve been awake for minutes.

In this case, a shorter warm-up is probably more than adequate.

What Your Body Needs

Do you have any specific areas that tend to be trouble spots for you?

Perhaps a little extra focus on those areas during your warm-up would be a good idea.

Let’s say, for example, you’re not sure your glutes are really firing like they should while you’re running.

A great way to get your glutes firing during your run is to get them firing before you start running.

So making sure to get a few minutes of glute-focused activity might be more important for you than it is for another runner who has no concerns about their glutes doing their thing.

And if you have a little niggle that you’re working through, you definitely want to make sure that area is ready to go before you head out the door.

Since I’ve been dealing with my itis, I’ve made sure to spend an extra minute or two every morning doing some ankle mobility exercises to help loosen up my Achilles and calf a little bit more than my standard routine.

If you have any niggly areas now or in the future, showing those areas a little extra love pre-run is probably a good call.

What You’re Getting Into

The run or workout you have planned is also going to make a difference in what your warm-up should look like.

Just heading out for a handful of easy miles?

You can probably get away with a pretty simple warm-up.

But if you’re planning a pretty strenuous effort? Dropping the hammer on some hard repeats? Or toeing the line for a race?

You probably want to make your warm-up a little more intense so that you’re ready to get after it right from the drop.

Customize Your Warm-Up, Just Don’t Skip It

A good warm-up is an important part of a good run, at least as far as I can tell.

So don’t skip it, ok?

Adjusting it as needed is fine, just get it done.

Your body will thank you.

Customize your warm-up routine based on what you need to be ready for your run or race. #runchat Click To Tweet

How Often Do You Customize Your Warm-Up Routine?

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