Warm Up Drills for Runners!

Coach Casey · April 30, 2021

Any running coach worth their salt will preach the importance of a proper warm up. Before any run, workout, or race, a properly executed warm up is key for getting your body and mind ready to go. Not only does a warm up routine and a set of dynamic warm up drills help you feel better during your run or workout, but it also drastically decreases the chances of you becoming injured. Selecting the right warm up drills for runners, and doing them properly, can help increase performance and development and decrease injury risk. The professional coaches at Charge Running have put together a list of their 7 favorite warm up drills for runners! Each one is guaranteed to help you on your way to your personal running goals!

7 Warm Up Drills for Runners

1. A Skips

A Skips are an absolutely fundamental dynamic warm up drill for runners. Whether you’re a distance runner or sprinter, or anything in between, this drill is a key component of your preparation. Not only does it serve to dynamically engage all the important lower body components (glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, calf muscles, hamstrings), but it also trains your body to be mechanically sound. By drilling A Skips with tall posture, dorsiflex feet, and foot position under your hips, your body begins to learn those key running form fundamentals. 

2. Backwards Skips

This is not overly complicated. Think of this simply as those great, well executed A Skips just in a backwards direction. Same muscle activation. Same mechanical training, just with a bit more glute warm up. This is a great dynamic warm up drill to pair directly with A Skips Additionally, by going backwards, counter to your normal direction of movement, this drill forces you to pay more attention to each motion, providing a more focused execution.  

3. Carioca/Crossovers

Lateral movement can be incredibly beneficial for distance runners. Not only does this increase your body/kinesthetic awareness, it also helps improve your balance. You’ll also get some great hip flexor, groin, and gluteus minimus activation. The key is to keep your torso and hips in a neutral position (videos of which were hard to come by). Don’t turn your hips and shoulders side to side as you move. Think of every motion as reminiscent of your ideal running form. Do you want to be swinging your hips as you run? Are you aiming to shimmy your shoulders mile after mile? How you approach each one of your dynamic warm up drills in terms of body position reflects on your overall running form.

4. Toe Walks/Heel Walks

Balance and lower leg stretching and strengthening. These small, simple movements for about 20 meters each before every run can make a BIG difference. Adding toe walks and heel walks into your dynamic warm up drills takes no time at all and provides long-term positive effects. These drills increase balance as well as help you activate your calves, stretch your achilles tendon and ultimately provide more lower leg stability. Considering the importance of having a strong, explosive toe-off in your running strides, these two drills are a must! 

5. Walking Knee Hugs

As much as anything, Walking Knee Hugs are about stretching and truly warming up versus training specific running mechanics. That does not mean it’s any less important for a dynamic warm up drills routine as runners. Over time this drill will not only stretch and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors but will help you increase your hip flexion and extension in your running as well. Additionally, any one-legged drill in motion helps that balance (since running is really a one-legged activity) and trains your tall running posture. 

6. Walking Hamstring Stretch

Similar to the Walking Knee Hugs, the Walking Hamstring Stretch is more a warm up than a mechanical drill. Also with an element of balance, this is not a drill that should be rushed. Take your time extending down to your toes and back up to your tall position. Find the position that provides the best stretch and really slow it down at that point. Be sure that you’re working on keeping you head and chest up as much as possible to really eventuate the hamstring stretch.

7. Power Skips 

Last, but certainly not least. Power Skips are one of the most explosive and dynamic warm up drills for runners. While runners aren’t known for their vertical leap abilities (decreased power output due to mileage volume), this is the opportunity to certainly channel your inner-NBA star! Getting the proper knee drive and ankle flexion and exploding up towards the sky feels good! Be sure that you’re keeping both feet positioned under your hips as much as possible. Maintain that tall, stacked running posture through the head, shoulders, and hips. Have some fun here. Who knows, you may discover more vertical than you ever though possible!

Looking for more tips for all things running? Join Charge Running today and get unlimited access to live, real-time coaching from professional running coaches and a community of like-minded athletes! 

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