Warming up to recreational running!!

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By Emmet Magee

The Recreational Runner: a warm up & cool down guide For the Couch to 5k, Parkrun or long-distance runners out there!

In previous months we have offered advice and tips – check out our earlier blog posts on avoiding running related injuries & strategies to prevent injury, which this article hopes to supplement!

Keep it Dynamic!

By this we mean, keep your warm up to continuous movements at a slower pace before your run. This promotes blood flow & ensures functional mobility for the run ahead.

This has been supported with research indicating that a dynamic warm up significantly improved eccentric quadriceps strength and hamstrings flexibility, whereas a static stretching warm-up did not facilitate any positive or negative changes in muscle flexibility, strength, power, or vertical jump (1).

So, a dynamic warm up = increased performance during your run!

Some dynamic movements to complete before your run:

  • Light warm up jog or brisk walk

1) Hamstring kicks (x10 each leg)


2) Opening the gate hip mobility (x10 each leg)

Running 3

3) Standing glute stretch with jog in between (x10 each leg with 3 second hold)

Running 4

4) Single leg RDL (x10 each leg)

Runnning 5

Now, let’s throw in some further exercises to keep those running related injuries away!

  • Squats (x10)
  • Lunges (x10 each side)
  • Calf raises (x10)

And finally, add in some Plyometrics!

Plyometrics are exercises that are rapid & explosive in nature which are used to develop power. Research suggests that they are also associated with a significant reduction in endurance run times & an increase in explosive performance (2).

Pogo hops (3 x 10 seconds)

Here, you are basically jumping up & down in quick succession.


Running 7

Cooling down…

Firstly, a gentle cool down jog to reduce your heart rate.

Now, here is where you can add in some static stretching. Benefits of stretching after your run include decreased muscle stiffness, improved joint range of motion and a decreased risk of injury.

Research supports holding the stretch for at least 15-20 seconds for optimal results (3). A mild discomfort may occur, but sharp or intense pain should be avoided. Find a stretch that works for you & ensure you cover most muscle groups involved during your run including:

  • Groins
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calf muscles

Happy running!

  1. Aguilar, A.J et al. (2012) ‘A Dynamic Warm-up Model Increases Quadriceps Strength and Hamstring Flexibility’, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(4), pp. 1130 – 1141.
  2. Ramírez-Campillo, R. et al. (2014) ‘Effects of Plyometric Training on Endurance and Explosive Strength Performance in Competitive Middle- and Long-Distance Runners’, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1), pp. 97 – 104.
  3. American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2018.
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