A complete stretching routine before a run will improve your endurance and range of motion, lowering the chances of cramps and improving blood flow for the moment the whistle blows. This running warm-up by Prime Sports Institute will get you ready for the big race in about 5 minutes.
All you need is a space about 10 meters long and something sturdy to brace against. No exercise equipment needed, making it perfect for prepping for a marathon. Follow along with the video or see the step-by-step instructions below:
1. Jumping Jacks (20 sec)
Get your blood moving with a quick jumping jack routine. Start by standing in place, then jump into X formation, arms up and legs out. Keep jumping back and forth between the two positions until you feel ready for more.
2. Standing Knee to Chest (10m)
As with the majority of the following exercises, the standing knee to chest is performed while walking along a 10-meter path. For each step, raise one leg, pressing your knee gently toward your chest using the opposing arm for support, activating your hip muscles.
3. Walking Backwards (10m)
With your back straight, walk backwards toe to heel. This exercise stretches the glutes, or gluteal muscles, which reach from the buttocks to the upper thighs.
4. Standing Abduction Leg Swings (12 reps per leg)
Standing in place, reach one leg straight out to one side and back down. Perform three leg swings per leg before switching to the other side. Keep your back straight, facing forward.
5. Tip-Toe with Big Arm Circles (10m)
While walking on your toes, make large circles with your arms, using your shoulders’ full range of motion.
6. Heel Walking with Reverse Big Arm Circles (10m)
Turn it around by walking on your heels instead of your toes, rotating your arms in the opposite direction.
7. Heel Pop Walk (10m)
To perform the heel pop walk, step forward normally then lift by the heel, shifting your weight to your toes. Balance by swinging your arms at the elbow.
8. A Skips (10m)
As you take each step, raise your knee as high as it will comfortably go, at least a 90° angle from your body, then lift your supporting heel off the ground before bringing your leg back down. Once again, use your arms for balance by swinging at the elbow.
9. Open the Gate (10m)
During each step, raise your knee as before, then swing your leg outward as if it’s a gate swinging open. You may set your foot down for balance before coming back to center. Performing this exercise regularly will help increase the strength and flexibility of your hips.
10. Close the Gate (10m)
It’s time to reverse the previous exercise. This time, start each step with your hip swung outward then bring it back to center. Remember to keep your knee raised as you stretch your hips.
11. Leg Cradle (10m)
While walking, gently raise one leg by the ankle, attempting to make your leg perpendicular to your body. Take your time with this stretch, holding it in place for a moment before bringing your leg back down.
12. Quad Stretch (6 reps per leg)
With your back straight, lift one leg behind you by bending at the knee, bracing it with the hand on the same side. Then repeat with the other leg.
13. Dynamic Side Lunges (6 reps)
Legs apart, bend one knee, shifting your weight to that side with your back straight. Then trade your weight to the other side. For an even workout, rotate your starting leg between reps.
14. World’s Greatest Stretch (3 reps per leg)
Hold a lunging position low to the ground with one foot forward, one back, bracing your weight with the opposing arm. Reach your free arm below your body as far as it will comfortably go, then reach above in one slow motion.
15. High Knees (10m)
It’s time to pick up the pace! Jog across a 10-meter space, raising your knees at least 90° with each step.
16. Butt Kickers (10m)
This time, as you jog, raise your legs behind you as with the quad stretch, bending at the knee.
17. Grapevine (20m)
Walking sideways, cross one leg in front of the other to enhance your balance. Then turn around and cross the other leg in front.
18. Skip (10 Meters)
As you move quickly across the 10-meter space, raise each knee up 90° then stretch your leg out straight in front of you before setting your leg back down.
19. Side to Side Leg Swings (10 reps per leg)
Find a sturdy surface to brace against with both hands. Then swing one leg from side to side, first out then in, allowing your leg to follow its natural range of motion. Repeat as many times as is comfortable before swapping to the other leg.
20. Back and Forth Leg Swings (10 reps per leg)
Turn to one side. Bracing with one hand, swing the leg on the same side forward and then back, using the full range of motion. Once again, repeat as many times as it comfortable before rotating and swinging the other leg.
Note: Everyone starts somewhere. When trying an unfamiliar exercise, take it slowly and tune into cues from your body – and always keep the supporting knee slightly bent.
This complete stretch routine gets the blood flowing while boosting the flexibility and resilience of the muscles, guarding against cramps and enabling the full range of motion. When the countdown begins and the excitement takes everyone’s breath away, these exercises will help you feel calm, focused, and ready.
Running Recovery Tips
Proper recovery is just as important as the warm-up stretch. As a Bellingham Bay Marathon participant points out in 10 Half Marathon Tips For New Runners, the best thing you can do for yourself is to have a warm, hearty meal waiting for you. After the big celebration, however, it will most likely help in the long run to keep your body moving.
On Monday, September 30th, the day after the Bellingham Bay Marathon, Prime Sports Institute is hosting a Post-Race Recovery Run. Put your timers away, forget about your placement in the race, and just enjoy the recovery effects of a guided stretch and gentle jog. Participants will have a chance to try out different state-of-the-art massagers and recovery tools, and enjoy hearty snacks after the recovery run.