How should I warm up for a run?

The essential run warm-up routine from the multiple ITU world champ Spencer Smith

Make sure you warm up for your run properly if you want to get maximum benefit, says Spencer Smith  Image credit: Remy Whiting

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a weekend warrior or a pro, the need to become as efficient as possible at running is paramount. A good warm up with key form building pre-run drills can make all the difference.


Here are my essential form-building pre-run drills and stretches…

• Walking quad stretch 

– Pull your leg straight back (towards your butt) with your knee facing the ground, hold ankle with hand briefly, then release. Go 10m alternating legs, then return.

• Walking deep lunge stretch into a hamstring stretch

Take a big step. Reach to the inside of your ankle. Come up slowly into and extend into hamstring stretch. Repeat with the other leg. Go 10m and return.

• Walking lunge twist 

Take a big step and rotate over the bent knee. Engage core muscles and hip flexors. Repeat every step alternating legs. Go 10m rotating legs then return.

• Lateral side lunge 

Stretches the groin and abductor muscle. Take a big lateral step. Lean over bent leg keeping the back leg straight. Alternate to stretch both sides. Go 10m and return.

• Walking Frankenstein 

Stretches your hamstring muscles by kicking up to the centre of the body. Use your alternate hand stretched out in front as a target guide. Alternate each step. Go 10m and return.

• Walking windmill stretch 

This provides a deep stretch of hamstring into the glutes. Take a step and touch the ground in the centre of your foot while swinging the back leg behind you. Keep your body balanced by staying over that ground foot. Go 10m and return.

• Butt kicks drill

Fast moving drill for feet. Keep weight slightly over toes, having arms pumping at 90-degree angle. Get as many steps as you can in 10m and then return.

• High knee drill  

Keep weight slightly over toes whilst bringing heel up and under the body which will bring your knee up to the correct position. Go 10m and then return.


• Hip circles drill 

Simply bring your knee up towards your body and rotate it in a circular motion. Go 10 times one way, then 10 times the other. Repeat on both legs.

Muscle activation exercises: how they work and why they are important

What muscles do you use when running?

6 run drills that increase power