Heading Out The Door: How Should I Warm-up Before My Run?

Mark Kennedy
Founder of None to Run
June 21, 2023

In the last lesson I wrote, I walked you through preparing your body to start a running program.

This article will teach you what you should be doing (and not doing) before you head out the door for a run.

Let’s dive in.

Should I Stretch or Not?

I had a conversation with Dr. Greg Lehman about this.

Greg is a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Spine and Exercise Biomechanics Expert. In the clinic, Greg focuses on running injury mechanics, sports injuries, persistent pain problems and post-surgical rehabilitation.

If you want to listen to our full chat, please use the audio player below.

Here is what Dr. Greg Lehman has to say:

“Ten years ago, I was one of those guys saying stop stretching all the time, maybe 15 years ago, because I didn’t like to stretch so I went hunting for research to confirm my bias.

And there was a lot of it. We had a lot of research saying don’t bother to stretch.

We had a lot of research saying don’t bother to stretch.

So it’s nothing new to say this, it’s just popular now. But then as the research has come in, and this is what our review is just on, if you stretch for less than 45 seconds, like holding it in total for 45 seconds, you don’t really lose that much strength or power.

And you don’t even lose a lot to begin with. These are negligible amounts of loss in strength and power after stretching. We’re talking like 2-8%.  And as for stretching before you run, it’s the same thing.

The research is very mixed, so some people will lose a little bit of endurance but a lot of people don’t change anything at all. So I’m a bit more agnostic now and like live and let live.

So if you love stretching, and it’s something you’ve always liked to do before you exercise, you can probably go ahead and keep doing it and you’re not really going to lose a lot of performance.

But on the other hand if someone’s telling you, you need to stretch all the time and you’re not going to be a good runner because you don’t stretch, well you don’t need to listen to them either.

You can get away with just a good warm up.

And if you want, you could stretch after but even that you don’t need to do either, surprisingly.”

My take

I like to stretch. It makes me feel looser and more relaxed. I used to stretch before my runs, but have now switched this up to after.

If you’re like me and really like stretching, I would recommend you do it after your run as well – not before.

What Should I Be Doing to Warm-up Instead?

A proper warm-up will prepare your muscles and connective tissues for your run. But perhaps even more importantly, your warm-up will prime your nervous system so that your brain is ready to tell those muscles what to do.

My favorite warm-up was developed by running coach, Jay Johnson. It’s called the lunge matrix.

Check out the video below for a demonstration.

The lunge matrix is suitable for both beginner and experienced runners.

You will likely feel some soreness after the first few times performing it. But be patient and stick with it.

Start with even just 3 reps instead of 5 and build up.

Good luck and as always, email me with any questions.