Ready for your running world to be rocked? Let me introduce you to the magic of a dynamic warm-up, like my genius physical therapist, Amy Benton, Chief Clinical Officer at Prime Performance P.T. in Portland, did for me. According to Amy, dynamic warm-ups (meaning you move rather than holding a static position) have been shown to provide numerous benefits for runners, including reducing your risk of injury, improving joint range of motion, enhancing overall running mechanics, and improving performance. 

Those are some of the proven-by-science results of dynamic drills done pre-running. Now let me lay out what these simple movements are doing for me since I started faithfully doing them before every run: They make the first mile not seem like a slog; they make my body feel more integrated and powerful as I move through each step; and they give me free speed. (As in, without intentionally pushing the pace, I run faster with the same effort.) 

Take 3-5 minutes to perform these dynamic movements before setting off on your runs—and get ready to reap the rewards!

For all these drills, move through a range of motion that feels right for you. As you can see in these photos and videos on our Instagram account, my knee doesn’t get close to the ground on the Rainbow Lunge and my leg isn’t straight in the Toy Soldier.

Knee Hug/Butt Kick

Hug your knee toward your chest, then either sweep your leg back to grab your foot and pull it toward your butt. Or separate the two moves into a series of knee hugs, followed by a series of butt kicks. Alternate legs, repeating 6-10 times per leg.

Rainbow Lunges

Holding your arms straight in front of your body, step forward with your left leg and drop your right knee toward the ground. Sweep your left arm up over your head in a rainbow motion, rotating your upper body to look behind you. Repeat on the other leg.Continue alternating for a total of 6-10 lunges/rainbows per side.

Step over/Duck under the Fence

Stand with your feet under your hips and step your right foot over an imaginary fence or low hurdle to your right, then step your left leg over it, too. Continue moving right by dropping into a semi-squat and stepping straight to the right, first with your right leg, then your left, as you maintain the semi-squat. Stand upright, then repeat stepping over another invisible hurdle to your right. Continue stepping over/ducking under 6-10 times to the right, then repeat to the left.

Toy Soldier

(This is one of my my favorites—it reminds me of a Drinking Bird toy!) Swing your right leg straight in front of you, then swing your right leg behind you as you hinge at the hips, aiming for a flat back. Return your right leg under you and jog a few, quick steps before swinging your left leg forward, then back. Continue alternating legs interspersed with a few, quick steps for a total of 6-10 reps per leg.

Add these drills to your pre-run
routine and let us know how you feel!