Indoor Warmups for Outdoor Runs
Reebok Boston Track Club athletes break down their stretch routine and Ben Flanagan gives tips on how to stay motivated during winter.
There is ice on the sidewalks, the wind is whipping, and the temperature is at an all-time low: Winter weather doesn’t always yield motivation to go for a run. But you shouldn’t let the cold air stop you from logging those miles. Before you give the treadmill a break to brave the elements, get in a quick warmup (pun intended) indoors to prep your body for what’s coming next.
As a professional runner for the Reebok Boston Track Club, Ben Flanagan knows what it takes to prep for a race. He appreciates that sometimes warming up isn’t at the top of the list before a grueling run. “Sometimes I feel like the last thing I want to do before going for a tough run is get my stretches in.” Athletes – they’re just like us. “But having an indoor dynamic pre-run stretch routine not only warms up my muscles before really working them, but also holds me accountable to make sure I'm getting my stretches in on a consistent basis.”
Some research debates whether stretching before a run can actually improve your runs. The consensus is that you just have to do the right stretches. Your goal with a pre-run warmup shouldn’t be for injury prevention or to delay soreness, it’s really to help increase your range of motion over anything else. If you’re an early riser, then stretches will wake you up. If you’re running at the end of your workday, a warmup will stretch you out after sitting in a chair for most of the day.
To show you what we’re talking about, Flanagan and a few members of the Reebok Boston Track Club put together some specific moves just for you. These stretches will allow you to get the most out of your indoor warmup before you hit the pavement or the track. From single-leg hinges for your glutes to dead bugs to activate your core, check out the video below for the full breakdown.
While Flanagan demonstrated eccentric calf lowers in the video, he says another one of his favorites indoor stretches is a deep lunge. “After warming up with some more dynamic movements, this stretch helps me open up my hips to make for a smoother turnover/stride during my run.” Beyond stretches, he says you can’t forget about how you’re fueling your body to take on the run. “No matter how early it is, I like to get in a light snack, some water and coffee close to an hour before every run to make sure my body has the energy it needs for a quality effort.” He also says not to forget about the jams and a good REM cycle. “If I really want to boost my mood, I'll listen to some favorite pump-up tunes to get me more excited as well. Lastly, I feel best on my runs when fully recovered, which is why I make sure to get quality sleep every night (for me that's 8-9 hours).”
All of the prep in the world can’t really prepare you for that first burst of cold air that hits you when you open the door. That’s why you need to bundle up with the right gear and have the proper kicks like Reebok’s Floatride Energy 3 to keep you going. “The most important thing is just getting out the door,” says Flanagan. “Whether it's putting on an extra layer of clothing, telling myself I'll start off slow or even setting a more modest goal (like a shorter duration run than usual). I'll do whatever I can to just get out the door and get started.” Maybe even a post-snack reward is all the motivation you need that day to get it done.
Flanagan says once he’s done the work to get himself out on the track or trail, he remembers why it was all worth it. “When it's cold outside, it can certainly feel more challenging to get motivated for outdoor runs. Oftentimes, once I'm out there I'm so happy about it that I end up going even longer than I initially planned. It's all about just getting started.” While the cold weather can seem like the enemy at times, it can also be invigorating. So, get started by upping your indoor warmup game and say yes to outdoor runs during these months. The cold won’t be here forever, and you’ll be happy you kept up the effort.