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New Twists this Summer to TNT

By: Dorcas DenHartog

Most of us come to Tuesday Night Track after a day at a desk, walking hallways, and in the car. I know when I step out onto the track after a day in the classroom, my first steps are a hobble, then a jog, then maybe I am warmed up enough to feel like I can stride. Physically, I am a skeleton still tied up in knots of muscle. Mentally, too, my brain is knotted up with thoughts of, “I only have this x number of minutes for me, between work and home and family responsibilities. I have to get in as much running mileage as possible. I have to start running immediately to make the most of my precious workout time.” And doggedly I hit Start and go.

But I shouldn’t start running as soon as I hit the track. There is a more efficient way to warmup, that also improves running form and prevents injuries. That is why we have added in dynamic warmup exercises to the Tuesday Night Track workouts.

The dynamic warmup progression Tim and I have been introducing is a sequence of exercises that move from slow and simple, forward and backward motions focusing on the hip/leg connection and simple balance, to more complex, multi-limb, side-to-side, dynamic, quick movements. Just like a jogging warmup, your heart rate increases, your soft tissue temperature rises. But unlike jogging, the ancillary soft tissues are stretched, prepared, strengthened, and reminded how to run well. As Jason Fitzgerald of Strength notes, a dynamic warmup “actually warms you up! It elevates your heart rate, respiration, perspiration, opens capillary beds, lubricates joints, and metabolically primes the body for running.” And, unlike jogging, you are thoroughly warmed up, yet have taken fewer foot strikes. It’s easier on your joints!

Not only that, studies that compare aerobic work, static stretching, and dynamic stretching, show that dynamic stretching improves your jump height, and it improves your ability to reach peak force in your running kick, better than jogging (aerobic) or static stretching. So, jogging for a warmup is akin to sitting too long in the hot tub. Convinced?

Granted it is important to catch up with friends during our warmups, before we are panting too hard to carry on a conversation. But in doing so we aren’t paying attention to what our body is doing, just minutes before we ask it to run hard, quickly, fast. Dynamic warmup exercises give every body part that you will be asking to participate in this interval session a chance to prepare for something more demanding than getting out of the chair and up from your desk.

As you do each exercise, focus on the precision, range, and synchronization of each motion.  Within the exercises are cues that improve your balance, strength, and mobility, as well as give an opportunity for you to notice and correct imbalances. Can you balance on one leg better than the other? Why? Is that or will it cause a problem? 

Not able to run? The dynamic warmup can also be used as a workout in and of itself. If you are coming back from injury or getting back into running, this routine gently guides your body through a progression of movements that you can pause at any time. Do those that serve you; put aside those that don’t. 

Below is the general routine we have been following. If you have questions about how to perform one, most can be found on Youtube. Here is a simple one that I like because it includes glute activation with a band.  

Tim and I appreciate how TNT runners have taken up this new way of warming up. And we hope you feel, as a Next Gen runner said to me, “I’ve been doing this warmup before my runs, and I think it’s helping me run better!”

UVRC: Dynamic Warmup Progression 

  • Use before all runs or as an off-day stretch routine.
  • Quality before speed:  runner’s head up, vertical* upper body, 90deg arm swing, and BALANCE. 

Perform the stretch/drill for 25-30meters, then jog back to start the next one. 

  • scoops (aka: shoo the chickens). leg straight out, front heel down/toe up, torso stright as you scoop open hands down and forward and lift up
  • Georgias/knee squeeze - squeeze knee to chest and rise up on standing toe
  • walking quad stretch - pull one heel to butt, reach up with opposite hand
  • figure-4 glute stretch/standing pigeon
  • forward lunge and twist at the waist
  • side lunge, back and forth, step, turn, alternating foot that is leading the  lunge
  • swing leg up and touch foot with opposite hand
  • knee up then swing leg back to RDL, reach both hands towards ground
  • A-step, 90deg arm swing
  • A-step with paw down - knee to horizontal, then snap lower leg to horizontal,  then paw/scrape foot beneath you; 90deg arms 
  • A-SKIP, arm swing 90deg.
  • B-SKIP, arms swing 90deg
  • La’s (beautifuls) - sideways with arm swings up and over head, down and in front of waist
  • carioca with high knee cross over, arm swing 90deg
  • high knee run, arm swing 90deg
  • butt kick run, arm swing 90deg
  • high and hang A-SKIPS, use your arms!
  • heel walk / toe walk
  • 50% effort accelerations, like a sprinter start low then rise to vertical stance in 10meters, hold for ten strides, then decelerate
  • 70% “ “ 
  • 90% “ “ 

Now you’re REALLY warmed up!

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