Amanda Wass, yoga instructor

Pre run yoga: a quick routine to improve running performance

The secret to a successful training plan is consistency, but also having the ability to sustain a healthy body.  To help you smash those goals and train more efficiently, it’s a good idea to mix some pre run yoga into your training routine.

Pre run yoga will not only help to prevent injury, but also improve your body awareness, warm-up your muscles and put you in a good headspace. Personally, I like to compare it to preparing a meal: you’ve got to season & prep to get everything ready for a great meal – it’s the same with a run, you need to prepare to get the most out of it.

For our pre run yoga, I’ve put together a dynamic sequence, and broken down each stretch individually. Feel free to take individual stretches that work for you, or bind them together into a flow (I’ve included a brief video to show the flow at the end). Hold each pose for 5 breaths or use sun salutations & chaturanga between each pose to build up heat and energise the body.

Pre run yoga: Knees to chest

Woman demonstrating knees to chest
Knees to chest

Target Areas: Hips, glutes & lower back (lumbar spine

  1. Start on your back, bring knees to chest and use your hands to hold knees in
  2. Lengthen through the spine
  3. Exhale, engage core, role the head & shoulders up bringing nose toward knees
Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, one knee to chest

Target areas: hips, glutes, hamstrings

  1. Interlock fingers around knee and extend opposite leg away from the body, flexing through your heels
  2. Hold for 3 breaths, release and repeat on the other side

Fun fact: this stretch also massages organs to help relieve gas and reduce bloating – great for pre run!

Pre run yoga: Child’s pose

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, childs pose
Child’s pose

Target areas: hips, lumbar spine, quads, ankles

  1. Come to a kneeling position with big toes together, spread knees as wide as the mat
  2. Walk hands away from the body, torso comes to rest on thighs
  3. Sits reach towards heels, forehead rests on the floor
  4. Sigh through the mouth for extra feel good vibes

Pre run yoga: Downward facing dog

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, downward dog
Downward facing dog

Target Areas: whole body strength & stretch

  1. Come onto all 4’s, knees stacked under hips & hands underneath shoulders, fingers spread wide.
  2. Curl toes under, lift hips to the back of the mat as you push hands into the matt
  3. Keep a straight spine so look towards the navel or through thighs
  4. Be curious – play with pedalling through feet, stepping feet further apart or closer together

Top tip: internally rotate inner thighs to the sky and push the mat away from you

Pre run yoga: Forward fold

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, forward fold
Forward fold

Target Areas: hamstrings, decompresses spine

  1. Come to standing with feet hip wide, inhale, crown of head lifts towards sky
  2. Exhale, hinge from hips, arm’s reach out to the sides of the body (like wings) coming into a forward fold
  3. Micro bend the knees and allow arms, shoulders and head to hang, head is heavy so release tension in the neck

Top tip: focus on length rather than trying to fold into a pretzel! It doesn’t matter if you touch your toes or not

Pre Run Yoga: Pyramid pose

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, the pyramid pose
pyramid pose

Target Areas: Hamstrings, feet

  1. Begin standing at top of your mat, feet hip width, hands on hips
  2. Step left foot back, approx 3 feet, in line with the front foot and bring to 45 degree angle
  3. Press both big toes into the mat, engage core and fold forward over front leg
  4. Use hands for support on thigh if hams are tight, or frame front foot with fingers tips on the ground and hold
  5. Hold here and breath

Top tip: Find length along spine, only folding down as much as a straight spine will allow for & keep crown of the head reaching forward to encourage length

Pre run yoga: Low lunge with side bend

Woman demonstrating low lunge with side bend
Low lunge with side bend

Target Areas: Quads, glutes, IT band,

  1. Come into a low lunge, right foot forward in line with right hip
  2. Left knee drops to the mat, gently pressing top of the back foot into mat
  3. Tuck tailbone under to encourage hips to sink, breathe into areas of tension
  4. Sweep hands over head, lengthening fingers up to sky
  5. Reach right hand around left wrist, gently finding a side bend and taking the left hand over to the right

Top tip: keep reaching through your fingers to find lift & length

Pre Run Yoga: Plank

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, the plank
Plank pose

Target Areas: whole body

  1. From all fours, push floor away through hands, weight distributed evenly through fingers & wrists
  2. Step the feet back in line with hips, press heels to back of room
  3. Look at space between the hands, lift out of shoulders and shine crown of head towards top of the mat

Top tip: don’t forget to breath!

Pre run yoga: Warrior III

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, warrior III
Warrior III

Target Areas: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, core & arms

  1. Come to standing, feet parallel, lengthen through crown of head
  2. Hands on hips, engage core, shift weight onto right leg
  3. Lift left knee into chest, flexing through foot
  4. Hinging at the hips, extend the left foot to the back of mat as you tip to upper body forward
  5. Keep pressing through back heel as you come into a ‘T’ shape with body with crown of head reaching forwards and heel reaching back
  6. Reach hands in front to come into prayer. Reach prayer forwards and in line with body

Top tip: This one’s tricky – so if you can’t get it first time don’t worry and remember to listen to your body

Pre run yoga: Warrior II

Woman demonstrating pre run yoga stretch, warrior II
Warrior II

Target Areas: Hip, hamstrings, quads, shoulders & core

  1. Standing at top of mat with hands on hips
  2. Take a big step back with the left leg to the back of the mat, heel finds floor, opening to the side of the mat
  3. Front leg is bent with knee over ankle, back leg is straight
  4. Press down through the front heel & toe pads and blade edge of back foot and big toe
  5. Engage core, tuck pelvis under to avoid anterior pelvic tilt
  6. Stretch arms out to sides of the body, in line with shoulders
  7. Both hands reach to opposing ends of the mat, shoulders away from ears and shoulders stacked over the pelvis

Top tip: This is a hip opener so keep your front knee over the ankle to avoid internal rotation

Pre Run Yoga: Extended side angle

Woman demonstrating the reverse warrior
Extended side angle pose

Target Areas: hip, inner thighs, quads, shoulders & core/obliques

  1. Flip front palm to face ceiling
  2. Reach forwards raising right arm to the sky, lifting your heart to the sky and reaching through fingertips
  3. Focus on lengthening through sides of body, as top arm reaches up to the sky – inline with shoulder
  4. Breathe here then return to warrior II before switching slides

Top tip: Focus on lifting and finding length instead of bending back and dumping weight into lower back

Pre run yoga: Yogi Squat

Woman demonstrating the yogi squat
Yogi squat

Target areas: glutes, quads, calves, groin, hamstrings, lower back, pelvis, hips (yep – it’s a good one!)

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width, turn feet out slightly
  2. Bring hands into prayer position applying gentle pressure against hands, shoulders away from ears maintain length through spine with open chest
  3. Lower your hips down towards heels, bending the knees and keeping them tracking the same direction as toes
  4. Allow heels the lift if unable to maintain connection with floor
  5. External rotation of hips here so keep knees turned out to the side
  6. Keeping shoulders lengthening down the shoulders, apply gentle pressure between prayer with elbows pressing against the inside of the thighs – encouraging them to turn out
  7. Lengthen through the spine, keep the chest lifted and breathe

Top tip: Keep arches of the feet lifted and enjoy the pose!

Video: Dynamic Sequence

I hope you enjoy it, and it’s definitely a worthwhile routine to add into your pre run movement, whether that’s the entire dynamic sequence or just taking specific stretches that work for you. If you’re new to yoga just remember to “breathe, move, & be happy” – sometimes it really is that simple.

Share the excitement!

Teaching yoga is my calling but it goes further than that. For me, it's about inviting others to find that connection with themselves, to achieve those physical goals as well as getting those endorphins flowing within; to find that happiness and pleasure in moving - not focusing on what you look like but tuning into how you feel, to "breathe, move & be happy." Or, at least have fun trying!

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Thankyou, love the breakdown of each pose. Very helpful.

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