There are three things I do before every run to optimize performance. They take fifteen minutes total. And are meant to prevent injury, improve performance, and reinforce technique. Today, I’m taking you along my pre-run routine. The proven routine that makes you faster than your brother. Let’s get into it!
I start with the most controversial of the three tasks. Foam rolling. I wrote on this topic in my post: What to Make of Foam Rollers? I concluded that the effects of foam rolling haven’t been backed up by much science. They may help with flexibility and muscle soreness, but if you’re time constrained, I’d skip this for more evidence-based activities. Today, this still rings true. Except that I’m dedicating a considerable amount of time to improving my running. And I’m willing to spend that extra time on things that may provide only incremental benefits.
So, I grab a foam roller and start rolling. I spend ~20 seconds on each muscle group. In order, I work on my calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, and feet. The goal is to loosen up the muscles and get the blood flowing for my upcoming dynamic warm-up.
Next, I get into my respiratory muscle training. Or breath work. I bought a $60 respiratory training tool off Amazon a few weeks ago. There’re various levels of resistance but it makes both inspiration and expiration more difficult. And I do two sets of ten inspiration/expiration cycles with a 30-second rest in-between. It’s like doing a couple set of bicep curls for your lungs.
The best part? It works. Multiple studies have tested the effects of respiratory training on running performance. In one study, they tested the effects of breath work on 800m runners. One group of runners were the control group without respiratory training. The other group completed two respiratory training sessions a day, five days a week. After four weeks, the control group stayed the same. But the trained group reduced their 800m time by 6 seconds! The study echoed what others have published. Respiratory training improves inspiration strength, blood flow efficiency, and race performance. 
So, for $60 and a few minutes a day, I train my lungs. Plus, I’ve read it’s good for general health too like for lowering blood pressure.
Lastly, I get into a dynamic warm-up. This is familiar to most. Except, I include running drills that help prevent injury and improve running technique. I perform each for ~15 seconds. Whether it’s a long easy run, intervals, or a race, these are the dynamic warm-up exercises I perform:
- Butt Kickers
- High Knees
- A Skips
- B Skips
- Side Shuffles
- Straight Leg Bound
- Leg Swings
- Lateral Leg Swings
- Calf Raises
- Toe Raises
After these drills are complete, I’m bouncing off the walls, ready to get into the running session.
Before every run, I foam roll, respiratory train, and perform running drills. If I’m ever short on time, I cut out the less proven activity first, like foam rolling. But more times than not, this three-step combo prepares me for 25+ miles running a week. Without injuries. And with improved performance. We’ll see if it pays off in my first race performance of the year this upcoming Saturday. Join my free weekly newsletter below where I’ll send out my race results next week.