Warm Up

The simple act of active warm up and stride outs can make big differences in your running form and your ability to race quickly. The other major benefit of a proper warm-up is injury reduction. This workout is modelled after my favourite track and cross country running warm-ups.

Make sure you warm-up by running before you do the active warm-up exercises. These are best to do right before you start the intensity sessions. The stride-outs are great to do before and after your intensity session, or toward the end of your other runs. Really, all of these exercises could be done daily and it would only improve your running.

Video and photos coming as soon as the snow melts in Golden!


Active Warm Up Exercise 1: A’s

The focus of “A’s” or high-knees is range of motion and posture. Essentially you’re just walking and skipping, lifting your knees high to or above hip level.


  • Weight on the balls of your feet

  • Good posture (tall through the top of your head)

  • Feet remain flexed at all points (do not point your toes)

  • Arms are held at a right angle (running position).

  • When you move from walking to skipping, the drive of your knee up is what prompts the skip.

Do 2x walking at 25m, then 2 x skipping at 25m. (easy walk return).


Active Warm Up Exercise 2: B’s

The focus of “B’s” is again range of motion and also a great way to stretch your hamstrings. Please be careful doing this exercise if you have a history of hamstring injuries! The general motion is an A (above), followed by extending your leg straight and snapping it through. The fastest part of this motion, and the focus, should be on the straight-leg snap-back (like a pawing motion)… specifically NOT on “kicking” forward as the forward motion should be fairly controlled.


  • Weight on the balls of your feet, good posture, right-angle arms, and flexed feet (same as A’s)

  • Extend your leg “slowly” with the foot flexed, then have a quick snap back to the ground.

  • When your foot snaps back you should be scuffing the dirt/grass/etc.

  • The skip is driven by the high knees; for most people, skipping in this exercise is easier than walking.

Do 2x walking at 25m, then 2 x skipping at 25m. (easy walk return).


Active Warm Up Exercise 3: C’s

The butt-kicker! This exercise is designed to improve your foot recovery position and also train your body for fast turnover. In essence you’re kicking your butt as fast as you can. The focus is not on forward motion, but leg speed and form. You may not go anywhere and that’s OK!


  • Weight on the balls of your feet, good posture, right-angle arms, and flexed feet (same as A’s)

  • Keep your knees exactly beside each other as you bring your heel up to kick your butt.

Do 2x at 25m. (easy walk return).


Active Warm Up Exercise 4: Skips and Stretches

There are lots of other exercises you can add to the warm up, including a variety of skipping (like you’re 10 on the playground) and swinging your arms in circles, or front-to-back. These are all great exercises as well and a great way to kill time while keeping your heart rate high before a race. However, in real life, we often don’t have time for extended warm-ups for our work-outs so I’ll leave them out of this tutorial.



Stride-outs are best done after you do the active warm-up exercises above as you should be translating the form you just practised into running: high knees, good leg extension and powerful pull from the hamstrings, and a snappy foot recovery that brings your heels right to your bum. This is high speed running!

Stride outs are anywhere from 80 - 150 metres in length. Start out with small, driving steps that slowly extending in length. This is a great place to think about fast turnover/cadence. By the 30-40% mark of the stride-out you should be approaching top-top speed, with high turn-over maintained from your start and long strides. Hold the top-speed until the 60-75% point of your stride out and then slowly decelerate until you’ve reached a full stop. Walk back to where you started and repeat. Repeat 3-6 times.

While stride-outs are fast, they should not be hard intensity. After the initial shock of teaching your body new movement, these should give you energy, rather than drain energy.