The Little 10k that Could: Warm-Up and First Steps

I went on and on about my training for a 10k in last week’s post. So today I thought I would outline how you can train for a race yourself. If you think a 10k is a little lofty, maybe a 5k is more your distance.


10k= 6.22 miles

5k= 3.11 miles

If you remember from last week, the bittersweet ending to my running story was that I ultimately got sick and was unable to run on race day. Which, as you can figure out, means I was sick on Thanksgiving Day. Yay. Of course this was the year my dad and I decided to split the Thanksgiving menu between the two of us. Leaving me with

seven dishes to cook myself . Luckily I am a big planner-aheader when it comes to cooking and had much of the stuff done or nearly done before the sickness really started to kick my butt. So while the Turkey Trot didn’t happen, the turkey dinner did.

If you are not a runner, hate running, would rather do anything but run, this is for you. During the 6 weeks that I ran, I didn’t lose gobs of weight (although that certainly would have been nice), I didn’t get super ripped, I didn’t even get very fast.

If I really dialed in my nutrition I would have certainly seen some weight loss, but that’s another discussion for another day.

What I did do was prove to myself that I’m capable of more than I often give myself credit. It was a reminder that self-depricating thinking is what keeps me from accomplishing things, not my lack of ability. So yes, running will get you in better shape and you might lose a little weight. But I would argue that the real transformation that will occur is in your mind. I’m sure we’ve all embarked on some sort of dietary or exercise plan with dreams of huge success, only to watch in disappointment as we slip right back into our old habits almost as quickly as we started the new plan. It’s clear that the psychological side of things plays a HUGE part in our efforts to lose weight and get healthy. So view this training as more of a mental challenge and less of a physical challenge. One that is process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented.

If you neglect the psychological side of this equation, you will continue to fail. And what’s worse, you won’t even know why.

One of the keys to success is arming yourself with a good dose of self-awareness. It’s important to harness the power of your mind to your benefit, not to your demise.

Before you start running like crazy, make sure that you are cleared by your doctor to exercise. Also,

never train in pain.

I mean it. We aren’t NFL players being paid millions to play on high ankle sprains or cut off a broken finger because we can’t be bothered with waiting for it to heal. You get one shot with the body you’re given so treat it right. If you know that you shouldn’t run, it’s ok. Don’t. There are plenty of other ways to exercise that won’t put you on the path to surgery.

If possible, it would be beneficial to see a trainer to screen your movement and analyze your gait to make sure you don’t have any problematic movement patterns that could lead to injury with a running program.

If you are cleared to exercise and don’t have any huge issues with your gait, let’s get started!

First we will start with the warm-up. It is best to do dynamic (moving) stretches before your run and static (holding) stretches at the end. Also if you have a foam roll (which I highly recommend you get one), use it to roll out some of your tight spots. This helps “free up” muscles and nerves to improve quality of movement. Here’s a basic warm-up that only takes a few minutes:

Foam Roll (60 sec per muscle group):

Quads– Get in a plank position on the floor with the foam roll on your upper thighs. Slowly walk forward on your elbows, moving the foam roll down the thighs towards the knees, making note of tender areas. Stop just before the knee caps and return to a spot that felt particularly tight and hold there for about 10 sec.

IT Band– Lie on your side with your elbow underneath you, the foam roll under your bottom leg and the foot of the top leg flat on the floor in front of the rolling leg. Roll slowly along the side of the leg, stopping just above the knee and return to a tight spot for 10 sec. Flip over and repeat on the other side.

Glutes/Piriformis– Sit on the foam roll with your hands on the floor behind you and cross  your right ankle over your left knee (both legs are bent) so you’re making a triangular window with your legs. Lean towards the right cheek, allowing the left cheek to lift off. Roll along the glute, about an 8-inch area, holding a tight spot for 10 sec. Cross other ankle and repeat on the other cheek.

Dynamic stretches (do each for about 20 repetitions total):

Be sure to start with a smaller range of motion, gradually increasing towards the end of the set as you feel your flexibility increase.

Calf Raises– Stand a couple of steps away from a wall. Place your hands on the wall and step one leg forward. The back ankle and calf should feel a slight stretch if the heel is on the ground. Perform 10 heel raises with the back leg, feeling the stretch as the heel comes towards the ground. Switch.

Walking Lunges– Take a step forward and lower down towards the ground by bending both front and back knees. Keep your front heel in contact with the ground as you bring yourself to a standing position. Alternate legs, only going as low as you can go with good form and with no pain.

Butt Kickers– This is to stretch the quadriceps. Walk and bring your heel back towards your bottom, almost as if to kick it. You are still not running at this point. Alternate legs as you go.

Toe Touches– Walk and kick your leg up in front of you, reaching towards the toe of the kicking leg with your opposite hand. Don’t kick too high. Alternate right arm to left leg, etc.

After your warm-up is done you are ready to go! If you don’t feel you can sustain a jogging pace for longer than a few minutes, the best way to start a running program is to perform intervals over a longer period of time (walk/run for 20 min vs. run for 5 min then keel over). Here are a few interval workouts to get you started:


#1- Jog Intervals:

– warm-up (foam rolling and dynamic stretches): 5-10 min

– 1:1 walk/jog intervals: 20 min

– walk briskly (keep your heart rate elevated): 5 min

– cool-down walk (slow down to recover): 2-5 min <– the harder the workout, the longer the cool-down


#2- Sprints:

– warm-up: 5-10 min

– 1:4 sprint/walk intervals: 10 sprints (time varies)

– walk briskly: 5 min

– cool-down walk: 2-5 min


#3- Hills:

– warm-up: 5-10 min

– 1:1 hill brisk walk intervals (5-10% incline on treadmill): 20 min

– cool-down walk: 2-5 min


Note: a 1:1 interval ratio is the same amount of time spent walking and jogging. If you walk for 30 sec, that will be followed by a 30 sec jog.  1:4 walk/sprint means the walk is 4x longer than the sprint. If you sprint for 30 sec, your walking recovery time is 2 min.

Don’t feel like you need to hold hard and fast to these workout parameters. Make changes where you need to in order to have the program best suit you. Start with one day of a long, brisk walk (at least 30 min) and another day of one of the interval workouts outlined above. Each week, make one or two small changes, either adding another workout day or adding time to your workouts. Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and risky so take it slow and have fun!

Here’s a sample workout calendar to get you started. It’s intended for beginners so make changes to it as needed to suit your capabilities.

This is my first attempt at making a calendar available for use and it’s definitely lacking in the fancy pants department so please be kind.

Happy running!


All information contained within this site,, is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician.  No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website.  Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.


2 responses to “The Little 10k that Could: Warm-Up and First Steps

  1. i always hated running and it wasn’t until two years ago that i started thinking i might be able to train to run. that summer i made myself do it and i was shocked at how much i accomplished.

    i never really warmed up like you demonstrated (i mean, i have to look cool, no butt kicks for me… juuuuust kidding), which is probably why my knee and foot hurt so much every time i ran that i gave it up.

    i really do want to train for a 10K, though. I could totally do that.

    • haha maybe if we do butt kicks together we’ll feel cool about it. Thanks for reading my post, friend!

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