Stoke the fire
This 10-minute cold-weather warm-up from endurance coach Tom Craggs, which can be done in your house, gets your body primed to brave the cold in comfort and injury-free ‘These five exercises are a combination of activation of key muscles used in running, and dynamic stretching,’ says Craggs. ‘ Do each exercise twice, for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds’ rest, before moving on to the next move.’
THE FINGER CRUSHER
WHY To engage your lower abs and activate your hip flexors.
HOW Lie on the floor in a sit-up position. Place your hands under the arch in your back and engage your lower abs and pelvic floor to push your spine onto your hands (to ‘crush’ your fingers. Keeping the pressure, add alternate leg lifts (a few inches off the floor).
WHY It wakes up the glutes, and develops hip and spine stability.
HOW From a sit-up position, engage your glutes and push your hips up to form a line from your shoulders through your hips and to your knees. Keep your hips high by squeezing your glutes. To add difficulty, extend one leg at a time out in a straight line, hips held high.
ANKLE/ CALF MOBILISATION
WHY Protects against Achilles, calf, shin and plantar issues.
HOW Standing in a clear hallway, lift one foot and very slowly put it back down, landing with the toe and ball of the foot first, rolling the rest of the foot down so the heel lands last. Repeat with the other foot and continue alternating, moving slowly backwards as you go.
WHY Works the key running muscles; strengthens the core.
HOW Stand in a hall. With hands on hips, step forward with one foot into a lunge, your back heel lifted, squeezing the glute of your rear leg. Now use your front leg to stand up and bring your back leg into a lunge. Keep going, toes, hips, knees and chest pointing forward.
WHY Stretches posterior chain.
HOW From standing, put one leg straight out, with just your heel on the ground. Bend your back knee slightly and push your bum out as if you’re about to sit down. Reach forward and, hands dangling, sweep your arms forward and backwards for 2-3 secs. Repeat on the other leg; alternate every few seconds.