Olympic Marathoner, Molly Seidel’s Favorite Pre-Run Exercises

As a runner, you may be guilty of thinking you’ll “just warm up during the run” or even skip a warm-up entirely.

However, having a proper pre-run routine is essential to keep your body moving right, and more importantly, preventing injury. 

Creators of innovative running recovery tools, Sidekick has now collaborated with Molly Seidel to create 5 pre-run activation routines on their running app. These routines are simple to follow, and only require 5 minutes of your time to complete before a run. 

sidekick tool in action

Who is Molly Seidel?

First off, who is Molly Seidel, and why is she qualified to teach you a pre-run routine?

Molly Seidel is an American professional long-distance runner. She began her running career in middle school, then won the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in high school. She then moved on to run for the University of Notre Dame, earning four NCAA national titles before going pro.

One of the most impressive feats of her career was coming in second place at the 2020 Olympic trials – her first marathon ever.

With her incredible athleticism and hard work, Molly won the bronze medal in the marathon at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Following her marathon debut, she also placed 6th and 4th in the 2020 London Marathon and 2021 New York City Marathon, respectively. 

Molly Seidel’s Injuries

Unfortunately, while running in the 2022 Boston marathon, Molly suffered a hip-impingement injury that led to her withdrawing mid-race.

Hip impingement occurs when the head of the femur pinches against the acetabulum, which is the socket of the ball and socket joint, causing pain and stiffness potentially leading to other injuries.

The hip pain had not fully resolved when training for the 2022 World Championships, and an MRI revealed that she also suffered a stress fracture in her sacrum.

These injuries led her to make the decision to withdraw from Team USA in July. Although injuries of this sort may not be entirely preventable, studies suggest that adding pre-run activation and dynamic warm-up routines to marathon training may play an important role in reducing the risk of injury. 

molly seidel training

What is pre-run activation? Why is it important?

Activation exercises are low-intensity exercises that are meant to bring blood flow to “wake up” your muscles before a workout.

Pre-run activation routines specifically target muscles that are used in running mechanics, to prepare them to perform during a higher-intensity workout. This helps to ensure that every muscle is firing properly so that your body can move without compensation or imbalances.

Dynamic stretches go hand-in-hand with activation exercises and should be part of your pre-run routine. Actively moving your joints through their range of motion increases the temperature of your tissues, getting them ready to tolerate load and stretch during your run.

Most importantly, dynamic stretching is a simple way to prevent injury during high-intensity activity. 

It is, however, important to consider that dynamic warm-ups and activation routines are not a cure for improper mechanics or chronic muscular imbalances. We encourage you to seek advice from a health professional to come up with a treatment plan for these issues. 

Molly’s Pre-Run Activation Routine

During her pre-run routine, Molly sticks to active dynamic movements to prepare her body for performance. To ensure that the targeted tissues are still warm, pre-run routines are most beneficial when completed within 10-15 minutes of your workout. 

Molly’s Exercise #1: – Hip 90/90 Extension 

The main goal of this exercise is to release tension and mobilize the hips. Refraining from touching the ground on the down phase will also activate your glutes. Perform this exercise for about 30 seconds on each side. 

Molly’s Exercise #2: – Hamstring Lunge

This is a hamstring mobilization exercise. The dynamic movement will warm up the muscles to reduce tension and stiffness. Perform for about 30 seconds on each leg. 

Molly’s Exercise #3: – Side Lunge

The dynamic side lunge activates your glutes, while mobilizing the adductors and hips. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds on each side. 

Want to see more of Molly’s favorite pre-run exercises? Download the Sidekick app to warm up alongside Molly Seidel in just 5 minutes over the next 5 days to prepare you for each run and prevent injury during your marathon training.

Photo of author
Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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