Seven 5 Minute Workouts to Add After Your Runs

5 Minute Workouts to Add After Your Run

As someone who enjoys giving advice on running, I have to admit that advice from various running blogs, training books, scientific studies, and coaches can become overwhelming at times. Include speed work, work on your cadence and turnover, improve your form, strength train, and focus on mobility and flexibility are all sound methods for improving your running, but can also leave you wondering how do I fit this all in?

After all, only an incredibly small percentage of runners are elite runners who can spend their entire day dedicated to training. A significant majority of us balance running with other commitments, including family, career, volunteer work, and leisure time (because it’s not healthy to be go, go, go all the time). We can give 1-2 hours most days for running, cross-training, and supplemental workouts, maybe more on the weekends for our long runs.

However, you don’t need to dedicate extra hours per day to improve your running form, strength training, or develop your speed. In fact, a few short, efficient, and effective workouts tacked on after your runs will yield noticeable gains without chipping into your already busy schedule.

In fact, you can become a stronger, faster, more economical runner with these six 5 minute workouts to add after your runs.

5 Minute Workouts to Add After Your Run

Seven 5 Minute Workouts to Add After Your Runs

1. Drills and Strides

What they do:
Drills and strides create the neuromuscular connections necessary for efficient running and improved form. Good running form includes a quick cadence, forward arm swing, and upright posture. Drills instill this by teaching your legs to turn over quickly while properly extending your hamstrings and your arms to swing rhythmically while keeping your elbows in (no chicken wings!).

Strides also improve turnover and form. Strides are short bursts at a fast but not all-out sprint with a focus on proper running form. Strides last about 20-30 seconds; you accelerate for the first 5-10 seconds, hold your pace for 10-15 seconds, and gently decelerate over the last 5-10 seconds.

How to do them:
Perform strides on a flat and even surface (no slanted roads or hills). Begin with 4 sets of 20 second strides with walking in between, and build up to 8-10 strides. Focus on a quick turnover and strong arm swing, and avoid any slouching or overstriding.

For drills, pick a few simple drills and perform 2-3 sets of 15-25 repetitions. The most effective drills are high knees, butt kicks, skips, and grapevines (carioca), which you can see visuals of in this video demonstration.

When to add:
After an easy run or following your warm up before a hard speed workout at 5K pace or faster, once or twice per week. 

2. Hill Sprints

What they do:
Hill sprints combine drills and strides into one fun and effective workout. I love them for marathon or half marathon training, because how often do you actually get to run at top-end speed when focusing on longer distances?

How to do them:
Find a fairly steep hill (5-10% incline, depending on your area and level of experience). Run as hard as you possibly can while maintaining upright posture, quick turnover, and forward/back arm swing for 8-10 seconds. Walk downhill or on flat ground for 1-2 minutes to recover. Begin with 1-2 repetitions and progress over the course of several weeks to 8-10 hill sprints.

When to add:
After an easy run once per week. 

3. Planks, Pushups, and Bridges

What they do:
Core, glutes, back, and arms: these three bodyweight strength movements strengthen all of your major muscle groups. If you don’t do any other strength training as a runner, you should do at least these. These three moves will strengthen your core, decrease your risk of injury, and train your glutes to activate and fire on your runs – no equipment needed!

How to do them:
Plank: Get into a raised push up position and then lower down onto your forearms, with your elbows bent and resting on the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your toes. Engage your abs (as if you were bracing them) and keep your back, hips, and butt all level. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Begin in a raised push up position with your arms straight and hands directly beneath your shoulders and your legs straight out behind you. You can rest your knees on the floor if needed, but really try to do full body push ups as they are more effective.  Keep your back flat and core engaged and bend your elbows to lower your body down, and then slowly push back up to start. That’s one repetition; do 10-20 reps, depending on your ability.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground near your butt, knees bent, and arms by your side. Raise your hips up so your body forms a straight diagonal line from your knees to your shoulders. Keep your hips level and squeeze your glutes.Pause, and lower down to complete one rep; do 15-20 reps. To make them more challenging, extend one leg up in the air, do 10-15 reps, and then switch legs.

When to add:
After any type of running workout for a bit of extra strengthening, ideally 2-3 times per week if not doing regular strength training or 1-2 times per week if you are including a specific strength training workout. After a long run may not be the ideal time, due to muscle fatigue.

4. Pilates or Yoga

What they do:
Whether you prefer Pilates or yoga, these mobility-focused workouts will help you stretch, strengthen your core and hips, and improve the mobility of your joints and flexibility of your muscles. 

How to do them:
Roll out your mat and follow a quick video or workout online. Proper form is essential for a safe and effective yoga or Pilates workout, so you want the cues from a (virtual) instructor.

Try one of these 5-minute workouts:
Five Minute Yoga Sequence from PopSugar
4 Minute Pilates Core Workout from Pilatesology
Quick Yoga Sequence for Runners from Sublimely Fit
Pilates Core Workout
10 Minute Core Blasting Pilates Workout from Greatist (if you have a bit of extra time)

When to add:
As with a quick strength work, you can add these after any run, being mindful that your muscles may be very fatigued and weaker after a long run or very hard speed workout. Aim for 1-3 days per week, depending on how often you strength train or include longer Pilates or yoga workouts. 

5. Foam roll

What it does: Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which means you are using pressure to release adhesions (knots) from the fascia of your muscles. Foam rolling alleviates soreness and stiffness after a hard run or when you’re logging lots of miles.  

How to do it:
Grab a foam roller and use your bodyweight to apply pressure down onto the roller as you roll back and forth along your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Try not to cry. Follow
these tips from Runner’s Connect to avoid aggravating any injury and ensure you are foam rolling correctly.

When to add:
Any day you feel tight or stiff, but especially after a long run or hard workout. 5-10 minutes of concentrated foam roll is all you need (and all you should do, there is such thing as too much of a good thing). 

6. Walk

What it does:
Walking adds in extra steps without extra stress to your day and helps your body cool down after a run.

How to do it:
Simple: walk at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes at an easy pace after your run.

When to add:
After any run, but it’s extra beneficial after a hard speed/tempo run or a long run. Walking will gradually return your body to homeostasis, start the recovery process by lowering your cortisol and adrenaline levels, and flush metabolic waste out of your muscles. Plus, walking is relaxing, so you also enjoy time to mentally unwind between a hard workout and whatever your day holds next.

7. Injury Prevention Exercises

What they do:
A few minutes of hip stability, ankle strengthening, or exercises that target your weak areas will save you weeks of missed training. 

How to do them:
Depending on your problem areas, pick a few exercises that will strengthen those muscles and prevent imbalances. Calf raises, specific footwork, clamshells, single leg squats, and bridges are a few examples of effective injury prevention exercises. You can also one of these 6 injury prevention routines or follow anything specifically outlined for you by a PT. 

[Tweet “Have a few extra minutes after your run? Add on one of these 5 minute post run workouts #runchat #coachescorner via @thisrunrecipes”]

Of course, if you are working with a certified running coach, he/she will likely add some variation of these into your routine. Always talk to your coach before adding in new workouts, and remember that while I am a certified running coach, I may not be your certified running coach, so always listen to your body when adding in any new workouts to your training.

If you want to work with a coach, learn about my coaching services here and set up your free consultation today!

Linking up with Coaches’ Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday

How do you add extra exercises in after you runs?
What’s your workout today?



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38 Responses

  1. Ah, someday when I don’t have a swim or a bike to “add” to my runs, I will gladly input these! I actually do a lot of strides, hill sprints, walking (for cool downs which I love!) but have stopped foam rolling as much as I used to. These are fantastic additions to any run though!! As always, great stuff here Laura 🙂

  2. I’m a big fan of doing my clams and pt right after. Or a bit of yoga to get everything really stretched out and ready for the rest of the day! Love all of these ideas, and thank you for linking up!

  3. This is so helpful! I always try to do something after my runs, whether it be a quick strength training routine or stretching because anything is better than nothing. Today’s workout was 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by upper body strength training!

  4. Great post! I love doing yoga poses after running to keep from tightening up. I use the Gaiam “Yoga Studio” app; it’s the best $5 I’ve ever spent! I would definitely recommend checking it out if you haven’t already!

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I like Gaiam’s Pilates videos so I should look into that app – thanks for the recommendation! I hope you’re doing well! 🙂

  5. You’ve made all of these things seem so manageable! I love that you can pick one, three, or all of them depending on your time factor. Great idea! Thanks for linking up.

  6. I always try to get myself to do some extra after my run but it often doesn’t happen. Foam rolling and stretching yes. But I did do some sprints at the end of my run yesterday and felt pretty bad a**.

  7. These are great things to add on after a run! I’ve been avoiding hill workouts forever but doing just a few of them after a run sounds much better to me than an entire workout dedicated to them haha. These are awesome reminders for me:)

    1. Hill sprints are a great introduction to hill work – they definitely take the intimidation out of hill running and build the power to run them for workouts or longer runs. You should try them! 🙂

  8. I go to group personal training 4 times per week in addition to running 3-4 times per week. It is busy to say the least but I go to class at 6 am so that certainly helps get it out of the way! It also has had huge benefits for my running – from getting to stronger to staying injury free – so it’s good motivation to keep going and forces me to do core and strength work.

    I’ll often add strides into the end of a run!

    1. That is a busy schedule – good for you because that commitment to fitness is awesome! Strides at the end of the run are so effective for such a little bit of work – and fun!

    1. There are definitely runs where just showering and eating is all that sounds good – especially very long runs! Foam rolling before a run is good also – keeps everything nice and loose for the workout 🙂

  9. Great tips, Laura! It’s true- many times I think we feel like we need a whole hour to do a Pilates or yoga class, or that we don’t have time to cool down properly or roll, when in reality, we benefit even if we’re doing these things for just 5 minutes, as you said!

    1. Thank you, Laura! There’s something to be said about an hour long class, but when life is busy or we’re training for a race, 5 minutes can accomplish a lot!

  10. Wow, you’ve really covered everything! I am trying to build up my injury prevention exercises but still need to be more consistent. I like getting them done after a run since I’m more likely to take the time to do them!

    1. Thank you Janelle! A little bit can go a long way in covering all the bases of form, speed, strength, and injury prevention. After a run is a great time for injury prevention because then the exercises are done – no need to worry about them later! 🙂

  11. I do all of these, but I’m not very good about actually doing them regularly. I know I feel a huge difference in how sore I am afterwards if I walk for a few minutes after a hard or long run, so I should start making it part of the plan!

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