The warm up routine you do will depend on a number of factors including:
Is it a race day?
On a race day you want your warm up to be as efficient as possible, meaning you want to get warm and ready to race but at the same time, do not want to tire yourself out.
Are you indoors or outdoors?
If you are indoor, your warm up most likely won’t take as long as it is warmer inside! Similarly, it might take you a bit longer to get warm outside so you might need to extend your warm up routine with a few more exercises/drills/a longer jog.
Did you recently have an injury or are you currently injured?
If you have recently been injured or are carrying a small injury, your warm up should include any exercises that have been advised by your coach and/or physio. Your warm up should serve as an indicator before attempting starting your session – i.e if you start to feel discomfort in your injury in the warm up – do not attempt the session.
What is the weather like?
If it is raining, you might want to do a quick & fast warm up in order to ‘get going’ sooner to get out of the rain, this is ok for long distance runners, but for sprinters in-particular, it is important not to attempt a session unless you are confident your muscles are ready to run.
Where are you?
The park, the track, the hall…depending where you are there are different warm up exercises you can and can’t do. For example, if you are at the park and the ground is mucky and wet, it would not be advised to do your ‘on the ground’ stretching routine and to instead select a similar warm up exercise that can be done standing instead.
What event you do/what level you are at/what age you are
As you progress you may decide to specialise in a particular event (sprints, high jump, hurdles) and as you get older you might find it is harder to get warmer because of stiffness from previous sessions, or tiredness from your day to day life. It is important to tailor your warm up routine to these factors by adding in any particular exercises that are relevant to you and your event/level.
A Basic Warm Up
A good warm up should leave you feeling warm, loose and ready to begin the session. A bad warm up could leave you still cold, not ready to run, open to injury, stiff or on the other hand if over-done, could leave you worn out, sore and too tired to even run!
This warm up routine is basic, but should be considered as the bare minimum for all athletes warming up for any session.
- Minimum 5minutes (Potentially longer for long distance athletes)
Starting from the head, working down to the feet:
- Neck rotations – side to side x 10
- Arm swings x 10 each direction
- Bend to the side & hold for 5 seconds x 3 each side
- Hip rotations x 10 each direction
- Side lunge & hold for 10 seconds x 3 each side
- Front lunge & hold for 10 seconds x 3 each side
- Leg swings side to side against wall/fence x 10 each leg
- Leg swings front to back beside wall/fence x 10 each leg
- Calf stretch touching toe & hold for 10 seconds x 3 each side
- Calf stretch against wall & hold for 10 seconds x 3 each side
- Calf raisers x 10 each leg
- Ankle rotations x 10 Right foot, x 10 Left foot
- A Skip for 30m x 3
- B Skip for 30m x 3
- High Knees for 30m x 3
- 3 x 40m-50m strides in your runners
- Followed by 3 x 40m-50m strides in your spikes
As previously mentioned, this is a warm up routine at its most basic level, therefore for some groups like sprinters, they may add in some more specific stretching and perhaps a number of different speed drills, followed by some hurdles mobility or running over some wickets.
A warm up routine should be memorised by all athletes. Each person’s own personal warm up routine usually will just become instinct over the course of time, however in some instances (such as before a race when someone is nervous) it can be easy to ‘blank’ or get distracted and forget all warm up exercises completely! This is a time when the athlete should just revert back to a warm up in its most simplest form i.e – ‘Work from the head to the feet’ as a very basic warm up is 100 times better than no warm up at all!