Warm Up

The Warm Up…


An essential part of any track session is the warm up beforehand. Trying to do a workout without warming up is a sure fire way to get injured very quickly. This is especially true in masters athletes who tend to have less flexibility than seniors.

By doing a proper warm-up, you increase your breathing and circulation in preparation for the exercise ahead. You also increase the temperature of the body’s muscles so that their flexibility increases. Muscles that haven’t been warmed up properly are much more prone to tearing which could see you out of action for weeks if not months.

A warm up routine normally consists of a slow jog or run for one to two miles in length.  The preferred option is to go for at least two miles and more if you have the time. It’s important to remember the function of the warm up is to WARM UP. It’s not a training session in its own right. The pace should be very slow to start with and it shouldn’t get much faster. If you can’t talk, are panting, sweating a lot or are out of breath then you’re going  too fast. The pace should be slow and you should easily be able to hold a conversation. Before most Tuesday track sessions, you will find members meeting in the car-park at CIT for 2-3 mile warm-up runs from 6:20pm onwards.


Dynamic Warm up…
For a typical Eagle AC evening at the track, the full warm up run is followed by a short dynamic stretching session, starting at 6:50pm. This is mobility stretching which loosens connective tissues while still warming up some more muscles, especially in the upper body. The overall effect is that your body ends up being fully prepared for the demands that will be placed on it in the session ahead.

There are a multitude of dynamic warm-ups that can be done and it would be easy to spend 20 minutes just doing exercises alone.

This is a typical example of the dynamic warm up routine done at a track session which should take about 7 minutes…

1) Neck Exercises…

Gently tilt your head forwards and backwards in a nodding motion…repeat from left to light….and then twisting left and right. 5 repetitions each.

2) Shoulder Rolls…

Standing with your arms straight and close to your body, roll your shoulders forward 10 times. Then roll back 10 times.

3) Side Bends…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the knees slightly bent. Reach your right arm up and over your head to the left side, sliding your left arm down your left leg to your knee. Let your body lean into the stretch. Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Do 5 on each side.

4) Trunk Rotation…

With your arms held forward, twist your body to the left as far as it can go…hold for a few seconds…and return. Repeat on the other side. 5 repetitions each side.

5) Hip Swings…

Stand alongside the fence. With knees slightly bent and hands on the fence for support, slowly swing your outside leg forward and then back, keeping your back straight, and trying not to arch your spine. Repeat 10 times. Move to the right side and repeat 10 times with your other leg.

6) High Knee Lift…

Raise your right knee and pull it in tight to your body. Hold for a second and release. Do 5 repetitions on each side. This exercise engages the core, the glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Increase in activity and Heart rate…

As we approach the end of the dynamic stretching session, it’s time to get the heart rate elevated and the muscles warmed up even further…

7) Astride Jumps…

With the feet together, jump and land with the feet about half a metre apart. Jump again and land with the feet together. 10 repetitions.

8) Ankle Drives…

With the knees slightly bent and the arms above the head, do a slight jump into the air and then landing again with the knees slightly bent. Repeat 5 times.

Last two exercises…Start with some running on the spot.

9) High Knee Lifts…

While jogging on the spot, introduce some high knee lifts for 5 seconds and then return to a jog. Repeat cycle.

10) Heel Flick Ups or Butt kicks…

heel flick
Again, while jogging on the spot, introduce some butt kicks. Flick each leg backwards so that the heel is as close to the leg as possible. Do this for 5 seconds and return to jogging on the spot. Repeat cycle.

Finish…At this stage, everyone should be warmed up and ready to undertake the session ahead. If time allows, it can be useful to do a few strides as these get the body used to running at a fast pace before you start the interval itself.

Strides….These involve running fast over a distance of about 50-100 metres. The athlete should start at a modest pace getting gradually faster so that they complete the middle 30 metres at 80% effort before winding down again. At no stage should the athlete be sprinting flat out.


Everyone should get into the habit of doing strides on a regular basis. They mark the transition between the warmup and the session that lies ahead. They are especially useful before a race, especially the shorter ones like 5 kms to 10 kms where the pace is fast from the start.

1) Static Stretching…..The current best practice is not to do static stretching before exercise. It has been found to be of no benefit and some studies suggest it may actually do more harm than good. All static stretching should be done post exercise.

2) Pre-Race…As with an interval session at the track, it is also vital that a warm up is done before any race. Try to include some of the exercises above and certainly include some strides.

John Desmond

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