I once had an athlete on the collegiate level ask me what the point in running fast during a warm-up was. considering THAT HE was a collegiate athlete asking this, it opened my eyes to the fact that there were athletes out there that did not understand the proper reason for warming-up. He felt that it was taking away from the workout. Well, if done correctly, it won't take away from the performance of a workout or a race. In fact, it will enhance the performance!
The point of a warm-up is to prepare the body for what it is about to go through - The physical demands of the race or workout. If the goal is to run a fast time, you have to prepare the body for it. You can't prepare the body to run fast by jogging slow. How many coaches out there ever wonder why sometimes it takes an athlete a couple of reps into a workout before they start to run the goal pace? Have you ever witnessed an athlete performing better during their second event at a track meet? There's a reason for this - they weren't properly warmed-up initially and their first race, or their first couple of reps, served as their warm-up for the remainder of the workout.
This page is dedicated to giving some ideas on how to properly warm-up for a distance event or a workout. Keep in mind that the level of fitness of the athlete, the event that they are competing in or the type of workout that they are about to do, does play a factor in which type of warm-up they should utilize.
I typically have distance runners begin their warm-ups about an hour before their race. There is nothing wrong with slow jogging for athletes that are new to the sport during the early stages of their career if they are struggling initially, however the following are various workouts that I have put my teams through (including freshmen):
1) 10-minute jog with a 1:00 surge of fast running in the middle of the 10-minutes.
2) 15-minute jog with 30-second surges at the 5-minute mark and 10-minute mark of the warm-up jog.
*the first two are basic warm-ups that i utilize with young runners. The following are given to more experienced athletes that are at higher fitness levels. I aim to have the athlete complete these warm-ups 10-30-minutes before their race, depending on the fitness level of the athlete, and spend the remaining time resting, stretching and light jogging (basically from where they are stationed to the starting line).
**Warm-up with 1-mile to up to 2-miles of easy jogging, followed by drills and stretching prior to running these**
3) 2 x 200-meters (jogging 200-meters for recovery after each) then 1 x 400-meters at goal race pace.
4) 4 x 200-meters (jogging 200-meters for recovery after each)
5) 2 x 400-meters (jogging 200-meters for recovery after each)
6) 2-3 sets of 3-4-minutes at goal race pace (jog the amount of time ran during the interval as recovery after each) - i reserve This warm-up for athletes that are racing 2-miles or longer.
These are just the warm-ups that I personally use for my athletes. These can certainly be adjusted for the needs of the athlete. The key though is to have the athlete raise their heart rate and break a sweat during their warm-up so that they are ready to compete when the gun goes off. Getting the body acclimated to the opening pace of a race, will also benefit the athlete by preventing stress and shock to the body during a fast opening pace. I have found much success in having my athletes do a warm-up listed above as opposed to having them jog slow for 1-2 miles. As a student-athlete myself, I did not feel ready to compete unless I had some fast running prior to the race. Thank you Tom Cuffe for introducing me to that concept, it was he that I learned the first work-out on the list from. He would have us do that before any race that we ran and it worked.