Managing the Meet Warm Up and Warm Down During Competitions

Posted by Tony Veney

Recently I was watching athletes warming up at a track meet where they had multiple races and rounds to run. I was surprised when I saw a kid I was recruiting running the 100m, 200m and both relays perform her full meet warm up four times with four full warm down routines.

How does this happen?

I don’t know about you, but my dynamic warm up takes 40 to 60 minutes based on the temperature and space available for the race prep, while my warm down takes about 10-20 minutes (contained by the same environment that exists for the warm up).

 warm up, warm down, Tony Veney

So imagine your sprinter, hurdler, and/or jumper spending 3-4 hours warming up and an hour warming down to run for a grand total of less than one minute and 40 seconds (if they ran 11.0-23.0-10.0 relay and 53.0 relay).

The first meet warm up is your race set up and should obviously address the demands of the events your sprinter/hurdler/jumper will compete in. This means doing drills and dynamic activities that change contact and airtimes from acceleration to the wire (since ground times are high early and small at top end while airtimes are low early and highest at top end).

Warm ups should isolate and then combine the full blown activity using a part-part-whole approach. The whole point of the warm-up is to get warm blood to the brain and rehearse a series of skilled sensations. But after a 10 to 15 minute warm down, the need for another 2-3 full warm ups is no longer necessary.

After the first race, your kid never returns to stasis, or resting heart rate again until hours after the meet is over.  With that in mind, the effort needed to return your sprinter to race preparation lessens from event to event. (The hype, and anticipation of the next event keeps their bodies at a reasonably high rate, requiring less work to return it to competition levels).

Also, if the schedule says the relay is at 2:15 and the 100 meters is at 4:15, that’s not really two hours between races. If your sprinters run the relay in heat 6, it could be 2:40 before they start their warm down. If they warm down for 15 minutes, then it’s almost 3pm and they only have 15 minutes to put their feet up if they plan on doing another full warm up.

So it’s easy to see how important it is to portion out their energy for a long day that appearsto give them plenty of rest between races when it really doesn’t.

Plan to complete a competition warm up for their first race of the day,  followed by a warm down consisting of some jogging, low skips, high skips, arm swings, combo arm swings and skips, and carioca to let the heart rate drop slowly and allow blood to move through the big muscles. The skipping produces vibrations that aid in circulation.

Hydrate after the event (water, celery, strawberries, and pineapple are good for that) and when it’s time to warm up again, select a handful of your competition drills best suited for the next event or merely cut the warm up in half for a warmer day or complete 2/3rds for a day when the temps are low.

When you’re warming down, merely skip and jog for about 10 minutes giving your body a chance to wind down gradually.

By the time you get to the 4×4, there’s very little to do but a little jogging, a handful of dynamics, some build up and they should be ready to hit it.

Obviously, weather can play a major role in how much you warm up and warm down, but the sole reason to do either is to prepare your kids to rock and rock when the gun goes off.

I also make laminated cards with the warm up and warm down on either side and they tie it to their back packs or the zipper on their warm-ups (thanks Vince Anderson). I hope this helps a little to get you ready to get them ready. Good Hunting!


Complete Track and Field Programs containing multiple warm ups and warm downs:

  1. Complete Speed Training Volume 2 with Latif Thomas
  2. Complete Program Design for the 400/600/800m Runner with Ron Grigg
  3. Complete 100m Training with Marc Mangiacotti
  4. Advanced Concepts in 400m Training with Marc Mangiacotti
  5. MultiEvent Coaching and Practice Organization with Boo Schexnayder



Free ‘Starting Blocks Set Up Cheat Sheet’ Immediately Cleans Up Your Sprinters’ Starts!

We value your privacy and would never spam you



Tony Veney - Tony Veney is entering his ninth season at the helm of the Pirates' men's and women's track and field teams, his 10th at Ventura College. He brings over 40 years of extensive track and field coaching and teaching experience from all levels of competition, and is a nationally certified instructor and lecturer. In the fall of 2017, Veney was awarded the Fred Wilt Coach/Educator of the Year Award by USA Track & Field. Coach Veney is a USATF Level I-II-III instructor with a master of coaching certificate. He is a regular speaker at national track and field clinics, and has produced and published several videos and books related to the specialized areas of sprints and hurdles. Veney is a 1976 graduate of UCLA with a degree in History. He was the former 800 meter record holder for the Bruins, and was a member of two NCAA outdoor track and field championship teams. He received his Master's Degree in physical education from Azusa Pacific University.

Related Posts

Technical Features in the Horizontal Jumps

My Favorite Sprints, Hurdles, & Jumps Programs to Steal From

Flexibility as a Primary Physical Component in Cross Country

Blizzard of 2015: Video Playlist

300 Hurdles & 400 Hurdles: Systems vs Philosophies