I was at the Reebok Grand Prix this past Saturday on both business and pleasure. It was a nice chance to enjoy the sport a bit with nice weather and be in Gotham for some good food and entertainment. The purpose of this entry is not to review the meet and performances but focus on one of my interests, how athletes warm-up for races. With so many programs and coaches it all comes down to what they do in a race and likely what they do before a race.
While a warm-up will never be a way to correct a poor program, it many times can be the aspect that prevents an injury or helps athletes get better during the competition phase. Many have read part one of my never ending (never finishing) article on warming up for speed. While it was a good article it was done without an editor and frankly didn’t cover enough! Believe it or not I would triple the length but I doubt those that read it would continue on as it would be a saga by the time it’s done. Here are two things that I feel should be added to the article:
Talent and Arousal– The size and crowd (and televised venues) make meets more important and exciting for both the spectator and athlete. Some athletes respond differently to the crowd but a high school athlete in a Division meet in a small city is not getting the same vibe from a major venue. This is why meets are great practices for those that have a hard time getting turned on for training as often they need some sort of spark. Also great talent includes great neuroendrocrine systems that seem to prime the nervous system like a hard CNS spike internally without external applications such as a lot of build ups or jump exercises. Our bodies are programed for fight or flight (sometimes freeze for athletes) and tapping in usually occurs without much work. I am not advocating not dong a warm-up up but the length and intensity seem to be based on weather, venue, time of year for competition, training program, talent, and attitude. The rules change a bit during championship meets with 4 rounds or multiple heats.
Surface and Footwear- At the Reebok Grand Prix the athletes used a grass field adjacent to the track for warm-up. Hurdles were set up for mobility and rhythm work, physiotherapists were about, agents and coaches socialized, and even some elite distance athletes were running and talking on cell phones! I saw a lot of running and drills but noticed everyone could simply run a few laps. I am not a big jogger but if an athlete breaks down running two laps they need to run more. I think too many coaches want to be innovative that they kill off the two lap warm-up and soon athletes seem to fail to keep stride in fast runs. I am not sure what the transfer is if any, but sprinters should be able to run even if they are doing a short to long program. I was impressed with some athletes who knew the event line-up and were able to do some strides between races on the track to get the finishing touches on a run. Many athletes warmed down barefoot on the grass and switched shoes constantly. Some athletes at first looked lazy but then after 45 minutes I saw the full picture. If you are coming off an injury slowly see what you can do and listen to your body.
It was a great meet and it was nice to see all the drills and ways to warm-up. I took home a few movements that were clear to be working various parts of opening up joints and will place them into my own warm-ups purposely when needed.