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How to warm up like an Olympian

Warm up like an Olympian. This is what Andrea Seccafien does before she's ready to tackle her toughest workouts.

By Andrea Seccafien

There was a time in first year university when I would sleep in my running clothes and wake up fifteen minutes before having to start warm up. Those youthful days are long gone as I’ve learned it’s better practice to be awake for at least two hours before working out, fueling properly and getting your body ready to run by doing some pre-run stretching and activation.

Every elite runner has their own series of stretches and activation exercises prescribed by their coach, strength trainer or therapist, but they all have the same goal of getting your body primed to start running. It’s always tempting to just get out the door without doing these exercises, but they make all the difference in the quality of your run and injury prevention.

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When I go through this routine, I try to do it with intention to make sure I’m doing it properly, rather than letting my mind wander.


I use a foam roller, but you can effectively do self massage with a ball. Start with the major muscles, and then radiate out. If nothing is hurting, then it’s fine to do just a few passes of each muscle. If you find a sticky spot, stay there for a bit, rocking side to side to work out the kink.

My progression:

Glutes, hamstrings, calves
Shins, quads, IT bands


I spend a few minutes doing Phil Wharton’s isolated active stretching for my hamstrings and quads.

I also do any stretches that my therapist or strength coach has instructed me to do to clear up a niggle or tightness.


This is the part where you’re actually moving and getting your body ready to run. Every runner has their own set of activation exercises or dynamic stretches based on their own bodies. I have a standard routine that I do to get the blood flowing and then I move to do a couple of leg swings to make sure everything is feeling good. That’s my warm-up! Time to get to it! 

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