Monday, June 18, 2012

The perfect warm up

Earlier this spring myself and some of our athletes did the Haystack time trail in Boulder, CO. our warm was perfect. And it got me thinking. What is the perfect warm up?
After an early morning of helping out with the race I got in 30 minutes or so over very easy riding. At which point of began doing 1 minute and 90 seconds  int. at a building intensity up to my goal race wattage. These did not feel good.  Because I felt less than ideal I did not force the issue. I stayed calm and kept my watts low and rest time between these efforts long. About  10  minutes before my start time it was time for my body to wake up! I did my last warm up set which is 1 minute in zone 3 (tempo) 30 seconds in Z5 (vo2 watts) repeated for 5 minutes or longer.  I really like this easy over under interval as it really ramps up all the bodies’ processes without building up to much lactate.  After the first  minute or so the engines light up! I felt great, had a few minutes to relax before the start and had a great race.
So, there you have it the perfect warm up… right? WORNG!
Ever race is different. Are you warming for a 100 mile road racer or a 5 minute time trial?  A triathlon that will take 2:30? On top of this every race day will be different. Cold, hot, windy, you might wake up feeling great and ready to go right away or you might be tired and have some tight muscles.
The key to finding the best warm up is listening to your body and being aware of your environment.
This will give you the information you need to alter your warm up to best suit you and your task at hand.
    An athlete of mine was getting ready for a uphill TT one day that takes less that 20 minutes. A very violent effort! He was tired after working all night and had tight legs from spending lots of time in a car. We decided for a 90 minute warm up. VERY easy with some fluids and his favorite energy drink  45 minutes prior to the start. 15 minutes before the start he did 4-5, 1 minute efforts at his goal race wattage with the last 30 sec. of the last interval at max.
He felt great, set a PR 20 minute power output and place top 10 in the Pro 1-2 field.  I once warmed up on my trainer before a 145 mile road race. Why? It was 50 degrees, raining and the day before I had very bad, tight legs.  I simply HAD to warm up. I had a great race that day making the final selection and placing in the top 30 of a race that saw over half the 140 person field eliminated. 
   Waiting in the cold water at a triathlon start is the worst warm up one can have. I have developed a very efficient way of treading water that mimics a free style stroke (somewhat) keeps the muscles warm and readies them for a mass start swim.  
Every day will be different, every race different.  Be as aware of yourself and your environment as possible.
a few key points for warm ups:

·         Come up with a warm up out line that you can alter depending on race length, and how you feel
·         The shorter your race, the longer and more intense your warm must be.
·         Always build your effort slowly! Take your time warming up. This is hard being wound up and ready to race! Relax, control your thoughts and your body. You’ll race better under control.
·         Make a time sch. for yourself! Make sure you have plenty of time! 
·         Always build up to your race effort and pace/ watts, etc. and do a few short efforts above (harder) this pace.  When you are ready! Not before.
·         Long rests. Give yourself long rest intervals between your warm up efforts.  Remember you are just getting the muscles ready to go. You are NOT training, yet.
·         Warm up your mind. This is very different for folks. I like to be around people, talk a lot joke around. Some might want their head phones and to be alone. Whatever it is give yourself this opportunity.

 Making a time table for your race morning is probably the most important and the one that athletes are the most likely to not do.  It is very easy to get behind.  I have done this many times. Too much time leads to being lazy and things get missed.
     At the Tour of the Gila one year getting ready for the stage 3 TT I slept in and had a nice, slow breakfast.  Start time was at 2:34pm. Plenty of time.  My body was enjoying the recovery time.  The time passed and I got ready. Drove to the start area get ready to warm up. Opps for get the skin suit. Turn around killing 10 more minutes. Warmed up on the road for a bit,  ohh gotta right sign in.  Then I had to get a disc wheel to borrow, change the cassette, find a tool to borrow, back to the warm up, then to the trainer,  the next thing I knew it was time and I was in the start gate. Notice anything I forgot? TO EAT LUNCH!!!   The least busy day of the 5 day stage race and I was behind on calories. This is the day to fuel up!  Not only put in a solid TT performance but gas up for stages 4 and 5. I bonked 10’ into the TT (yes I had never heard of that either) and all hopes of retaining a top ten over all were gone.   A horrible amateur error simply because I did not plan out my morning.
Warming up has a lot more to do with how hard you go, for how long blah blah blah.  You must PLAN. Know what works for you. Some people always warm up on the trainer, some like the open road better.  Know your environment.  Where is the start?  Warming up on your bike at a big triathlon will NOT happen. it is in transition the day before and you will Not get it out so you need an alternate warm up.  will some stretching and wind mills do the trick or do you need 90 minutes of active warm up time?   You might need to warm up more for an early morning race as opposed to an afternoon start?  At the local triathlons a friend and I ride to the race venue. Yet we also meet 30 minutes prior to leaving and do  20 minutes  around the block to warm up even more.   
Know thy self, know your environment.  adapt to the situation and relax. 

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