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Race morning warm-up.

by K.N.*

We have all faced this at one point in our life, the race morning jitters. Getting up and engaging in our own personal ritual with a diligent manner. Breakfast, gear ready, getting to the venue with enough time to accommodate your needs and getting into the athletic environment. However a big question needs to be answered, what will my warm-up routine (WUR) be to ensure I am ready to “fire on all cylinders” at the start?

Well the answer is clear. For each one of you out there, a general and a specific routine to follow exists. The distance plays a huge role on the duration and intensity of your WUR. Short races require much more warm-up time, higher intensities for a short burst, and longer races require a lot less warm-up time.  The current fitness status you are in, plays a big role and the environmental conditions of the race morning. The hotter it is the less warm-up time is needed to avoid overheating before the gun goes off. If you have spend enough time training, then you can assume you are fit enough, and a thorough WUR will not wipe you out! Also if that race morning foresees the race of your life (for some athlete’s the A race of the year) the WUR is totally different if you are ready to start a low priority test event. Getting warm and loose for a big race is much more of a priority to guarantee a ready engine, Vs a light jog and a few rotations for the low priority event.

Looking deeper into what should the WUR consist, there are of course the mechanical aspects of getting muscles moving, from a light range of motion, to a fast and if personal characteristics allow, a greater range of motion. Mobility moves (see mobility for everyone)as shown by trainers in various angles and positions with a dynamic character, are great to give you that assurance. Getting the heart and respiration more active, into a more vivid state is a must to elevate heart rate and get blood pumping faster to muscles. Heat production deep in the muscles and core temp elevation, is a clear indication of readiness. Logistics and mode of sport, ( swimming warm-up is different from cycling warm up, and also different for road running races, therefore ensuring that all logistical homework was done and no surprises will occur, is a successful practice. Sometimes not having enough grounds to get those pedals spinning requires the use of turbo trainer employed at variable speeds and rpm. Whereas a swimming pool warm up area is crucial for swimmers to prepare. The right time as to when exactly do I start the WUR is another key aspect, not allowing too much inactive waiting time before the start of the race. Get too close to the start while performing your WUR, and you will be left panting even before the race started. So time, rehearse and implement this like a Swiss accurate watch.

Mental / psychological prep that something is about to happen, therefore automatically raising the level of alertness to get you motivated and excited is a normal thing. This should happen naturally, but experience will help you guide and gauge the level of anxiety required pre-start. Getting overwhelmed with emotions and feelings of stress and anxiety is for first –timers something new, and can throw you off, but with time this will become more manageable.

Keeping your focus and expectations clear in your mind, having rehearsed what will follow and how will you tackle the race, separates the successful achievement of personal goals, from failure of that.

Have a great race.


*K.N. is an Exercise Physiologist, graduate of the University of Alabama, an ACSM certified Health & Fitness Instructor, holds an ITU  Level II Certification as a Triathlon Coach, and is a multiple Ironman & Half Ironman Triathlon finisher. He is coaching Triathletes online, teaches Functional Training at f/3dfts, and performs Exercise Physiology assessments at the Cyprus Sports & Research Center. www.ryltoday.com

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