Triathlon Tips: Prerace Warmup

Prerace Warmup

Let’s keep it simple: being successful is accomplishing a goal that means something to you.

Time to Wake Up!

You’ve  picked up your packet, set up your transition area, said hello to your friends and scoped out the competition.  It is now time to focus on preparing your body for the beating it is about to endure. It’s time to warm up.

Why Bother?

The human body is a complex machine that has developed over millions of years of evolution.  (If you are a creationist, please put your own spin on this.  The general message applies just the same. ) Throughout human existence, aerobic and anaerobic exertion of the muscles have saved our species from extinction.  However, muscles can not simply perform amazing feats of strength and endurance without preparation.

Why?, you ask.

The answer is simple.  The human body is not a battery and motor.  It is a complex system of gooey, mushy tissues that are fed by blood vessels and activated by nerves.  Muscle cells, like all other cells, require oxygen and a fuel source (think carbs, fats, glycogen, etc.).  Both must be mobilized and different sources of fuel are mobilized at different rates.  Warming up begins the process of mobilizing the fuel and oxygen.

What the Experts Recommend

DISCLAIMER:  This author is not an expert in exercise physiology (or anything else for that matter!).  

One of my favorite books on triathlon training is Joe Friel’s book, “The Triathlete’s Training Bible”.  From pages 135 to 137 of the second edition book, Friel describes in excellent detail the warm up process.

He recommends spending about 15 minutes for each sport during the warmup process.  And you have to do it backwards!  So that’s a total of 45 minutes in your warm up routine starting with running and ending with swimming.

What I Do That Works For Me

I agree with all that rational about warming up and the effect it has on the body.  However, I don’t spend 45 minutes at it.  I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be done.  I’m just saying that I don’t do it.    Here’s my typical warm up routine:

LG's Warm Up Routine

TimeWarm Up Activity
5 min.Stretch the legs with active stretching.
10 min. (max)Run out on to the run course. Start EZ and build to a zone 2. Add a couple of quick pickups to open up the legs.
5 min.Stretch the arms in preparation for swimming.
10 min.Swim EZ and build to race pace then just relax in the water (treading water or sitting).

For an open water swim, It is best to first warm up at the swim exit point and then warm up at the swim entrance point.  That’s not always possible as is the case with Ironman 70.3 North Carolina where the swim exit is not accessible before the race.    However, at

Swim exit at White Lake
Swim exit for the White Lake races.

most races, it is possible to swim from the exit to the last turn or marker buoy and back.  This will do the muscle warm up and will show you what to look for as you are finishing your swim.   Things to look for are landmarks for swimming straight and uneven sand drifts or rock beds for when you stand up.

My warm up routine does not include the bike unless I have time.  If I arrive at the race extra early, I’ll warm up on the bike before I set up my gear in transition.   My bike performance is rarely the best in my age group, but I don’t believe that it has suffered from a lack of warm up.  The most important warm up for me is the swim, the swim is my warmup for the bike ride.

Mental Preparation

I agree with the experts that a physical warmup is necessary for optimal performance.  I also believe that you have to be in the right frame of mind when you begin a race.

If you start the race with a pissed off frame of mind, you are setting yourself up for failure.  On the other hand, if you start with an outlook of excitement and gratitude, you’re likely to have a great race regardless of your performance.

Find What Works for You

You have to find what works best for you, because the main goal is to arrive at the start line feeling relaxed, confident, and ready to perform.

See you at the races.

Stay to the right, pass on the left and keep on smiling
LG

TriRiot... Like it, Love it, Follow it. But don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t eat it (not FDA approved 🙂 ):