Thursday, October 20, 2016

Warming Up for an Xterra Race

by PCG Elite Coach Bill Earthman

When we discuss warm ups for endurance events like Xterra racing, we really want to look at a couple of key factors in determining the type of warmup we can do.

The first factor is based on the layout of the event. The second factor is how much time do you allow yourself to do a proper warmup.  Once we determine these factors, we can really decide the proper warmup to do.

The event location is important in determining warmup because some events don’t allow you access to certain areas of the course, so you need to figure out where can you get your body and your mind ready to race.

The second factor is how much time do you have to get ready.  Hopefully, you have allowed yourself at least 60-90 minutes to get setup and do a proper warmup.

Once you have determined that you are ready to warmup, there are several warmups you can do to wake up the body and get your head ready for a fast start.

The reverse triathlon warmup is pretty common in the triathlon and Xterra world. In this warmup, the athlete would start with 10-15 minutes of running from an easy pace up to 30-60 second bursts at race pace.  After your run, you would do 10-15 minutes easy on the bike with 4-6 bursts of 15-seconds at sprint pace.  I would suggest moving through the gears to make sure there are no shifting problems and try to keep cadence higher to really get the legs used to a nice turn over.  The bike portion of this warmup may be done on or off the course.  I prefer on the course because it allows me to dial in my mountain bike skills.  Finally, hop in the water and swim 200-500 yards, building to race pace for a couple of minutes.  It is important to try and finish your warmup relatively close to the start of your race.

If you are like me, sometimes life happens, and for whatever reason you don’t have ample time to do the reverse warmup, you can combine any of the disciplines, but I would suggest always finish with the swim so that you are at the starting line ready to go.

A few important things to remember are: If the weather is really hot, I would shorten the length of your warmup so you don’t bring on fatigue quicker than necessary.  Make sure you hydrate and/ or fuel according to the intensity and duration of the warmup and the weather.  You don’t want to start the race dehydrated or in a caloric deficit.

Finally, race success is often determined by how well we prime the mind and body for the event.  A successful warmup is one of the important rituals we can establish to insure a great race day.