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quality race warmup tips?

Old 06-19-11, 04:29 PM
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quality race warmup tips?

My girlfriend is in her second year of racing crits, currently cat 3 and gaining points rapidly. She was complaining today about how she feels early in races - her heart rate stays sky high for the first several laps, and her quads may get a strong burn, a sensation that she never gets even on killer group rides with the fastest boys in town. Some of this is nerves of course, but probably not all of it. Any ideas for what might cause this in terms of warming up? Currently I'm under the impression that she does kind of a medium pace on the trainer for maybe half an hour, then gets out to do what road riding she can manage near whatever the locality provides.

She had been in the money in every one of her cat 3 races this year despite these complaints, but this weekend she got dropped for the first time ever, so now she spent the rest of the weekend analyzing many possible weak links!
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Old 06-19-11, 05:43 PM
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When Warming Up for Exercise, Less May Be More
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/0...s-may-be-more/
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Old 06-19-11, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees
When Warming Up for Exercise, Less May Be More
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/0...s-may-be-more/
that warm up sounds like hell. my warm up for the state road race was 45 minutes long with about 10 minutes of it doing any real type of intensity.
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Old 06-19-11, 10:43 PM
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Everybody's warm-up will probably be different. It's how your (her) body responds.

For my crits, 45-mins to 1 hour, I'll take about 20-30 mins of warm-up. In that time, I'll pedal steady for about 5-10 mins, then start doing some intervals after. The intervals start off slow and short, and increase in duration and intensity. I'll do about 5 of them over 5-10 mins. Then, more steady riding for another 5 mins or so. I'll get to the line with about 5-10 mins before start, and slowly ride around to keep the legs going. With 1-2 mins to go, I'll stage myself for the start.

If it's hot out, I cut the warm-up shorter. If it's cool, I'll bundle up like crazy and try to keep it that way until race start. I aim for getting a drop or two of sweat off my brow.
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Old 06-19-11, 10:45 PM
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Did she get dropped in the first minutes of the race?
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Old 06-20-11, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by brianappleby
Did she get dropped in the first minutes of the race?
No, I think it was about 30 minutes into a 45 minute race. It was the first of her races I didn't attend this season, so I'm not sure. But at some point she just found herself off the back and didn't have anything in the tank. She had a bad week and some tummy problems, so that's likely the main cause. Two weeks before she soloed to bridge a huge gap to the best of the same girls.

So I'm asking about the warmup not because she got dropped this week, but because of the way she's felt in early on in most of her races. Knowing that she's in the money in the Cat 3's almost every race and beating plenty of 1's and 2's, we'd hope that if she could get her legs and body to feel "right" from the starting line instead of ten laps in, she might be killing them all!
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Old 06-20-11, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by theopowers
No, I think it was about 30 minutes into a 45 minute race. It was the first of her races I didn't attend this season, so I'm not sure. But at some point she just found herself off the back and didn't have anything in the tank. She had a bad week and some tummy problems, so that's likely the main cause. Two weeks before she soloed to bridge a huge gap to the best of the same girls.

So I'm asking about the warmup not because she got dropped this week, but because of the way she's felt in early on in most of her races. Knowing that she's in the money in the Cat 3's almost every race and beating plenty of 1's and 2's, we'd hope that if she could get her legs and body to feel "right" from the starting line instead of ten laps in, she might be killing them all!


I have experienced that same burn but only if I try to push it hard on the first lap/laps.

One of the most successful racers in my area once told me that his warm-up routine is just easy/moderate spinning for about 30-45 minutes with no intervals at all.

I have been warming up this way now for about 1 year and it really seems to help with my races, mostly because I used to waste too much energy prior to the start.

I think that the logic for doing a really hard warm-up is if you plan to attack from the start of the race. Otherwise then it doesn't make much sense.
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Old 06-20-11, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by fordfasterr
I have experienced that same burn but only if I try to push it hard on the first lap/laps.

One of the most successful racers in my area once told me that his warm-up routine is just easy/moderate spinning for about 30-45 minutes with no intervals at all.

I have been warming up this way now for about 1 year and it really seems to help with my races, mostly because I used to waste too much energy prior to the start.

I think that the logic for doing a really hard warm-up is if you plan to attack from the start of the race. Otherwise then it doesn't make much sense.

I agree with this. I usually like to do maybe a few efforts before a crit or a few sprints, but in all honesty I think they are only necessary if you are really closed up and haven't done good openers the day before (I usually feel no better after doing them than I do when starting road races which I go into almost cold). One of my teammates who has been racing for 20 years and is a great sprinter (and all arounder) usually just rolls around for 20-30 minutes easy before the start.

I'd say look more at nutrition, hydration, or lingering fatigue levels if she is getting dropped in the later parts of the race as that would seem to me that would be more likely the cause than improper warmup.
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Old 06-20-11, 07:15 AM
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It's normal to feel bad at the beginning of the race if you're in a race that's at your limit physiologically - it's when everyone is feeling most frisky. You have to respond to everything until things calm down.

In tough races I get shelled within a few laps.

If the strong riders wait, or if it's manageable, the next hard part is the "last bit", which is usually the last 10-15 minutes of the race.

If she got dropped 30 min in, the warm up probably had little to do with it. It seems that she handled the initial barrage fine, ran into problems when the final act started.

I know women's fields tend to be much smaller and therefore shelter is usually at a premium. It's important that she recognize how to sit in, how critical gaps are (even a few feet can be fatal when it's hard).

If she can bridge gaps, she obviously has a lot of speed/power.

Last edited by carpediemracing; 06-20-11 at 09:42 AM. Reason: how to "sit in", not how to "sit"
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Old 06-20-11, 08:49 AM
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45 minutes easy spinning works for me usually. Maybe throw in a 5 minute effort, but not too hard.
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Old 06-20-11, 09:39 AM
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I only need a couple minutes. Just spin easy, then two jumps. If I can get over 1500W in the 2nd jump, I know I'm ready for anything.
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Old 06-20-11, 10:26 AM
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It depends on the race. I warm up differently for crits, road races, and TT's. At a bare minimum, I have to ride for at least 20 minutes to wake the old body up. If I took the day before off and didn't do openers, after 15 minutes easy, I'll do one or two at 80% a couple of cogs lower than my normal flat sprint cog, spinning to 130+ rpm. How my legs recover from them will determine what else I'll do to warm up.

You mentioned several times that she's doing well against good competition and that she trains with men. What you didn't discuss was her workout routine and whether she is getting enough rest. She may not have a warmup issue, she may have an overall fatigue issue. Many young racers make the mistake of riding their legs into the toilet because they've had early success.
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Old 06-20-11, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by shovelhd

You mentioned several times that she's doing well against good competition and that she trains with men. What you didn't discuss was her workout routine and whether she is getting enough rest. She may not have a warmup issue, she may have an overall fatigue issue. Many young racers make the mistake of riding their legs into the toilet because they've had early success.
That's true and I'm aware of it, and it's very likely you'll see me asking more specific questions about overall training later on. The fact is I don't know her training log beyond her saying "I did hill repeats today" or "intervals" today or whatever. Certainly she has a decent weekly program put together from hearsay and books, she knows she could do better. We've discussed some local or Internet coaching and that's something i may ask for advice about that in the future. She did actually burn herself out her first season last year, so that's less likely to be the problem.

I mentioned her getting dropped not specifically looming for advice about that in this thread, but just as a haha about why she's suddenly mulling her warmup after a season and a half of racing. Pretty sure it was just an outlier due to some tummy problems during the week.

I am interested about hearing more about good "openers" the day prior. She may already be doing that but I don't know.
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Old 06-20-11, 12:24 PM
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To restate my original question perhaps more clearly, she has two complaints. First, that nerves seem to keep her heart rate sky high through the first part of the race, potentially burning up more energy than necessary and hampering her already decent finishes. So advice about reducing prerace jitters might help.

And second, she gets a burn in her quads that she never experiences at any other time despite her hardest efforts. My theory is that nerves are making her mash the pedals early in the race. Was looking for a potential solution to that or other possible causes. My other theory, which I consider pretty unlikely, is that warming up on a trainer she doesn't normally use affects her muscle recruitment patterns.
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Old 06-20-11, 12:43 PM
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Does she have a computer that does cadence/stores data?

As for the nerves, I know guys who are cat1's and have been racing for ~20 years that tell me they still get butterflies on the starting line.
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Old 06-20-11, 12:50 PM
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some of my best races have been with almost no warmup.

some were with a very long one.
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Old 06-20-11, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by theopowers
To restate my original question perhaps more clearly, she has two complaints. First, that nerves seem to keep her heart rate sky high through the first part of the race, potentially burning up more energy than necessary and hampering her already decent finishes. So advice about reducing prerace jitters might help.

And second, she gets a burn in her quads that she never experiences at any other time despite her hardest efforts. My theory is that nerves are making her mash the pedals early in the race. Was looking for a potential solution to that or other possible causes. My other theory, which I consider pretty unlikely, is that warming up on a trainer she doesn't normally use affects her muscle recruitment patterns.
On nerves, there's nothing to do for anxiety over expected performance. That's something that happens no matter what - you always read about pros who couldn't sleep the night before. Lemond was known for not sleeping a lot when not totally secure in his overall position, and I've read about other pros that admitted to having a sleepless night. I know that I've gotten only a couple hours sleep before some of my big races.

The best way to deal with nerves is to race all the time. Most races are "B" races, not really important. There may only be one or two A races a year, and 20-50 B races. A training race or three during the week, one or two races on the weekend... suddenly it's not a big deal to race.

If she's uncomfortable with pack riding, close quarters drills are the best thing. Practice touching wheels, elbows, hips, etc. Being totally comfortable in the pack really helps with nerves - if you're not nervous at all in the field, you have that much more energy to put towards other things.

On the muscle bit, it's possible that when under extreme pressure she is using either a slight different position like sliding forward a lot more or something (kind of likely) or using a rarely-used position a lot like being on the drops with a low back (very likely). I expect two things in the spring when I haven't been racing - one is the crick in my neck from my first all out sprint. The second is the sore glutes when I do my first hard race and I spend a lot of time down low while riding hard (vs down low while riding easy). By mid-summer I've acclimated - sprints don't result in a half-pulled neck, and hard races result in overall soreness, not extreme soreness in particular parts of my legs.

Without riding like she does in races (meaning hand/saddle position, pedaling style), she'll always have to go through some adaptation feelings after finishing a race situation.

A great solution to the soreness thing is to focus on races and hard group rides. Allow for proper recovery but emphasize that kind of riding, where she's forced to get into "racing mode".
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Old 06-20-11, 02:48 PM
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As far as warm up goes, in the 2010 Bethel Spring Series helmet cam clips, I warmed up for 0-20 seconds for all but the last race (I rode easy for 20 minutes or so that last day). I rode my bike from registration to the start line; one day I walked it to the line. The 2011 clip, at the end, shows the 70 or 100 feet I had to ride to get to the start line. I had a great record on those warm ups - 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, and a few of those races were pretty hard with the pace relentless.

I feel comfortable with minimal warm ups even hard races. Sitting in, even going with moves, it's all okay with 0-10 minutes on my legs, easy spinning, more a check on equipment than anything else.

I did spend several years "practicing" going hard from the gun, i.e. I'd do a big effort within a minute or two of getting on the bike. I don't know if this helped me but it certainly helped me figure out how to deal with hard efforts with no warm up.
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Old 06-20-11, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by kensuf
Does she have a computer that does cadence/stores data?
She has cadence on the bike she raced last year, hasn't moved it to her new bike. Not sure if it stores data.
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