The Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 9.10.12. “Racin’ ”

Howdy folks,

It’s Sunday, and yup… that means it’s Race Day (at least here in Seattle.)

That makes today’s plan pretty darn easy to figure out.

Go race.

It’s super early in the season. Heck, it’s barely even the season.

Keep that in mind today.

Go hard, but don’t get too down on yourself if things don’t work out perfectly.

If you’re feeling a little bit behind the eightball, and this is way too damn early to go full-gas for an hour, that’s OK.

Break the race up into manageable sections, and meter your efforts.

Drill it in small chunks.

Nail the start and the first lap, then back off for the second.

Pile it back on for the third lap, taper down a bit for part of the next. Etc. , etc.

If you’re riding at 100% right now, you’re probably doing things wrong (unless your entire season is geared around doing well at StarCross. If it is? You damn well better be fast right now :) )

Above all, have fun.

SO, OK – that’s The Workout Of The Day, right?


Today, we’re all about Warming It Up.

I have had a couple of requests to talk about how the he** to warm up for a race, so here you go…

First of all, don’t overdo it.

I see way, way too many people spending a ridiculous amount of time on their trainers before the race, and frankly, I think a huge number of racers leave their best effort of the day back in the tent on the Gerbil Wheel before the race.

Don’t let this be you.

If you feel like you need to spend more than an hour warming up for your race, frankly you’re doing something wrong.

There’s been a fair bit written about warming up for cycling events, and if you spend any time at all reading through some of the stuff that’s out there, you will no doubt find that the only commonality is that most everyone disagrees.

Until you start reading some of the science, and some of the warm-up protocols suggested by those who have also read the science.

Here’s an interesting study –

With an interesting conclusion…

During endurance events of intermediate duration (4-5 min), performance is enhanced by warm-up irrespective of warm-up intensity

Note this interesting bit in the results –

There were no differences in anaerobic power output during the trials, but aerobic power output during the first 1000 m was larger during both EWU (203 W) and HWU (208 W) versus NWU (163 W) trials.

I pretty much never warm up for road races, unless I Know the first few K are going to be pedal to the metal. When people ask how I can get away with this (and they do!) I always respond with “that’s what the first lap/loop/5k is for…”

You can’t get away with this in Cyclocross.

You need to hit that first K, hell that first hundred meters at 100%, with all guns blazing.

Warming up definitely improves your aerobic power output over the first K of a race.

End of story. You need to warm up for Cyclocross.

How much do you need to warm up?

Well, here’s where we get into interesting territory.

The study I linked to above basically showed no difference between the results of warm ups conducted at different levels of intensity and duration. The key was simply to warm up, get the legs turning over.

However you do it, warming up helps.


Remember this the next time all hell breaks loose and you can barely get in any kind of a workout before your race. Even a little bit of a warm up helps.

OK, it’s just a study. Heck, it’s just one study.

Frankly, for Cyclocross, I think you need to warm up pretty hard, if for no other reason than that you don’t want the shock of that F-ing start effort to hit your body (and mind!) like a ton of bricks.

What you don’t need to do is warm up for a long time.

After a certain point, all a long warmup does is get you tired. And that ain’t good…


OK, so what should your warm up look like?

Something like this…

Get on your bike.

Ride at a super easy level for 5 minutes. No pressure on pedals, recovery day light.

5 minutes more at just one notch higher.

2-3 minutes at right around your 20 minute output level.


2-3 minutes at one notch/gear easier

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes easy…

30 second race pace effort.

recover for 2 minutes…

2 full-gas start efforts, 2 minutes between them.

Spin for 5 minutes.

Go race.


That’s kinda’ the “In a perfect world” warm up.

In reality, you need to figure in course preview, getting all your stuff schlepped to where it needs to be, registration, yada, yada…

Ideally, your race day would look like this:

Wake up.

Eat breakfast.

Ride for an hour.

Snack, take a nap.

Eat lunch (3 hours before race.)

Course preview

(while mechanic preps bikes, team staff handles everything else.)

Snack, electrolyte drink, change into race clothing.

Warm up.


Yeah, right.

Oh well, we try.

Get as close to that as you can, and remember – the science shows that any warm up is better than none!

I’ve managed to do really well in races where the only warm up I got was a 1 or 2 lap preview of the course.

If you are forced to choose, always pre-ride rather than warm up.

You get a less than perfect course preview, and a less than perfect warm up, but part of each is better than none of one!

Ok, after all that, are you ready for the reality-based warm up?

Quite frankly, this is what I wind up doing most of the time, and almost always if I wind up stuck on the Gerbil Machine. It’s the –

R.S.W.O. – The Rock Stupid Warm-up and Opener –

First, get everything you need to do before the race done. Sign up, course preview, etc., etc. More questions you probably didn’t even have on the topic of race day routine answered here –

– Get on trainer. Spin for about 5 minutes.

– 2-3 minutes at your 20 minute output level

– Shift into big ring/largest cog combination.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Ride 30 seconds in this gear, then shift up one cog.

– Repeat until you hit the hardest gear you’ve got, or can handle.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, and then shift all the way back down to the Big/big combo.

– Ride 30 seconds in that gear, then immediately shift to hardest gear you can handle.

– Full gas sprint, out of the saddle,  for 30 seconds.

Back to big/big combo.

– Spin for two minutes.

Repeat The entire sequence (Usually minus the 2nd “20 minute level” effort.


Hey… not racing today?

Ouch… looks like you waded through a bunch of stuff to get to your workout!

Well, can’t let you down, can I?

You get The Doppelganger today! (Yup. click on it.)

Have fun!



* If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when I say “20 minute level”, enter “2×20″ in the search box on the right side of the page…

** The Warm Up routines I describe here are actually pretty hard, and believe it or not, are likely to be too damn hard and too long for non-elite racers.  You will need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to cut the warm up short, or go easier. You don’t get a prize for winning the damn warmup…

Click here to find out more!

~ by crosssports on September 9, 2012.

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