Question: How should my pre-race
warm-up be different for a marathon or longer race than a XC distance race?
Answer: The start of an endurance
race is as crucial to race placing as it is in XC racing. In endurance racing,
the entire field (all age groups and categories) starts as one mixed group mass
start. It is common to have hundreds of racers starting at the same time. XC
racers usually have the advantage of starting and competing with only their
category members for position at the first race bottleneck. Endurance race
starts are larger, more crowded, chaotic and fast!
The traffic aspect of
the mass field start in endurance races has a large tactical impact on race
strategies. A pro man starting slowly may end up with enough age group racers out
in front on the single track that he would have little chance of regaining
contact with the lead group. A pro woman starting fast can potentially put 30
age group racers between her and the next pro woman on the single track, which
is an obvious advantage.
The most effective pre-race
warm-up for a marathon (or longer race than a XC distance) event depends on how
fast you plan to start.
For marathon up to 100-mile
distances, if you plan on a fast start to gain a superior position on the first
section of single track: you must be warmed up and ready to drill it when the
gun goes off. Your warm-up will not differ from your XC warm-up.
For any endurance distance
race, if you plan to ride at a conservative, steady pace with a focus on
finishing: the best warm-up is a 5-10 minute aerobic spin to loosen up. Use the
actual start of the race to complete your warm-up. This preserves muscle
glycogen for the race.
Donít confuse or mix-up these
two strategies! Plan to warm up well and start fast, or start conservatively
and use the first part of the race to warm-up.
For endurance distance
events lasting 24 hours and longer, a light aerobic spin for 10 minutes is a
sufficient warm-up. All you need to do is loosen up and get in the ride flow.
The start of the race will complete your warm-up. A more substantial warm-up
prior to a 24 hour or longer event may impair performance if it results in
residual fatigue or glycogen depletion.
Lynda Wallenfels is a
USA Cycling Cat 1 certified cycling coach and pro mountain bike racer. She is
owner of LWCoaching.com.