By Coach Ian Jones
We recognise that some sort of pre-race warming up is a good thing because it helps us perform better and maybe prevents us from pulling muscles too. But how much warming up should we do, what is too much or too little or even why bother and save our energy for the race instead?
This article is intended for when preparing your body for maximal race efforts lasting between 15 – 60 min
Why bother warming up?
When baking a cake, the cake mixture goes into a pre-heated oven otherwise the cake remains flat during cooking time. The similarity of warming up an oven applies to our own bodies too because we have 3 main energy systems that need to be primed first before they work at their best optimum levels. Without those energy systems primed, we carry the ‘cold oven’ burden too, throughout the race and our maximal race performance remains flat. Our 3 main energy systems are;
Alactic or ATP-CP system – rapid pure energy delivered very quickly and we store only about 15 - 30 seconds worth. Great for those fast race starts.
Anaerobic system - supplies energy when available oxygen capacity is exceeded, i.e. can make energy when oxygen supply is insufficient against demand. Great for tackling a hard hill or those end-of-race kicks.
Aerobic system - the long-duration energy system. Great for cruising along at a good tempo.
How long does it take to warm-up these systems?
It takes 25 minutes in total to warm-up and prime, each of the energy systems including general mobilisation.
Race start; Minus 30-35 min
5 min easy (Aerobic)
Use this time to prepare mentally into ‘the zone’. Total focus with no conversations; think about your race plan and effort that’s going to be needed.
5 min mobilisation exercises
8 min easy progressive to very hard (Aerobic – Anaerobic)
Take 50-100ml of energy drink after
2 min easy (Aerobic)
2 min easy to include 3 x 6sec sprints (Alactic)
3 min easy (Aerobic)
Take 50ml of energy drink or water
Remove warming up top in cool weather
Move towards start area
Race start; Minus 5 min
Be at the start line.
So what about warming up for longer races?
Events like half marathon and marathon it’s not as critical to be primed for performance from the gun like it is for shorter races. Some adjustments need to be made to this warm-up routine.
For the half-marathon, perform the same routine but without the sprints and recovery (21 min total). Take 100ml more energy drink afterwards.
For the marathon, the same starting aerobic and mobilisation exercises will be sufficient.