Race Day Warm Up

A warm up is designed to prepare your body for the activity ahead. This will assist in preventing injury such as muscle fibre tears but also help prevent you feeling lethargic at the beginning of the race. 

The warm up increases your heart rate, blood flow to working muscles & ventilation (breathing) amongst other things. It will also kick start your aerobic energy system, the one that will continue to supply you with energy throughout your event.

Below are a series of different warm ups for a variety of events and situations. On occasions your coach may alter this to suit the outcome of the event or session but this may be used as a general guide.

Run, Cycle or Swim Specific Event

The duration of the warm up will largely depend on what the aim of the race is. If you are completing a training race or C race, a longer (up to 60mins) aerobic warm up would be more preferential. For an A race, a shorter 10-15min aerobic warm up may be more suitable. 

Regardless of the duration, be sure to complete a few strides or pick ups. This may be 10-20sec in duration and be calculated by strokes (swimming) or distance/time for cycle/run. Have double or triple amount of recovery time after each effort. Around 5-6 is a good number.

If you are particularly tight in a certain muscle some drills may be useful for running. See Training Peak’s blog on running drills.

Aim to complete your warm up close by or on the race course as much as possible. Take the time to check conditions such as road/path surface, temperature, wind direction, entry/exit points of swim, corners etc.

Multisport or Triathlon Event

A triathlon warm up doesn’t necessarily involve all three sports. You may select 1-2 sports depending on access to equipment and time/space. Your total warm up time may vary from 10-30mins in total.

Complete the same warm up as mentioned above – swim, bike and/or run. 

Things to note:

  • You’ll only have access to your bike if you have’t already racked it
  • Bring a second pair of shoes for your run warm up
  • If you don’t have access to a swim warm up, use a theraband or old spare tube to complete some pull throughs or complete some arm swings

Further Reading

GPC Squad – Triathlon Race Schedule

GPC Squad – Acute Responses to Exercise

The Injury Clinic – Warm Up Strategies