"It's all right letting yourself go as long as you can let yourself back." Mick Jagger
Warm-up – But it’s pretty warm already!
The physiological basis for warm-ups has been described in a previous tip. You may have questions as to how to warm-up. The warm-ups you perform should be based on the workout you’re going to do:
Recovery Days – no warm-up is necessary. Recovery days should be run, cycled and swum at a relaxed comfortable pace, so warming up is not necessary. You will not be raising your heart rate any where near your Lactate Threshold during these workouts.
Long Workouts – start at a slightly slower pace that your goal pace for the workout and after 5 to 10 minutes gradually begin to increase your pace to goal pace. The first 20 to 30 minutes of a long workout should be used as your warm-up period.
Hard Workouts – this is the often forgotten part of a hard workout. Any workout that will raise your HR above 80% of maximum should be preceded by a warm-up and followed by a cool-down.
The warm-up should be at a comfortable pace – conversational pace. Swimming 200 to 500 yards including some kick sets is sufficient. Cycling 2 to 4 miles, spinning at a high cadence in an easy gear is sufficient. Running 1 to 2 miles at barely faster than a jog is sufficient.
Race Day – the warm-up depends on your event.
Running races should involve 2 to 3 miles of easy jogging. For shorter races (5 Km) jog the course. Then do 4 to 6 pick-ups – relaxed quick runs of 50 to 100 yards. For longer races, jog easy for 20 to 30 minutes and then do 4 to 5 pick-ups. For marathon distance (or longer) races you can use the first couple of miles to warm-up and an easy jog for 1 to 2 miles is sufficient. Complete your warm-up within 5 to 10 minute of the start.
Triathlon – sprints and Olympic distance events: spin on your bike for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a high cadence and an easy gear. Check out your bike – be certain you can get into every gear, your brakes are functioning properly and everything is tight and race ready and leave it in the gear you need to start the bike leg of the race. Then, jog for about 5 to 10 minutes. This is an easy jog – don’t do any pick-ups. Finally, get your wetsuit on and get in the water. There are two goals in the swim warm-up. First is to raise your heart rate and warm-up your muscles. Second is to relax and calm pre-race jitters. Focus on a smooth long stroke and a good glide. Spend 10 to 15 minutes in the water swimming and working on your stroke technique. Get out of the water 5 minutes prior to the start (or the start of your wave).
For Half and full Ironman distance events the warm-up should be a bit shorter. Spin on your bike for 10 minutes. Don’t forget to checkout your bike and leave it in the gear you need to start the bike leg of the race. Jog for about 5 minutes and swim for 10 minutes. Swim for 5 to 10 minutes. Get out of the water 5 minutes prior to the start. Start each leg of your race a bit slower than goal pace and after about 5 minutes begin to pick-up your pace.