It will help you to get the most out of your body for that particular race or training session.
While an ideal warm up may vary for each person, a period of light exercise or ‘easing into’ a session will do a number of things in assisting you:
Divert blood to the appropriate areas that will need it, mainly the muscles and cardiovascular system, improve your range of movement; which is particularly important for most of us that train first thing in the morning, when our body’s have stiffened up while we have been asleep or straight after work, when the same thing has happened. A good warm up will also prepare the cardiovascular system for exercise, increase heart stroke volume, raise the temperature of muscles and improve the bodies use of fatty acids in the initial exercise phase. All of these aspects will aid in the prevention of injuries, during daily training and racing.
It is recommended that a warm up will last around 10-20min, depending on the fitness level and nature of the session to be completed and is usually done at low intensity. Some dynamic stretches are also a very good idea to help prevent injuries and may include things like knee lifts, bottom kicks or rotation of the shoulders.
This is also the ideal time to do drills or neuromuscular retraining, as the body learns new skills best when fresh and is more likely to change motor or movement patterns in the early phase of exercise. This is a poorly understood and underutilized way to improve your triathlon performance by improving efficiency and economy.
The warm up will also help to focus your mind prior to a race and help to prevent the body from becoming anaerobic (accumulation of lactic acid) at the start of a race when the intensity is usually high and sudden.
The warm down is a commonly over looked phase of training and definitely of racing, as we are usually tired and think the session is over after the main set or the race has been completed. The Warm Down is however an essential part of each session and race and will greatly assist recovery and your ability to ‘back up’ sessions. A good way to warm down following a race or training session is to have a light jog/spin and perhaps a swim, followed by a good stretch. This will help to flush any lactic acid or by-products that have accumulated in the muscles or soft tissue during exercise. The stretching will help to lengthen out the muscles which have tightened up as a result of contracting hard during training and racing and will prevent you from starting the next session tight and stiff.
Other things which will aid in the recovery process include;
- Compression garments
- Post workout meal inc. protein
- Ice baths
I gave a seminar on this earlier this year on important aspects or recovery and if you would like the information sheet for it or have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.
Until next time, happy training and racing!