trackcycling‘s head coach Lee Povey presents the first of a regular series of articles on training and preparing for track racing. The first instalment covers pre-race preparation and warm up.
Arrive early – it is much better to be too early than too late. Set off with plenty of time to spare so your journey is relaxed and don’t under estimate how much a rushed journey can impact on your performance.
If you are travelling with someone else perhaps another competitor or friend/family it is often tempting to talk about the upcoming event. In my opinion this is best avoided and left until you are actually at the event. In the past I have found competitors can often arrive over excited/nervous due to over-analysis on the way.
Once at the track prepare your bike and warm up/pit area. Keep this area as neat and tidy as you can as this will make it easier to find things should you need to in a hurry. I advise arriving with your warm up gearing already on and bike ready bar the minimum needed to transport it. Sign on if needed, check the program and note when you are due to race, then get changed, put numbers on and be ready to warm up. As a side note now is not the time to try new shoes, cleat position, saddle heights etc! Always try these in training first so there are no mishaps on race day.
Remember what the warm up is for; it is to physically and mentally prepare you for the race(s) ahead. You should finish your warm up feeling ready and able to perform to the max, not tired – or still cold. Practice your warm ups in training so they feel second nature on race day.
Typical warm ups would be :
Sprint warm ups would start with 15 minutes on a smallish gear (usually 79”-84”) around the track finished by a 90% flying sprint of 100m. Come back in change to race gear and roughly 15 minutes after finishing first part of warm up go back out and do a full on flying 100m effort practicing your line for the upcoming 200m TT. This effort is done at 100% and approx 20-30 minutes before you are due to qualify, after have an easy 5 minutes spinning on rollers or infield and then another 5 minutes again before you race.
Preparing for the the Kilo requires the same 15 minute routine as the sprint – however instead of flying sprint change to race gear and do two 50-75m starts. Do the first at 90% and the second full on at 100% – with no more than 5 minutes rest between them. Then after 5 minutes of gentle circulating do a progressive 300-500m effort seated on race gear, building up to around 90% of race pace. Aim to do this approximately 30 minutes before you race and have an easy 5 minutes on rollers or rolling around the infield after effort and before race.
For the pursuit, follow the same program as the kilo but do the 500m flying effort at race pace.
For distance races, 30 minutes on track progressively getting quicker with a couple of flying laps at 90% of max speed mixed in followed by 5 minutes easy riding approximately 10-20 minutes before the race.
The routines above examples are suggestions for a starting point in developing your own warm up; find out what works for you as we are all different. When you find a warm up you feel comfortable with use it in training and racing so it becomes second nature, this should help you to reproduce training form on race day.
Make sure during the warm up process you are suitably clothed to allow your muscles to fully warm up (you should break out into a sweat) and you are constantly hydrating.
If it is difficult to get on the track (say your event is later in the program and there is no break before it) you may have to do a roller warm up. For sprint events, I would recommend 5 minutes easy – 5 minutes medium pace – 5 minutes progressively getting harder and faster – finishing with a 10 second rev out followed by a further 5 minutes easy.
For endurance events, approximately 30 minutes on the rollers, getting progressively harder, with a couple of 15 second sprints mixed in ending in 5 minutes easy spinning.
Warming up is an ideal time to think what you need to do in your racing. Concentrate on how you want to ride, not on thinking about the outcome. Think about what you want to do and say positive things to yourself like “I want to take control of the race and dominate tactically”, “I am feeling quick and strong today”; do not let yourself get caught up in negative thinking! The subconscious mind can not process negatives so if you say something to yourself along the lines of “Don’t mess up” or “Don’t fall off” the chances are you will!
Music can be a great help here; well chosen tracks can put you in the right state of mental arousal to perform at your best and remind you of others times you have performed well. Of course, if using an ipod or similar on the track make sure you can still hear the warnings/info from other riders and officials.
You should now be warmed up, psyched up and ready to win!