Time trialing is something that all triathletes do in a triathlon – but we rarely go and take part in stand alone time trials. Here are some tips on how to warm up for a time trial – though for sprint and Olympic triathlons you could easily incorporate some of the tips into your warmup.
Time Trialing is Great for Triathletes
Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack does it, Chrissie Wellington does it, do you do it?
When Macca and Chrissie rode the time trial (stage 9) of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California they demonstrated the similarities between time trialling and the bike leg of triathlon. Competing in triathlon is expensive, race entries alone for long distance events is commonly hundreds of pounds before factoring in the additional costs of travel, accommodation, nutrition etc. Time trialling however is a regular, cheap event put on by local cycling clubs across the UK and given a little planning can form an ideal part of your annual training plan. Maybe it’s time you tried it?
Checklists are Great
The first thing I’d like to propose is that every rider who is travelling to a race (swim, bike or run) that involves a car journey should make a checklist which includes anything they may need for the event, including warm-up and cool down. The things I’ve heard that riders have forgotten already this season include, race licence, cold weather clothing (‘the sun was shining when I left home and I didn’t think..’), fluid, pump/adaptor for disc wheel inflation and even a turbo/rollers for warm up.
Think about making a checklist, maybe even laminating it and chuck it in your kit bag? If nothing else it’ll prompt you to think about what you really need and not just how nice your race bike looks! The coaching staff at British Cycling are very keen on these as they reduce potential stress on race day for very little effort – marginal gains, as the Sky team would say.
Why Warm Up?
Warm ups – again a very common area overlooked by riders in my experience.
How many times have you used the first few miles of the race as your warm up and not achieved the pb you’d hoped for? Do you have a pre-planned protocol for warm ups, is that protocol the same for every event you do?
Having been lucky enough to see the TdF riders warming up for the team TT a few years ago it was very evident that the pros consider the warm up both physically and psychologically essential. Every rider from a particular team warmed up at the same time, following a laid down structure. Incidentally the Discovery Team went on to record the fastest ever TTT that day, quite a spectacle.
A thorough warm up is vital to you hitting your event fully prepared. You need to have a heart that’s ready to pump blood, muscles and joints ready to accept it, and a nervous system in tune with both muscle and reflex responses ready to turn it all into speed. What’s more you’ll need to get your brain in to gear, particularly for a time trial.
Regarding hydration, for anything up to 25 miles I’d suggest that you don’t need to drink if you are properly hydrated beforehand. Sip at an energy drink during the warm-up to ensure your body is ‘charged’ for the effort ahead.
I’d advocate doing your warm up on a turbo rather than the road (you’ll never miss the start, hopefully won’t flat, you can time your warm up much closer to your own start time. Rollers would do but only if you are happy riding them in an aero position.
In the TT you are going to be riding at or near threshold for the duration of the event, we must prepare your body for that effort level.
How to Warm Up
Here is a basic warm up protocol, if you don’t have a system of your own why not try it, feel free to modify it if you need to:
- Easy spinning, gradually warming the muscles and joints – inner chain ring. Start to visualise the route. – 20 minutes.
- Very gradually increasing intensity every minute to about 70% of your TT HR/FTP – large chain ring – 5mins.
- 1 min – inner chain ring – easy spin
- 1 min – large chain ring – steady effort (should feel warm by now with legs and lungs ready for the last part).
The final aspect of the warm up is 10 minutes of incrementally increasing effort, the final minute being completed at race intensity.
- Fit your race wheels, after having checked their pressure and the tyres for damage, of course.
- The smaller the time gap between the end of your warm up and your start time the better, obviously.
- Go and grab that PB you’ve been chasing
Warming Up On The Road
Now I appreciate that some riders may feel that this is an awfully long warm up for what may be a ‘10’ but consider what you are asking of your body. If you do think you can’t spare that amount of time or if you’d rather warm up on the road then follow the general protocol:
- Easy warm up to wake your heart, lungs and muscles.
- Steadily increase of effort to around 70% of perceived effort/HR/FTP.
- A couple of efforts at race pace with long recovery.
- Finally, a decent period of steadily increasing effort, culminating at race intensity.
I’ve left any timings off the alternative schedule, it’s for you to look at the initial proposal and allocate suitable durations given the time you have available.
To turn the time trial into a triathlon specific training session, pack away your bike and put your trainers on, it’s time to finish the brick session…
Best of luck.
You can find Chris’ coaching site VerinesVelo here