Last year before Ironman Australia I wrote the below. I have made some revisions but I believe the warming up is paramount to the success of your day.

Read on below to find out the how’s and whys’ of getting warmed up properly.

I find it pretty interesting that athletes and coaches question a warm up when it comes to racing or completing an Ironman distance race.

The usual throwaway response is; “I don’t want to tire myself out. I have a long day ahead and I’ll just use the swim as my warm up.”

Sure there are the few athletes at the back of the back that wade into the water after the cannon has gone. But the majority are going to be going at a minimum of moderate intensity out of the blocks … but reality is the intensity will be pushing towards hard.

How often in training would you go hard from the moment you hit start on your watch?

If your body is cold. And then your ‘fighting’ for space in the ironman washing machine that is the swim start. You are going to feel very lethargic. You’ll be more anxious then you should be. You will use up a shit load of energy that would be much more use to you later on.

The principles

Lets look at what a warm up does. This is basic 101 stuff peoples.

– Boosts heart rate, increases blood flow and oxygen flow and core temperature.

– Done correctly it will switch on your nervous system so you’ll be dialed in both physically and mentally for the race.

– The quicker you want to go or the more intense the race the deeper the warm up needs to be.

– It takes about 10 minutes for the body to release enzymes needed to use fat as a fuel source and we definitely need to be using FAT as a fuel source in endurance racing.

– A warm up will increase your performance. Period.

What should your Ironman race morning look like?

IF you’re going to have breakfast … shock horror – who in there right mind wouldn’t have breakfast? If you’re used to not eating before your morning sessions and you have been super diligent with your 30min post session recovery window. Your muscle and liver glycogen are FULLY stocked. So you don’t need food for energy… you only need it to kill the potential hunger pangs. That’s it. (further discussion for another time).

IF you’re going to have breakfast, then you should be eating it three plus hours before the start. Then comes the logistics parts. So racing in Melbourne, you may be staying in St Kilda, so once you’re up, you need to stay up and get moving. If you’re in Frankston then you could potentially get some more zzzz’s if your mind is not buzzing with ‘it’s race day’.

Next up;

Have a shower – It makes you feel awesome and helps wake you up fully. Then get ready – put on your race kit, timing chip (before you leave your accommodation). I tend to overdress a little to ensure I keep warm (not needed if your in a hot and humid environment like Kona for instance).

Do some quick soft tissue work with the TP Therapy Performance Tools or a foam roller. This kick starts the warm up process by waking up your muscles, lightly kneading out and knots or adhesion’s, opening up the neurological pathways and recreating some lost elasticity. It gets you moving freely through those mobility centric joints (ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulders).

Get to transition EARLY for the simple fact there are less people lining up, you can get in and get out quickly and go about your full preparation and get mentally and soon to be physically prepared.

Once out of T1, have a quick toilet stop and then head out for a light warm up jog. I’ll typically add in a few easy accelerations towards the end to get the heart rate up a little (nothing hard here). This jog will be around 10 minutes.

After the jog I’ll do some movement preparation exercises which will further my warm up and get my body ready physically and also gives you time to focus mentally on your race and the ability to visualise your day.

Then it’s time for a last toilet pit stop before getting into wetsuit or swim skin. Depending on where you’re going to start and how competitive you’re will determine your swim warm up. For me I am always going to be starting pretty much front line so I am going to get in at least 6′ minutes of swimming but preferably 10′ all up for a swim warm up.

I’ll get in and swim a nice relaxed 100-200m really feeling the water and focusing on breathing, then I’ll do a bunch of strokes where I’ll focus on a good catch and strong and powerful pull alternated with some easy swimming. I’ll do some kicking and then a few deep water starts and some ‘water polo’ head out of water swimming. All this will get me ready to GO. If I have to get back out of the water, I’ll aim to keep warm by continually moving around.

I would recommend the above warm up unless your starting at the very back. If your starting at the back, get in and do a few minutes worth of swimming to get the blood flowing properly and you mind in the game. Then stay warm.

All in all it’s just about being prepared and that means getting your body’s systems ready for what your about to ask of them. While I’m going through these race morning warm up rituals, I also run through my race day visualisation and get my head into race mode.

I know, right here and now that I am exactly where I want to be. I’m grateful of being able to do this.

There you go. Get warmed up, get ready to race and you’ll have a great day out there.

Kristian “showing you the ropes” Manietta