All training sessions and events should be preceded by a warm up period in order to prepare the body for the effort to come.
If you are in the habit of heading straight out the door at full pelt, up the steepest hill in the first 10 minutes, not only will there be a sudden huge strain on your heart but also an increased risk of muscular injury.
The heart, mind and muscles all need a chance to prepare themselves gradually for the upcoming event.
Warming up will:
• prevent a rapid increase in blood pressure.
• bring oxygen to the working muscles
• increase muscle temperature. This makes them more pliable and less likely to
• improve blood flow to the heart.
• help mental preparation.
Although cycling is predominantly a lower limb activity, don’t forget about warming up the arms and neck. Shoulder shrugging, arm circling and neck and arm stretches are useful to prevent tightness developing around this area during your ride. These can be done just before you leave the house.
The rest of your warm up should consist of continuous light-effort cycling for 5-10 minutes on the flat or a gradual incline. This should be sufficient to raise the body temperature so that your legs start to feel warm. On cold days, your warm up period may need to be a little longer. Only once you feel warmed up should you cycle at a high intensity.
On marathon day, Regular MTBers and experienced riders should aim for a light 5 minute cycle before you head for the start line. This is excellent for calming pre- event nerves and warming up your muscles a little. Whilst waiting on the start line try to keep warm with some stretching or gentle jogging on the spot.
Those new to MTB are better to use the first 10 minutes of the marathon as a warm up. A word of warning though – don’t get caught up in the frenzy of a mass start. It is all too easy to hammer off when the gun goes and attempt to stay with the riders around you – hardly a gentle warm up and you’ll suffer for it later.