Hello I am a 53 year old skier - Wave 1 at the Birkie, 10 under my belt plus multiple other marathons, inline marathons and mountain bike races, too. It always seems to take 45 minutes to feel really good in a ski race, at which point I speed up and feel like my metabolism is really clicking.
I was a competetive Powerlifter in the 80's, and wonder if my fast twitch muscle training in that era is in some way causing me to be so slow to get going. Anything you would suggest to speed this process so I don't waste so much time getting ramped up?
I usually do a 10-15 minute warmup with some speedups before a race.
What you describe is probably not due to muscle fiber type, more likely it is related to simple physiological function. The goal of the warm-up needs to be to bring your physiological function up to 100% of your Vo2max. If you don't do this, you will start the race at a higher anaerobic energy requirement and it will take time for the body to deal with the anaerobic effort and to bring the aerobic energy system up to full functioning. Plus, the associated lactate accumulation will take time to clear and may well impact the balance of your race.
The following is what I have use myself and recommend to athletes I coach as a guide for a good warm up.
Race Day Warm Up
The goal of the race is to ravel the course, from start to finish as fast as possible. To accomplish this there is a specific process we must follow.
A minimum of 45 minutes must be planned for the warm-up. Skiers with a large base of volume training may want to use as much as an hour. I recommend the following warm up to our skiers and each skier will use this model and adjust it to fit their personal needs.
10 Minutes Easy Level 1-Very easy skiing, let the body come alive slowly.
20 Minutes Steady Level 2-Steady, relaxed skiing .
10 Minutes Hard Level 3-Medium Hard-Close to Race Pace.
5 Minutes Variety-30 on/off to complete the warm-up of the maximum physiological capacity
The warm up should be completed five to ten minutes before your race start time. Time enough to make final wax adjustments; finish the warm-up if possible on the first kilometer of the race course so you can become familiar with how you want to start your race. The goal of the warm-up is to slowly bring the body and your physiological capacity up to racing levels. This will enable you to reach a higher physiological capacity in your race sooner without excessive negative effects. Beginning the race cold or without some hard skiing will not bring the body to a race ready state, and your body will be going through a warm-up in the race.
A few summers ago I had the chance to visit with friend and Swedish skiing great, Thomas Wasbberg. We talked about warm-up and race strategy. Thomas was and is an exceptionally talented athlete who did not shy away from hard work. He told me a story about a warm-up prior to the 1995 World Championships in Obersdorf. In the morning before the race he went to the track early and skied a medium hard 15 kilometers. Went back to the hotel had a bite to eat and changed clothes. Then went back to the track did a normal warm-up and won a gold medal.
Thomas feels, and I agree, that many skiers rest too much. It is proven that we begin to loose aerobic fitness very quickly with reduced volume, albeit at a very slow rate. He also felt that what worked best for him was to be rested three or four days before the race and then train normally, maybe even with a fairly long ski in the day or two before the race.
Galanes Sport Lab Institute jimgalanes.com/