Openers & Priming Workouts, Prior to Race Day

Recommended 24 hours prior to your event, to prepare physiologically (body) as well as psychologically (mind).
(aka Opener, Primer)


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  • Use to precede any Endurance events.

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  • Nate’s pick: “It’s probably too much but I’ve been doing Sleeping Beauty before my C races.”

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  • Coach Jonathan’s pick: “I usually extend the warm-up by about 10-15 minutes, and then proceed with caution, making sure I am not overdoing it. It’s a great simulation of race efforts!”
    • Basin -5 = 30 minutes, 0.92 Intensity, (plus 10-15 minutes additional warm-up),

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See the following thread for Warmups (Warm-Ups) for the actual race day:

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It’s probably too much but I’ve been doing Sleeping Beauty before my C races.

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I’ve been using Carrigain before cross races. For me, it’s a good combo of a few above threshold intervals mixed with a few short stomps. I think this workout was mentioned on one of the podcasts as a decent opener workout as well.

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I really like Basin -5 as an opener. I usually extend the warmup by about 10-15 minutes, and then proceed with caution, making sure I am not overdoing it. It’s a great simulation of race efforts!

The Ramp Test is a great option for a race day warmup. It seems best if you simply take it to a step or two above threshold then revert to some easy spinning.

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It all depends on the category of the race. If it’s an A priority race, then the session the day before will be part of a well thought out peak and taper. If that’s the case, it’s usually something like Scott Peak for me. I’d do somethink like Truuli two days before.

Basin-5 looks like a good pre-day opener. Thanks. I would precede it during the warmup you mention with a cadence ladder progression (85-125: start at 85, 1min each, add 5rpm each min).
[Note: I have built snippets for 1min, 30sec and 15sec ladders that I use for various purposes in workouts; so it would be easy to grab the 1min snippet and add it to B-5 in Workout Creator]

On the day of the event, for a 90min hill TT, A race, I used the Team Sky warmup described in the linked article. The modification I did is that during the warmup, is that I inserted the same cadence ladder mentioned above. The results were a PR by 5minutes and 10mins ahead of target so I will use it again in this year’s race.
btw: There is a good interview with Team Sky’s former performance coach, Shaun Stephens, in the article.
https://cycletechreview.com/2014/features/team-sky-warm-up/

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I also did the sky warmup all of last crit season it worked great. Easy enough to not burn matches but it primes all the energy systems to go hard from the gun. I used to think i needed 45 mins of warmup until i did the aforementioned routine.

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That was exactly my concern. So I actually executed the sky protocol before a PR attempt on a hill climb (prepped like a B race) and had a P/1 racer pace me up the hill (he was doing endurance/tempo while I was at threshold :smile:). The protocol worked so well that I used it in the 90 min hill climb race I mentioned and am planning to do so going forward.

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My custom version. Should be available to search I think.

That is a loooooog opener.

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Yeah. Unless it is a recovery ride I always push time to 1.5 hrs preferably 2 if I’m outside. It has really helped my fitness.

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This past season I started doing a 60 min or so trail ride on my xc bike the night before my races and I noticed I felt pretty damn good for my races. We’re talking 10-12 mile loop with some ups and downs to get the legs/heart going with a 5-8min climb here and there, and a fun descent. So, some tempo, some pretty hard short efforts, and long descents. It was great.
I’ve done the zwift openers ride as my go to because I couldn’t find anything on TR at the time. But the mtb ride felt the best.

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I think this is one of those “it depends” questions. I do openers and warm ups so just thinking out loud.

Are openers (day prior) and warm ups (day of) do the same thing? If so, why do openers? I mean they both open up smooth muscle vasculature, get you ready mentally for the appropriate effort. Openers are generally so small in TSS they don’t really facilitate any adaptation and are designed to not add much fatigue wise so you can race to your strengths. Why not just take the day off rather than do openers?

I tried finding podcast and blog posts.

Warmups are about preparing the body (muscles, cadio, blood, etc.) for an effort in the very near future. Head space comes into it too, but I think the body is the emphasis in this effort.

Openers, I can’t find a link, but I know they discussed them on a cast. But from memory, they are more about the head space. You may be coming into an event with rest days or even a full taper. In some cases, that can lead to feeling ‘flat’ and not able to match hard physical and mental efforts. An opener can remind yourself (mind & body) what to expect the following day.

As with any training choice, these tools work for some people, and not for others. So it pays to experiment and find what suits your needs.

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What are your thoughts on doing a ramp test as an opener the day before a B or C race? I just finished SSB2MV and have a rest week before 2 days of racing (a hard RR and tough Crit) I don’t think testing the Tuesday after the weekend of racing will yield great results.

As you mentioned openers are partially about reminding your body and mind what it’s like to go hard without destroying you. This seems like an apt description of the ramp test.

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I think the Ramp could work for an opener. For sure, cut it down a step or two after hitting FTP, as I don’t think you want or need to go to failure. It might help to add a sprint as well, if you will have that type of effort.

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I just did Karakoram as a pre-ramp day opener. Will see tomorrow if it helped.

What type and duration of race?

Good luck and have fun!

RAMP…not race, unfortunately.

Luck yes, fun…forecast says 0% chance.

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Doh! My bad. Yeah, no fun to be had there.