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I find that the starts of races are very difficult for me because of the high initial pace. I tend to redline within the first mile and then have a hard time recovering. This has happened in MTB, road and track races. I never experience this on group or training rides since they ramp up more gradually. How can I prepare better for this? Will an extended warmup at a higher heart rate help? In training, should I sprint out the door and skip the warmup (I am only half-joking)?
 

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A good warm-up certainly helps. I haven't found a warm-up formula that was so good and foolproof that I personally would say, hey, do that, but most authorities recommend a fairly gradual extended warmup with a few two-three minute efforts, with a cool down of some five minutes or so as close as possible to the start of the race. Some of the recipes are fairly elaborate. The general rule is that the shorter the event, the hotter you should come to the line.
 

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but, if your normal workout is an hour, you shouldn't warm up hard and heavy for an hour, which is a mistake I've made. twenty-forty minutes, with a few efforts in there to let you know what's coming.
 

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Warmup is critical unless you are sure ( Ha-Ha) that the race will start out easy. If your warm up doesn,t get your heart up into zone 5, once or twice, you're asking for trouble.
 

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Suddha said:
I tend to redline within the first mile and then have a hard time recovering. This has happened in MTB, road and track races.
This is extremely common in MTB racing. Like moto-cross, the first rider to the front has a huge advantage. Everyone is red-lining it at the beginning.

Road and crit races tend to start more gradually although there is often a burst of energy at the beginning. That burst tends to subside once racers settle into a rhythm.

When reading your post, I immediately thought of this excellent Friel workout. Obviously it is targeted for MTBers but it wouldn't hurt to mix it into any routine.

A4a AE, MTB Starts
BT: Warm-up well. Then from a full stop go max effort for 1 minute before settling in at heart rate 4-5a zones for 10 minutes. Spin 15-20 minutes for recovery. Then repeat. Can be done on gentle trail or road

 

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Suddha said:
I find that the starts of races are very difficult for me because of the high initial pace. I tend to redline within the first mile and then have a hard time recovering. This has happened in MTB, road and track races. I never experience this on group or training rides since they ramp up more gradually. How can I prepare better for this? Will an extended warmup at a higher heart rate help? In training, should I sprint out the door and skip the warmup (I am only half-joking)?
How do you handle jumps, breaks, hills, sprints, etc., later in the race? If you keep up fine later in the race, then it's probably warmup. If you have a hard time no matter where it is, then it's probably your anaerobic fitness. At least that's what I'd think if it were me.

Keep in mind that *everyone* is hurting, not just you.
 

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Good advice

Fixed said:
How do you handle jumps, breaks, hills, sprints, etc., later in the race? If you keep up fine later in the race, then it's probably warmup. If you have a hard time no matter where it is, then it's probably your anaerobic fitness. At least that's what I'd think if it were me.

Keep in mind that *everyone* is hurting, not just you.
I agree, if you are OK with the pace and efforts later on, then it probably comes down to warmup. Contrary to previous posters, I find my optimal warmup for a 60 minute crit is to also warm up for about 60 minutes. Most of the riding is pretty light, but I'll do a couple of hard efforts (1-3 minutes) after I have ridden for 30-40 minutes. I am a diesel though, and it does take while for my engine to get going.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that a lot of domestic pro riders will ride in the morning for 1-2 hours on days when they have a late afternoon or evening criterium. I have done this a few times and I think there is benefit for me. If I ride for an hour in the morning I will come to life quicker later on in the day.

The worst situation I have ever raced in was a couple of years ago. I was on a new team with a lot of pressure to perform. Our "captain on the road" had this fetish with the pre-race meeting and going on and on, to the point where we would often be sitting in the van until 10 minutes before the race starts. Then out we go, ride for 5 minutes and line up. I had nothing but problems with this timeline, plus the stress that was imparted during the meeting. Even in long road races I would get into trouble if we were attacking from the gun, especially on the cold and often wet spring races. For crits, I was usually starting to feel good about the time we got the last lap bell!! The irony was that the team captain was one of those guys who hops out of the van, gets on his bike and rides 50 km/h. Eventually I learned to warm up before the meeting, and as the season went along the meetings became less intense.

In general - slow-twitch TT guys take longer to warm up than fast-twitch sprinter guys. For the OP, I would suggest testing a few different scenarios in training and try to get a feel for how long it takes you to feel "good". You might be surprised at how long it takes.
 
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