Warm up for 6 hour race

I’m doing a 6 hour mountain bike race tomorrow and need some advice regarding warm up. I feel (probably as much mental as physical) like I need a long time to warm up, and when I do not warm up well, the first hard effort of the race is really painful. But a long warm up causes two problems: (i) It burns a lot of energy that I could save for the race; and (ii) it’s super stressful trying to find a good place to warm up at most races. For tomorrow, I’m thinking about doing a minimal workout (10 minutes easy and 1 or 2 hard 30-second efforts) and then starting the race fairly easy and not worrying about going out super hard, since it’s a 6 hour race. For reference, I’m 54 years old, 151 lb, FTP of 280, and usually do an IF of .85 for my 4-hour group ride, so I can hold moderately high power for a long time. I think this slower but steady approach might work, but I’m a little afraid to try it. Thoughts? Thanks!!

Like you said, for a 6 hour race I wouldn’t do much of a warm up unless I thought I was competing for the win and that there would be attacks or a split in the group in the first 20-30 mins.

The warmup you put here sounds like a pretty decent approach. I would just make sure that the 30 seconds aren’t too hard.

I don’t know the priority of this race for you but at some point you are just going to have to experiment with warm ups to find the one that works best for you.

Warm up with a one hour swim, then cool down afterwards with a four hour run.



It depends on the start format for me. If it’s a bunch start and you have to sprint to get good position in the woods, then you may be putting out a lot of power at the beginning and for the first 20-30 minutes until it breaks up. If it’s a smaller start and prime positioning isn’t that important then I wouldn’t warm up very much.


I’ve had good results doing structured warm ups rather than just randomly riding around. You’re plan sounds good.

I agree with the stress/location comment too. Whatever pre race warm up plan I have, I always make sure to come up with one I can actually do at the venue, even if it involves convincing myself 5 minutes circling the parking lot at 60 watts just to make sure the bike works is perfect. IMHO warm ups are 80% mental and there is no reason you can’t nail that part 100% of the time.

Great advice - thanks!

In Atlanta by any chance? If so, I think the start format will prevent a big sprint, and you kind of have a warm up hill before the first tougher hill. I’m not strong enough to go hard for six hours, so I just treat the first lap like a warm up. I imagine there will be a lot of passing and positioning going on for the first few miles as fast rider in a later wave catch up with slow riders in an early wave (I’m in the latter group).

If theres gonna be something decisive in the first 20 minutes, I’d spin around and then ramp up to that intensity. But for a 100 mile TT that would take about 4h30, I’d probably spend half an hour at most spinning around easily and checking my bike works.

My warm up for a 6 hour race would be a coffee in the car with the heated seats on!

I am in Atlanta - thanks for the advice!

Lucky guess! I figure there can’t be too many 6 hour races going on tomorrow. I’m in the solo sport group starting in wave #2 - ahead of the age groupers, singlespeeders, and relay teams, so I’m expecting to see quite a few folks going by me on the left. If you see a guy on a blue pivot, give a shout!

Agreed! Super high cadence/lower resistance warmups are great just to get the blood flowing and flush anything out before that first hard effort in the race.

6 hours is roughly the duration of a half ironman. I’ve never got out of the swim not feeling I needed a warm up. If there’s a lake nearby I’d have a half hour swim and then go and line up.

Hope to see you there! I’m way back with the over 50 guys. Green kit, grey Trek, permanent look of pain on my face.

Have a great race!