Pre-Race Prep

by Reid Goble, SkiPost


One thing I have learned a lot more about this year and gotten better at is how I prepare for a ski race. Beyond the hours of training and prep you do all year long, there are a lot of small, but important things that can maximize your success for race day in the week before or even minutes before you cross the start line. If overlooked, it can mean all the time and prep you have done all year long means nothing. This is something I have especially put a lot of emphasis on this year as I felt like I was not great on it in the past. I honestly didn’t have a consistent race day warm-up routine or plan for how I was going to prep. This year with help from coaches and teammates, I have really dialed it in and have a plan for what I am going to do the week before and morning of race-day.

Before I get started on pre-race warm-up, there are a lot of other things off the skis you can do to optimize performance. In my opinion one of the most important things is sleep. Obviously, the ideal athlete would always be on top of their sleep schedule and be fully rested every day, but this just isn’t a reality with everyday stresses and things such as travel. One habit I try to very hard to do is even when I do not have any races coming up anytime soon, I still don’t let myself change my ideal sleep schedule I would use before races, such as thinking “I can stay up late for these few nights”. As we all know it is easy to throw off our schedule, making it hard to get good rest when the time comes that it is very important. The most common major disruption to my sleep is travel. I think it is smart to always expect a travel day (especially air travel) to be many hours longer than planned with potentially little to no good sleep. Although this is a bummer, I have gotten good at never being stressed about this since if you take advantage of sleeping well when you can (such as the week leading up to travel), you can afford that one bad day. This is the exact same for the night before a race. Whether it’s because you’re in a new bed, anxious for a race and just can’t sleep. The rest you have gotten leading up to that is way more important than that one night and you shouldn’t even have to worry about it on race morning! Sleep and rest are incredibly important, but never something to stress about if you are consistent and smart about.

The other major thing you can do off-skis to optimize performance is food and hydration. Beyond just eating pasta the night before a race (a skiers favorite meal), it is important, like sleep, to be fueling your body well the week before a race. It is actually proven that the meal two nights before your race is even more important, so don’t just focus on that night before meal. I also like to make sure I always eat a snack right after every workout I do as soon as possible, even if it is cheap and small (I bring a banana to almost every workout). Getting back to the night before the race, my coach Andy Newell always urges us to eat a protein loaded snack before we go to bed. His favorite is a bowl of cereal. Hydration goes along the same lines, it’s not just what you do on race day, the days before are just important.

When it comes to actually putting the skis on there are many things to consider for pre-race. As a general guideline one should do some sort of intensity workout a day or two before race day to make sure the body is awake, but what you do and when you do it can change. My preference is usually to do intensity the day before the race. For this, a standard pre race I would do is 3-4min L2/L3, then 3-4min L3, and then another 3-4min L4, with plenty of rest in-between where I fully recover. Sometimes for a variety of reasons, such as conditions and timing, I may do intervals two days before. I like to make this interval set a little longer since I’ll have an easier day between this and my race. I usually do 2x8min L3, 2x3min L4, and 5x30sec speeds, focusing on some technical parts of the course. I’ll then keep the next day easy and maybe throw in a few quick speeds. Again, this is what I like to do and everyone is different so it is good to experiment around with something like this and find what works for you.

On race morning, as you know it is super vital to get in a good warm-up. For something like a sprint race I actually do a longer warm up and get in a decent amount of L4 so I am ready to go as fast as I can for the qualifier. An example would be at least 20min easy skiing and then 5min L2/L3, 5min L3, then 2x4min L4, with full recovery in-between these sets. I try to get this done with 15min left before the start and then I’ll do some short sprints in the starting pen on my feet and fire my muscles up with things like squats, jumping, pushups, etc. For a distance race, my warm-up is very similar, but I’ll do a little more L3 (such as 2x8min L3), then some shorter L4 intervals (such as 2-3x2min). Of course, it is important to realize that race morning doesn’t always go as planned and I often must change this routine if I am running short on time or races get delayed. Another thing I always do for races is take some caffeine about 30min before the start, my favorite is Science in Sport’s isotonic caffeine gel packs.

Stay warm,


Dynamic Stretching to Prep for a Workout

Today, dynamic warm-ups are a standard routine for athletes ranging from amateurs to professionals.

What Is a Dynamic Warm-Up?

A dynamic warm-up uses stretches that are “dynamic,” meaning you are moving as you stretch. For decades, static stretching, which requires holding a stretch for 10 or more seconds while motionless, was the most popular type of warm-up for athletes.

Dynamic stretching is ideal as the core of a warm-up routine for several reasons:

  • It activates muscles you will use during your workout. For example, a lunge with a twist is a dynamic stretching exercise that engages your hips, legs, and core muscles.  Whether you are doing weighted lunges in the gym, or lunging for a soccer ball, the muscles involved have already been engaged during your warm-up.
  • Dynamic stretching improves range of motion . So if you feel like you can barely bend over to tie your shoes after a long day at work, a dynamic warm-up routine can help you feel more limber.
  • Dynamic stretches improve body awareness. If you don’t warm-up and hop into a soccer game, it may take a while for your body to perform optimally.  Moving as you stretch challenges your balance and coordination; skills that could help your performance.
  • Warming up in motion enhances muscular performance and power. Studies reveal dynamic stretching before a workout can help you lift more weight and increase overall athletic performance compared to no stretching or static stretching . If you are trying to get stronger, build more muscle, or simply perform better, a dynamic warm-up routine is likely your best bet.

The Five-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up Routine

Here’s a dynamic warm-up routine that doesn’t require any equipment, it will prep your entire body for movement, and it can be completed in just five minutes. This basic routine can be used as an effective warm-up for many different activities, from interval training sprints to a full body strength training workout.

Complete 10 reps of each exercise below for 1-2 rounds, and check out the video for tips and demonstrations of each move.


Train the Body to Warm Up More Quickly

Q: As a long-time cyclist and now an avid xc-skier, I’ve always required a good bit of a warm-up before I can really start to ‘turn it on.’ Trying to push too hard too early will usually compromise the whole outing.

Although I’m over 50 now, even back in my 20s and 30s I still felt I always needed that good warm-up period before any thought of shifting to the big ring.

It might just be the way I’m made and not much to be done about it, but is there any way to train your body to warm up more quickly? I ride and ski with a number of (younger) guys now, who all like to turn it on the moment they clear the driveway. I’d love to know not only any tips for quicker warm-ups, but any data or thoughts you might have on whether it’s even possible to train my body to require less of a warmup.

A: Let me start off with giving an explanation of what a proper warm up accomplishes and what happens when we don’t prepare appropriately. A good warm up functions as a way to ease in two primary systems of the body that are key in exercise; cardiovascular and musculoskeletal. Jumping quickly into a high intensity workload can shock these systems and end up putting them in a situation where they were under prepared and can’t react quick or fast enough to return you to steady state. With your cardiovascular system when you begin exercise, your body systems tend to lag behind the actual needs for the exercise. What this does is puts us in an oxygen debt that we need to overcome. If we start too fast, body can be put under too much debt to overcome and we are continuously working in a negative state. When we are in good shape this delay and response quickens and becomes more efficient and can return us to a homeostasis quicker. Another function that a good warm up helps with is it accesses and prepares body to be ready to utilize energy systems that we utilize during high intensity exercise. In a warm up before a work out with high intensity gradually working in some Level 3 and 4 work is a good way to prepare for longer, harder efforts.

The second system that is prepped with a good warm up is the musculoskeletal. This system deals with both our muscles and joints. Loosening and increasing range of motion (ROM) is the main focus of this systems warm up. Increasing ROM will allow more efficient production of power and can allow for more freedom in the movement chains that we need to use for correct technique. We have all felt the stiffness in our muscles and joints when we first begin a workout.

So in terms of a shorter warm up, here are some suggestions that I have for accelerating a warm up or making it more efficient.


Prior to hopping onto the bike or skis we can do some dynamic stretching and movement to get the body going. All of these things you can do in about a 5 to 10 minute time frame while you might be waiting for others to arrive or if you arrive a little bit early.

Jump Rope: Double leg and alternating leg for ~1 – 2 minutes
Jumping Jacks: 2-3 x 15 – 20
Lunges: 2 – 3 x 5 – 10 each leg
Skips: 20 – 30 meters
Carioca Drill: 20 – 30 meters both sides
Leg Swings: Lateral and frontal swings
Arm Swings: Forward and backwards full ROM


If you’re able to… here is a <20 minute progressive workout that can have you gradually increasing intensity but easing into each intensity.

10 minutes: Level 1
2 minutes: Level 2
1 minutes: Level 1
2 minutes: Level 3
1 minute: Level 1
1 minute: Level 4
1 minute Level 1

After you complete this you should be able to hop into whatever intensity you wish.

Hope this helps and good luck with training going forward.

Andy Keller
CXC Team Head Coach


Your Workout Session – Warm Up, Cool Down and Stretching

Regardless of the type of sport you choose, warm up, cool down and stretching are important to fitness improvement. Including recovery periods in your weekly schedule is crucial to fitness, as well. To maximize the benefits to your heart and safeguard against injuries, it is good to include all three of the following phases into your workout session:

1. Warm-up

2. Exercise in target heart rate zone

3. Cool-down and stretching


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A proper warm-up prior to an exercise session prepares your heart and muscles for the action that lies ahead. It stimulates blood circulation and makes muscles more flexible. It can also prevent injuries. Begin each workout slowly, giving your body a chance to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes at a heart rate below your selected target zone. Then gradually increase the intensity of your exercise until your heart rate reaches your target zone.

Whenever you exercise, be sure to stretch.

Stretch first after your warm-up, when your muscles aren’t so tight, and again after the cool-down period. Stretching for five minutes after you warm up will improve your workout and may prevent injuries.

Why? Because repetitive exercise tends to reduce muscle flexibility. Also, tissues like muscle and skin lose elasticity with age. So if you increase the intensity or duration of your workouts, maintaining muscular flexibility in your lower legs, thighs, gluteas and back will become even more important.

Without proper stretching, your range of motion will become limited, which will adversely affect e.g. your skiing technique. Tightness in the hamstrings can decrease your stride length, forcing you to expend more energy to make up the difference.

There are stretching techniques for almost every major muscle group. If you aren’t familiar with different techniques, consult any sports physiologist or coach for advice. Below are some tips to help you stretch properly no matter what technique you use.

Stretching Tips

1. Never stretch cold muscles. Be sure to warm them up before stretching.

2. Hold each stretch to give your muscle time to adapt to the stretch.

3. Never bounce in a stretching pose or force a muscle into a position that causes pain.

4. Relax and breathe deeply and slowly while holding each stretch position.

5. If you are stretching your arms, legs or sides, remember to stretch both sides.

6. Optimally complete 3–5 reps of each stretch.

7. Hold pre-workout stretches for about 10 seconds.

8. Hold post-workout stretches for up to 30 seconds.




Once your heart rate has reached your target zone, maintain that intensity for a set amount of time (typically 20 minutes or more), making sure you stay inside your target zone. It’s important to be sensitive to your body’s reactions while you exercise. Be sure to keep your breathing regular. If you feel exceptionally breathless or dizzy, you’re probably working too hard (and pushing your heart rate beyond your target zone), so ease up a little.


Cool down by gradually reducing the intensity of your exercise to bring your heart rate back down to below your target zone. Then, stretch the main muscles you just worked to prevent injury and stiffness.