Cracking the code on warming up for sprint races.


Hope everybody is doing well and your February is off to a great start!

I’ve had the privilege of being back in AK now for 4 weeks and have been able to put in a fantastic little training block, skiing twice a day, most days. In addition, I’ve taken part in some local racing at the Besh Cups in Fairbanks and have started my spring semester of school! After being on the road for quite some time and racing a good bit, it’s been nice to let things simmer down a bit and enjoy the fantastic snow conditions that AK has been offering.

Over the course of this season, one thing I’ve really tried to dial in is my ability to qualify for sprint heats. In the past, my qualifiers have been weak, however IF I did make it onto the quarter finals, it always seemed so much easier, and I could go with the pace. Over the past few years, the art of sprinting has been something that I’ve worked on, not really because I want to be a sprinter, but simply because I know that I haven’t been performing where I think I should. Plus, in today’s day and age, the speed and power of distance races is so high that having the ability to do well in sprints seems to translate well for distance races. That is, at least for a guy like me whose natural tendencies are more suited for distance races. Some of the things that I’ve looked at in the past have been 1. overall fitness and building power, 2. what to do the day before, 3. skiing more relaxed in the qualifier instead of trying too hard and going nowhere, etc. I’ve played with different types of warmups and had moderate success, but this year I found another method that has worked the best for me over anything I’ve tried so far.

First, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. This warmup strategy is completely catered to my individual tendencies and needs. For reference, I would say I’m more of a diesel engine. It’s important for everyone to home in on their individual strengths and weaknesses and dial into what works best. With that said, here is my latest warm up routine.

25min easy

5min L3

2min easy

3ish min L4

5min easy

3ish min L4+race pace

Put warm clothes on and get to the start within 6-7min to go.

If I can, I like to do the L3, L4 and L4+ race pace on the course to help get the feel of how the course flows, but if you can’t get on course, I’ve found that sticking to the same format ends up being similar. Essentially, my warmup gives me the equivalent of 2 qualifiers before the actual race qualifier. I do it in a way that builds in intensity so that when the actual qualifier comes, the engine is running hot and ready to rumble. I don’t want to cool down completely by allowing too much time to lapse between my warmup and start. Getting the correct timing will take some practice, but when a race is so short, you’ll be glad you’re good and ready to ski fast.

As far as what’s next? Well, it looks like it will be a promising and exciting spring! First up are the RMISA races which will be held here in Anchorage, Feb 20-24. I’m super excited to be able to have such high-quality races from the comfort of home! Here is the link to results etc:

,UAA Invitational 22/23- Kincaid Park | After that, I could potentially be heading to Europe for my first international races, then upon returning stateside, I’ll finish up the season at Super Tour Finals in Craftsbury, VT!

Until next time,

Garrett Butts