Ask Hunter


PCG Coach Sarah Wangerin asks Hunter about a pre-race, event-warm-up routine for one of her athletes. (Note: Sarah’s athlete would take 2nd Overall Elite Female in Custer’s Last Stand MTB Race in Ft. Custer, IN)


Hi Hunter! My athlete Kristin M. (she is the one who won her Xterra Race back in August) just signed up to do an 18-mile MTB race this Saturday.   She has ridden this course a handful of times, so she knows the general flow of it.  I believe she will be at the race location the day before, so I know she will have a chance to test ride it to see its current state.

What is a good “go-to” for the kind of ride an athlete should do???


Two days before the race:  Most important rest day.  So either completely off the bike or 1 hour super easy, no more than 15 TSS.

Day before event day:  She needs to tune-up to “open” up the legs and the lungs.  So, this means that she needs to get her HR up for at least 5minutes and also do a couple of hard intervals (short though) to create some lactate in the legs and make them “FAT”(tight/contracted)  let them release (relax/supple) a couple of times, so that they are ready for the race the next day.  This will make them more responsive on Saturday. 

The morning of the race (i.e. warm up): Fast pedaling drills to move the blood and get HR up without using much energy.  Slow ramp to bring HR up, and then a “shocker” at the end to get your athlete to cross from the parasympathetic to sympathetic nervous system.

Sarah Wangerin is a USA Cycling Level 3 Coach and a USAT Level 1 Coach. She has coached athletes to National titles, Worlds Qualifications, Overall race wins, multiple successful Ironman race finishes (including first timers), and PR’s at all distances of triathlon, working with athletes at every level, from beginner to semi-pro.

Hunter Allen is a is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” and “Cutting-Edge Cycling,” co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes.