Trainer Talk with....Mike Alessi
by Tim Crytser
Virtual Trainer: Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me about your training and more specifically your recent knee injury.
Mike Alessi: No problem
Well, let's start with the obvious question, your knee. Take me through what happened, how your recovery is progressing and where you stand today as far as returning to riding.
Well really, it was kind of dumb how it happened. I just over jumped this rhythm section and went into some grass and hit the brakes to slow down. When I did that I actually picked up more momentum because the grass was wet and I just went barreling into this fence post. When I hit the post it turned my handle bar real quick and hit me in the knee cap and broke it. I didn't even fall from the wreck. As soon as I hit it, I was like awwwww and fell over and was like, oh crap something is not right.
Were you wearing knee braces?
Yea for sure. If I wasn't wearing my knee brace it would have shattered my knee and been a whole lot worse. The CTi brace did its job for sure. Those guys have been great. They are out here right now building me a custom brace so I can get back on the bike.
That's a good lesson for guys who ride without knee braces.
Yea, you should never ride without braces.
What really sucks is coming into the series you were one of the favorites to win the title and then once Villopoto dropped out it was your championship to lose for sure.
The season is not over! The season has only just begun.
Awesome man. That is a great attitude! I understand you hurt your knee the Monday before High Point while practicing. It's funny because on Sunday, I was on a bike ride with my brother-in-law and a friend of his. The other guy, Ray was talking about this motocross rider he had been working with through the week. Come to find out he was talking about you and told me how you had your surgery in Morgantown and did some rehab with him at Health Works. Pretty small world!
Yea, they worked on me and did a great job.
For sure. Ray was telling me how after you were done with your therapy for the day you would workout for another couple of hours and just be killing it. He was surprised at the level of intensity you pushed yourself too.That's how I always workout. If you aren't going to workout hard then you might as well not work out at all.
So now that you are back in California, what is your plan to move forward from here and when do you think you will be back on the bike?
Well right now, I have no idea when I am going to be back on the bike but it is going to be soon. I am doing everything I can to get healthy and get back out on the track. It's just going to take some time. It's not like I sprained my wrist or something simple like that. I mean it's a broken bone and it's going to take some time.
Plus you had surgery!
Yea, that too. I mean it's strong. I have three pins and it's all wired and screwed together so that's all good. We just have to get the knee strong and have good mobility and then it will be good to go.
So did it crack you knee cap into separate pieces?
It cracked it in half and then the top half broke in half too. So there were three pieces.
Now I won't ask you the stupid question of how disappointed you are to get injured at this point, but I would like to know how are you dealing with the situation mentally and remaining positive as you move forward?
Well, it sucks for sure but it is part of racing and things like this are going to happen. It's a dangerous sport and anything can happen at any time. But like I said, ain't nothing over until it's over! It sucks but I don't look at it as a set back at all. In my mind it's a come back.
How long do the doctors think you will be out and how many races do you think you will miss?
As of right we really don't know. I mean I won't know anything until I get back on the bike.
I was talking to you dad earlier and he was telling me that you guys use a lot of different trainers for every aspect of you training. You have a strength coach, endurance coach, riding coach, swimming coach and more. Your endurance coach, Jay was telling me a little about the cycling program you use for cardio. Do you guys do anything else for cardio besides cycling?
Well, right now we are swimming since I can't ride my road bike. Other than that that's pretty much it. Sometimes I'll run but not too much because its hard on my knees and for me right now there is no way I could run.
I was talking to Greg Hammond at Concept2 the other day and he is a big fan of yours. He wanted me to ask about your unique ability to pull holeshots. He wants to know if you work specifically on eye hand coordination drills to improve your reaction times?
Yes I do. I don't want to elaborate on it and give my competitors any advantage, but yes, I work on things like that.
One of the trainers you guys use from time to time is Dr. Armpump and if you look at his site he is big into balance and martial arts. Are the techniques and practices of martial arts a big part of your training?
More so just the balance part. Balance helps me get my feet placed right on the bike.
In talking to your dad and trainer, it sounds to me like you are on a regimented and well thought out training program. Sometimes a program that intense can take the fun out of racing. Has this happened to any degree and do you like to train?
No, I love to train. I love getting up knowing that we are going to go on a two or three hour bike ride. I really look forward to it. I like that training makes me better. I like at the end of a 30-minute moto when other guys are fading I still feel strong. It's nice to know that all that hard work pays off. I love that training is good for you and keeps you strong and healthy.
When you are riding is there ever a time when you can push yourself hard enough that you get winded and tired on the bike or is your fitness level so high that you can't find the top when you are riding?
No for sure there are times when we are training that I am like, woe, woe, woe time-out, I need a break. There are definitely times when my trainer pushes me to the point where I'm like no more! But I never get to that point on the motorcycle. I never get tired when I ride.
Fitness wise what do you think the biggest difference is between yourself now and say three to five years ago?
I think it's just that I finally have it figured out. I think it takes a couple of years to figure things out and it doesn't just happen over night. It's a process and a learning experience.
How important of a role do you think strength training has to do with your overall success as a rider? It seems like since you have come into the sport you have definitely developed into a very strong and fit athlete. Do you attribute this growth to your training or just the fact that you have matured from a kid to a man?
I attribute it to training for sure. You have to have everything pieced together. It's not just the riding. It's the fitness, the strength training, and the mental focus of being able to go out there and do your job and win. There are a lot of different elements that go into doing good on the weekends. Its not just one thing; there are like 5 or 6 different elements that go into a winning program.
As one of the fastest guys in the world on a motorcycle, do you consider yourself a world class athlete?
I think I would have to say yes. I mean there aren't a lot of guys who go out and put in the amount of work that we do. A lot of the guys don't like to put in the hard work like I do. I know I am one of the athletes who goes out there and does the best that I can and works hard to get it.
Are you a good overall athlete and what other sports are you good at?
I am pretty good at BMX and I play golf every now and then. I guess I'm pretty good at it.
Your trainer Jay also said that you are a pretty good cyclist.
Yea, I just love getting on the bicycle and training. I think I could compete at a pretty high level in cycling if I wanted to. Racing bicycles and motorcycles are completely different for sure.
When you travel do you take your road bike with you and go on rides?Yes, we travel with them for sure and go for road rides wherever we are.
Well the next time you are at High Point I'd like to take you and Jay on a road ride around Morgantown called the Iron Man Loop. It's about 36 miles and has some pretty knarly hill climbs. As a matter of fact the loop goes right past High Point.
Ok, well that sounds great we'll have to do that.
What role if any does your girlfriend Danielle play in your training and now your rehab?
Oh yea she helps me out a lot for sure. Right now she is helping me all day and all night just helping me get my knee stronger so I can go out there and race. She does whatever it takes to help me get better.
What is the one thing that you have learned from a trainer that you think you were doing wrong maybe early on in your career?
Just to train with consistency.
Not many teams in motocross provide trainers for their riders. I have always thought that to operate this way is crazy. Recently, Joe Gibbs Racing has changed things up a bit by providing their riders with a trainer and requiring them to live in the same area. Do you like that idea or do you like the fact that you can do things more on your own?
I kind of like doing my own thing. I like having the freedom to choose who I want to work with. Team Suzuki and my sponsors pay me and I pay for my trainers. For me, it just works better that way.
Well Mike, thanks for your time and good luck rehabbing the knee and we all look forward to seeing you back out there battling for that championship.
Ok, sounds good. Nice talking to you man.
For more interviews as well as enhanced Podcasts, visit RacerxVT.com. Your one-stop information zone for motocross fitness and training.