For the weekend warrior who has limited time to train, here are 5 things you can implement tomorrow to improve your racing results.
Step 1: Establishing a Weekly Routine
Take your personal calendar and schedule the following elements for the next seven days (in this specific order):
§ Hours of sleep you plan to get – daily!
§ When you are going to eat your meals and snacks
§ Hours you will be working
§ Time you will be exercising (include intensity levels)
§ When you will prep your motorcycle and you’re your transportation
§ What days you will compete
Your goal is to complete at least 75% to 80% of your scheduled elements on a weekly basis. Don't complicate things by trying to add a bunch of sophisticated elements to it. Just keep it basic and easy to follow. By focusing on all of the small elements, they add up to a very solid program. So, if you get your program moving to the next level immediately, establish a routine and stick to it!
Step 2: Establishing a Practice Routine
One of the most common mistakes we see is that riders will go to the track to practice and they just run laps without any evaluation of lap times. To make the most of your time on the track, capturing lap times will determine your consistency, along with the deviation between your fastest and slowest laps.
Practicing starts and working sections of the track is imperative to finding new found speed; however, you need to put all of the elements together to emulate actual race conditions as often as possible. As we have discussed in previous articles, what ends up happening on race day is that the body is exposed to high levels of speed and associated lactic acid that is produced as a by-product of burning glycogen. As the lactic acid accumulates within the blood, it begins to “burn” and mentally throws you off.
Depending on the nature of your track and its practice schedule, it is important to implement practice segments that include such physiological challenges such as negative split intervals, pacing intervals, pacing pyramids and sprint intervals. These types of intervals will challenge all of the various energy systems necessary to perform optimally during the race weekend. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, specific and perfect practice makes perfect.
Step 3: Consuming sufficient calories for optimum performance and maintaining proper hydration
The challenge that you have when the intensity goes up is that it drains the stored muscle and liver glycogen very quickly. So what ends up happening is by the time you get to the end of the moto, your gas tank (of glycogen) is essentially on empty. To give you a good analogy of that, it is kind of like building a very strong motor, and then just not putting sufficient gas in it to finish the moto. If you think about all of the strength training and all of the cardiovascular cross-training that you do, if you don’t give your body enough fuel, it will not have the necessary amount of energy to finish the moto strong. Many times we see late moto fatigue and heat related sickness, due to the lack of necessary calories. For you, the racer, looking to get the most out of your body you need to approach food from a functional stand point. Carbohydrates provide the necessary glycogen to your liver and muscles for exercise. Protein provides the necessary building blocks to repair torn down muscle tissue and fat provides the macro nutrient necessary for proper neurological functions and bodily needs (i.e. oil for skin and hair quality).
The second component that you can address to improve your speed is to avoid coming to the starting gate under-hydrated. Just as a rule of thumb, we are looking for around 40 to 50 ounces of water to be consumed on a daily basis - and that does not factor in the needs of what is lost in the form of sweat from exercise. To help offset this situation, you need to make sure that you are starting your day with a good eight to sixteen ounces of clear water to jump start your hydration levels. If you go to the starting line under-hydrated, let’s say by 2-3%, it won't take long before the contractile strength of your muscle tissue is adversely affected (in some instances as much as 20-30%). The key here is to determine how much weight you are losing during a race (or intense practice session) to determine what your perspiration rate is for the duration of your session. Add in your total consumption of fluids consumed during the last hour of before your moto or practice and you will get an accurate idea of how fast you lose fluids in a given environment of temperature, humidity and race intensity. This information becomes priceless in regards to preparing your body to handle the demands of high intensity racing.
Step 4: Establishing a body that is resilient to stress through fresh fruits and vegetables along with sufficient amounts of quality rest
Though this step appears to be similar to Step 3 in regards to food, it is different from the stand point that we are discussing the body’s ability to adapt to stress associated with training. When it comes to establishing a body that is resilient to stress, the two things that you need to pay attention to are:
Eating raw fresh fruits and vegetables
How much rest you are getting each evening
In regards to your fruits and vegetables, if you can afford and can find organic, this is ideal. However, at the very least, you want to lean towards raw and fresh food items whenever possible. Without getting into a dissertation about nutrition, you need to understand that there are three macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fat. You hear about them often and know what they are; however, the thing that makes them work at an optimum level is the integration of micronutrients (sourced from fresh fruits and vegetables). Whenever possible, you need be looking for a way to introduce raw and fresh fruits and vegetables (i.e. salad, vegetable & fruit salad or steamed vegetables). The bottom line is to avoid anything that comes out of a can along with trying to get as many servings throughout the day that we can without causing any gastrointestinal issues.
In regards to your sleep, you need to be striving to get eight to nine hours per evening. Please keep in mind that sleep is not how long you are lying in bed, but rather hours that you are in the state of sleep. When you get into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Pattern Three, you are at a state of relaxation where your body releases hormones that are instrumental to getting stronger.
To help facilitate quality sleep try the following:
§ Eat a small amount of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates 30 minutes before going to bed
§ Drink 8 to 10 ounces of cold water
§ Don’t watch any television in your bedroom
§ Keep the room as dark as possible
§ Set the room as cool as you are comfortable with
Remember, you don’t get stronger from your workouts, but from quality eating and sleeping! If you don’t eat and rest, your body will never elevate itself to the next level of performance.
Step 5: Improve your speed by improving your range of motion through flexibility
Within your performance program, flexibility is probably one of the most boring yet most productive uses of your “extra” time. Most racers don't like to stretch because they don't see the direct benefits associated with it. Stretching is somewhat a nebulous concept. What are the benefits of stretching as it relates to a racer?
First, by increasing your range of motion (i.e. working on your flexibility), you are working towards re-establishing your normal range of motion within each muscle group and associated joints. Let’s take a look at the shoulder for example. The shoulder is designed to have 360 degrees of range of motion. There are muscles surrounding the entire head of the shoulder joint on the front, side and back. As a racer, when you encounter a high speed get off, the impact on all of the supporting muscles is high.
As a racer, you need to be prepared for any contact with the ground (whether it's a high speed get off or whether it's a slow speed tip over), by having as close to 100% range of motion as possible. If the muscles that protect each joint are tight (hence limiting your range of motion) the impact of each fall has a much more negative effect (i.e. greater damage).
Let's take another look at your shoulder. When you fall and put your arm out in front of you, the head shoulder gets jammed back into that capsule extremely quickly. If the muscles are tight and the range of motion is limited, the net result is usually a torn muscle. If this injury isn’t handled properly, scar tissue begins to form within the capsule of the injured shoulder joint and your range of motion is further limited due to the in-elasticity of scar tissue.
Though scar tissue doesn’t sound like a big deal, as a racer it is very detrimental to your positioning on the bike due to the limited range of motion and the compromising you do with your body on the motorcycle. For example, if you've had a lower back injury, which has resulted in limited range of motion, you wont be able to keep the bike stable going through the whoop section because you're having difficulty getting into the proper attack position and the bike will swap all over the place. Another example is getting your elbows up into a corner. You may not be able to accomplish this important skill because you've got restrictions in your muscles surrounding your shoulder joint. It isn’t a lack of desire or discipline, it is a physical limiter!
By focusing on your flexibility, you will be able to get into the proper position on the bike without self induced restrictions. The better your range of motion, the better your position on the motorcycle the faster your lap times will become.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to post a question here on TT!
Yours in sport and health,