Many riders and racers will reach out to me around the month of April and describe symptoms that inevitably hinder a riders speed and endurance: injuries, a plateau of speed and/or the lack of desire to ride, race and cross train. At both the amateur and professional levels, the racing season has increased to the point where the racer is competing nearly year round and actually inhibiting his or her ability to improve physically as a racer. It is unrealistic to think that a racer can be in top form every weekend from January through December. Throughout the year, the body has to be provided the opportunity to develop various energy systems through specific workouts. For long term improvement, a window of time must be provided to rest and recover from the stress loads applied to the muscles and cardiovascular system. This is where Periodization comes into a racers program. Periodizaton (breaking the year up into “seasons”) answers how hard, how long and how often a racer should train to reap the benefits of training without becoming injured, fall into a speed rut or become burned out?
PERIODIZATION: WHAT IT IS AND WHY IS IT AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF YOUR PROGRAM?
As a rider and racer, you need to look at a year as four different seasons of performance development. At MotoE, we break a year into four training “seasons”: Pre-Season, Pre-Competitive, Competitive and Off Season. Each season has a different performance objective to optimize the racers training time for maximum results.
With riding & racing encompassing so many elements, it has literally become a lifestyle – sleep, eat, ride, train off the motorcycle, repeat until the next ride or race. However, this lifestyle of training, doesn’t allow you to systematically decide to begin training seriously for four weeks out and then be ready for the season’s first big ride or race. On the other hand, hitting the open road on your road bike hard the Monday after your big ride or race and riding every day until next year’s race isn’t productive either. You don’t push the body beyond its familiar performance level and you don’t allow enough time for the body to adapt to the stress loads.
At MotoE we work with four seasons of training - each having a specific physiological purpose. The four seasons and the necessary physiological adaptations are:
Pre-Season: developing maximum aerobic capacity, muscular strength and flexibility; this is also an ideal time to work with your riding coach to help with technique and mechanics.
Pre-Competitive: continued development of your aerobic engine, final stage of maximum strength development and the implementation of slight lactate tolerance intervals.
Competitive: specialization is the main component of this season. Your anaerobic threshold and sprint training should make up the high quality workouts during the week. Also during this season is the increased need for rest – ideally one complete day of rest per week to help you recover both mentally and physically.
Off Season: this is ideally four to six weeks in duration where you deviate away from heavily structured training. This is where you’re back to riding verses training when you are on your motorcycle or any other type of cross training. You don’t want to become so inactive that you begin to lose the conditioning you have worked so hard to achieve throughout the year; you do, however, what to remain active and healthy.
PERIODIZATION: STEP ONE: ESTABLISHING GOALS
This step involves establishing long term goals and developing a plan for achieving each goal. This step needs to be quantified, simple, optimistic and also realistic. Though this sounds like an easy task, it is going to take some real brain storming to narrow this first step down and onto paper. Here is an example of an unrealistic long term goal: “I want to be fast”. There is no way to quantify fast and there is no time line established to complete it. It also doesn’t tell you who you are setting your standards against.
If you say: “I want to be the top local rider in my class by the next national” – this is quantified, specific and with a little research you are able to determine what it is going to take to surpass the current top riders to achieve the status you are looking for.
At MotoE we have our clients establish three sets of goals – 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. If you would like a copy of this MotoE Goal Profile, please email me for your personal copy. If you have established goals in past seasons and you have had trouble obtaining your goals, feel free to forward your MotoE Goal Profile to me and I will be happy to review and help you develop some training objectives to help you achieve your personal goals for the season. The most important thing to remember when you are sitting down to establish your goals is that they need to be specific and each should have a date applied. Without specific goals, you will quickly lose your motivation to stick to the homework, especially when it becomes difficult (due to either the duration or intensity levels required).
PERIODIZATION: STEP TWO: DETERMINING A STARTING POINT WITH YOUR TRAINING
If you are starting at a minimum fitness level, you will have to increase your overall strength and endurance before your dive into a comprehensive performance program. As a general rule of thumb, don’t increase your duration of your overall workouts by more than 5-8% every other week. Once you have been consistent with some level of training for six to eight weeks without any physical setbacks, it is time to determine exactly where your fitness levels are – this will identify your strengths and weaknesses and what to address with daily training to maximize your training time.
The main concept to keep in mind when it comes to training is to strengthen weaknesses which have been specifically identified through field testing. Riders and racers, like any athletes, have a tendency to complete workouts focusing only on the elements where strength already exists. For example, in the gym, you rarely see riders and racers working their legs due to the high levels of lactic acid and associated increased heart rate levels. Instead they avoid these uncomfortable exercises and complete lower intensity exercises which do not address their physical limiters. If you use riding a road bicycle as a form of cross training, and you are not a strong climber, how often do you go out and complete hill repeats to increase your strength and lactate tolerance? It is not that you are soft as an athlete; it is simply human nature to do the activities where we feel strong and confident.
With this in mind, it is imperative for riders and racers to capture three key testing data points in field testing (no matter what time of year the testing is completed): aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance. There are numerous debates about which form of training (off of the motorcycle) are the most effective measures of your aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance. At MotoE, we are more interested in testing these three variables within the training modalities that you have been using over the last six to twelve months. The important thing to keep in mind with establishing base line assessment numbers is to be consistent with your testing protocols. For example, if you use the road bike for your cardio training, it would not be a wise choice to use a running test for your lactate tolerance and aerobic capacity testing due to the different muscle groups and demands on the cardiovascular system – ultimately your testing data would be inaccurate. If you would like MotoE to provide some suggestions on how to determine your aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance given your current training methods, feel free to contact me directly (please be sure to indicate what you are currently doing in the way of training to help me determine what is most productive for you and your program).
PERIODIZATION: STEP THREE: ESTABLISHING A TRAINING PROGRAM BASED ON YOUR FIELD TESTING RESULTS
This is where a human performance specialist can be an asset to a riders and racers development program – identifying where the most progress can be achieved in the shortest amount of time. As an illustration, as it relates to riding the bike, a rider or racer gets a riding coach to help work on problem areas on the motorcycle. A rider or racer may be fast through the whoops, but if he or she cannot get in and out of the corners fast, the time gained in the whoops is immediately lost in the next corner. The same applies to developing the training protocols that are going to maximize the appropriate energy systems to enhance the elements of aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance. As mentioned earlier, at MotoE we break the year up into the four seasons of Pre-Season, Pre-Competitive, Competitive and Off Season. During each season of training there are two key elements that have to be factored into the development of a racers training program: the energy system(s) being enhanced and the order in which they are put into place within a workout. For example, implementing muscular endurance protocols prior to explosive power protocols may actually be counterproductive based on the training season (based on race goals and the physiological adaptations needed) and the field testing results – remember, we need to constantly work on your physiological weaknesses due to the fact that you are only as strong as your weakest link in your racing program.
If you would like to watch three short videos about Periodization,
FOLLOWING A CUSTOMIZED NUTRITION & TRAINING PROGRAM
For 29 years, MotoE has been creating customized and semi-customized nutrition and training programs for riders and racers specific to their riding and racing goals and based off of identified physical and mental limiters discovered through various assessments (based on your age, goals and availability of time to train). Our programs are broken down and priced based on the services requested; prices start at $100 per month. If you are interested in more information about pricing and services, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email.
Until next time, Train Smart, Not Hard!
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