Aug 27 2010

Stretching for Recovery

I see a lot of reports on the news that say Americans don’t do enough this or do too much of this.  For the most part, if you are training and eating right, most of these studies don’t apply to you.  However, one thing that many people, including racers do not do is stretch.  A lot of people, myself included, need to stretch every day; not only when you get up, but before and after workouts.  I am not saying to do yoga every day, but taking a few minutes will make a big difference on the track.

There are a few categories of stretching, but the 3 main ones are static, dynamic and ballistic.  Static stretching is your typical gym class warm up.  These last about 30 seconds or so and are held in position.  For example, toe touches and holding your arm across you chest would be considered static.  Dynamic stretching is done in a circular motion.  This is perfect for shoulders, ankles and any joints with a large degree of motion.  The final category is ballistic.  This should be done after some sort of warm up because this incorporates bouncing.  Doing ballistic stretching first thing may do more harm than good as you may tear and pull something.

Obviously, the whole idea behind stretching is injury prevention.  Whenever you watch a football game, both teams warm up and stretch before the game and again at the beginning of the half.  Even if you take a 15 or 20 minute break, it is a good idea to stretch before each of your motos.  In the morning, I will get the bikes out, get my pants and jersey on, and then proceed to do some static stretching.  You really want to hit all of the major muscle groups such as your legs, back, chest and shoulders.  Then you can do some jumping jacks or push ups to get the blood flowing.  If it a little chilly, it may be in your best interest to throw in some ballistic stretching.

As I said before, if you have taken a break between your motos, you really should do some sort of stretching to loosen up your joints and muscles.  Finding sore or tense spots and loosening them up will help with recovery.  You will increase the blood flow to get extra oxygen to help rebuild yourself.  That is why you cool down and stretch after every workout; whether it is a cardio or strength session.  I guarantee that incorporating this into your program will help with recovery and your overall training program.

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Aug 16 2010

Artificial Sweeteners: More harm than good?

I was browsing YouTube the other day and came across some interesting videos.  The topic of these videos were artificial sweeteners.  America is obsessed with counting calories and crazy diets, so it is no wonder why people love the zero calorie sweeteners.  The motocross community is basically fueled by (both financially and sometimes physically) energy drink companies that contain these ingredients.  There has been a lot of debate as to whether Sucrose, Saccharin, Aspartame, etc. is safe to consume.

Growing up, I never really ate Splenda or other artificial sweeteners.  However, if you really look at ingredient labels on many beverages and foods, they almost always contain some form of these “sugars.”  Why should this concern racers?  As I said before, energy drinks like Rockstar, Red Bull, and Monster all have low carb versions.  However, these all contain the artificial sweeteners even though they say “zero sugar”.  Not only that, but protein powders and some recovery drinks contain these as well.

So, what makes these so bad?  Technically, there has been no solid research to confirm anything bad.  However, testing has been done on animals and it revealed a linked between Sucrose (a.k.a. Splenda) and organ damage.  Almost every one of these is supposedly carcinogenic (causes cancer).  Nutra Sweet and Equal have been known to cause dizziness, upset stomach, and headaches as well.

In addition to these claims, it has also said to increase weight gain.  According to a study done by Purdue University, rats that were on diets containing the artificial sweetener saccharine gained more weight than rats given natural sugar.  Scientist think that there is a link between the sweet tastes and your brain.  When you taste sweet food and there are no calories, your brain gets mix matched with this and can cause you to over eat.

I am not saying this means you need to become a vegan and go all natural.  However, if it were up to me, I would take real sugar over artificial.  I know these claims have not been proven 100%, but genetically modified substances aren’t something I want to put in my body all of the time.  Just keep it in moderation.

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Aug 10 2010

Post Loretta’s – Recovery Week

After a week of scorching temperatures, the 29th annual Loretta Lynn’s are in the books.  It was quite a week with Copper Webb shining in the Supermini class over Adam Cianciarulo and Jason Anderson winning the Horizon Award.  As it comes to a close and another class graduates from the amateur ranks, this week is a time of relaxation.  The travel, the heat, the racing, and every other activity that is associated with this championship take a heavy toll on the body; both physically and mentally.

The weeks of preparation for this race adds extra load to the body.  Hopefully, you were able to peak and perform at your highest level.  After training and riding so hard, this week really should be used as recovery time.  The heat index was over a 100o daily and the physical toll on the body in this weather can carry over into this week.  Light cardio with your heart rate in the 70% range will help you get the blood flowing, accustomed to your regular climate and pump oxygen/nutrients to your body.  About an hour’s worth of road biking or similar cardio twice this week will be good.

As far as mentally, the strain and pressure put on you can carry over to the physical aspect of your training as well.  Take this week to have fun on your dirt bike.  If you don’t want to even look at the bikes, don’t do it.  Constant bombardment of riding and training can burn you out.  It happens all the time.  Kids put so much into their racing program and they get sick and tired of it.  The dream of turning pro becomes a more of hassle and slowing it becomes pointless.  So remember why you want to race and just chill.

If you do decide to ride, keep it light and under 20 minute motos.  There’s no sense in trying to bust out long motos when you just went balls to the wall in hellish temperatures last week.  If you felt like you need to work on corners or some kind of technique, just focus on that part for the week and keep it simple.  Like I said before, just have fun and enjoy the seat time.

If you made it to Loretta Lynn’s, congratulations.  Even if you didn’t do well, you still beat out thousands of hopefuls to earn a spot on the gate.  To sum this up, take this week to recoup, recover and get ready to get back into the groove of training next week.  Now that most of amateur season is coming to a close, you can start looking forward to the off season and building your strength.

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Aug 02 2010

Overcoming Defeat

Loretta Lynn’s is here.  The excitement and intensity of the week are something that every amateur racer looks forward to.  However, out of the countless hopefuls, only a select few make it to the big show.  If you have made it to Tennessee, then congratulations and if you haven’t, there is nothing to worry about.  Maybe you had a bad moto or mechanical issue with your bike, but it is something that happens to everyone.  If you are feeling bummed about missing the event, do not dwell on this feeling because it will only drag you down.  And that will lead to more lackluster results.

Confidence is everything in the world of motocross.  They always say once you have gotten your first win, the rest are much easier.  Look at Ricky (the G.O.A.T.)  When he moved up to the 250 class after decimating the 125’s, he had a bumpy start.  Much like JS7 did when he made the move up, there were crashes and difficulties.  Now I am absolutely positive that Ricky was extremely frustrated.  He is a racer and he expects to win every race.  Do you think he dwelled on his bad races when he moved up?  Not at all.

He overcame defeat and took Jeremy McGrath down.  Every racer experiences this feeling of losing.  It is a terrible feeling to have after giving your all in the gym and on the track.  However, constantly thinking about your defeats will lead you astray from your way to confidence.  Once defeat sinks into your mind, you tend to over think your riding and doubt yourself.  You know how to ride a motorcycle, what more do you need to know?  Nothing.

After getting bucked around on the 250, Ricky put his head down and pushed through it.  His hard work paid off and he began riding like he really should have.  You don’t have to dominate your next race to get your confidence back.  Maybe you just feel really good or your laptimes are better than you thought.  All it takes is one event to trigger that little spark.  You then build up from there and don’t look back.

If you didn’t make it to Loretta Lynn’s, don’t fret.  There is always next year.  Learning from your mistakes is certainly the hard way, but if you overcome those past mishaps, it will make you a stronger rider.  Like I said before, if you didn’t do well in your qualifiers, it happens to everyone and it is not the end of the world.  Concentrate on moving ahead with your program and look forward to next year.  As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

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