Nov 29 2010

Making a come back

This year, Thanksgiving was pretty great.  I had my 21st birthday, ate a ton of turkey and more importantly, went riding after a long hiatus.  My first moto was pretty standard: first lap gets the bike nice and warm, looked over the jumps, and got a feel for the dirt that day.  After a few laps of getting used to the new track layout, I threw down a few sprint laps.  That whole time, I was grinning ear to ear and it reminded me why this sport is the greatest in the world.

I try to stay in good shape when I can’t ride, but there is no better training than seat time.  As the day went on, braking bumps developed and the turns were getting chewed up.  My fitness off the track was pretty good, but riding was kicking my ass.  I learned very quickly that you can run as long as you want and rep out as much as you can, but if you are not riding regularly, you simply will not be in the right condition.  I am definitely feeling my riding muscles were put to use as I am pretty sore today.

Another thing that was interesting was that my timing was a bit off.  Setting up for corners was sometimes a little awkward and I occasionally over shot jumps.  Nothing too “goonish”, but nonetheless, it was the little things that were frustrating because I knew I was better than that.  Anyone who has had a major lay off or injury knows what I am talking about.  You know you can ride better, but you just can’t seem to put it together.  This plays with you mentally and you end up trying to push harder, putting yourself more at risk for another injury.

For the most part, I tried to play it safe and just enjoy the day.  After all, I was on the bike and I shook the rust of pretty quickly.  However, coming back after a long hiatus is challenging.  Getting back into riding shape takes time and requires you to be patient.  You have to remind yourself that it will take some time get back into your normal rhythm and it will come back.  It is better to take it slow than try to go wide open just to get hurt again.  Just remember that it is for fun and be thankful you are riding again!

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Nov 26 2010

Diet 911: Surviving the Holidays

The holidays are officially here.  Thanksgiving has past already and now we have Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years right around the corner.  These times are usually filled with pigskin, family, and lots of food…and the occasional adult beverages.  This is also a time of binging, followed by the loosening of the belt and sleepiness.  This kind of eating has led the good ole United States as the fattest nation in the world.

If you have read any of my articles on nutrition, you know that I recommend small, consistent meals every 2 to 3 hours.  However, there are times like Thanksgiving, where it is okay to “cheat.”  Some studies have even indicated that cheating can spike your metabolism.  Yet, this cheating should not be a regular thing and has to be limited to one day.  Thanksgiving yields a massive amount of food and sweets and the one day is not going to kill your training.  If you keep pounding pumpkin pie like it’s going out of style, then it will.

If you have been training and eating well, then why not treat yourself?  Add to the fact that if you relax and let loose for a day, you won’t be tempted to cheat more often.  The main point you need to remember is to limit this eating to one day.  It is when you extend the pie and stuffing eating over the course of the weekend is when you find yourself in trouble.  So, for the next set of Holidays, remember to limit it to one day and have fun.

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Nov 19 2010

Diversity in your Training

Like the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life.  This couldn’t be any truer for moto.  When I was younger, I would find myself going through the same routine during the week and at the track.  I guess you could say I was stuck in a rut (pun intended).  I quickly took riding for granted and was frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted and expected.  Like anything physically demanding, if you subject the body to the same stress long enough, it will adapt and overcome.  This is why periodization is so important in our sport, but you also keep things interesting and become a well rounded rider.

One thing that happens to me is that I will go to the track and just bust out moto after moto.  I would take the same lines during the same time of day at the same track.  It was a mindless process and it eventually came to the point of muscle memory.  My nervous system and body knew exactly what was coming on the track.  This eventually led to a stagnant state where I was the same speed for the longest time.  Doing motos like this is a good thing, but not all the time.  If you are struggling in one section, take some time to break the section down and hit it over and over until you have mastered it.  Another great way to switch things up is to go at a later time in the day; this is good if you can’t really get to any other tracks.  Going later in the day will leave you with a rougher track and force you to switch lines up as well as testing your endurance.

This concept of diversity is especially important in the gym.  For strength training, changing exercises and rep ranges is extremely important to ensure your body doesn’t “go through the motions.”  You might feel a burn and think you are pushing, but you will hit a plateau eventually.  Throwing in balance exercises and using different angles on exercises confuses the body which will keep your training interesting.  This goes for cardio as well.  If you have been running the same amount of intervals at the same speed for a few weeks, it is time for a change.  Try shorter intervals for more intensity.

Making changes in your training doesn’t always have to be big, drastic differences.  Sometimes it can be the subtle things that make a bigger difference.  You will keep yourself from getting burnt out and have a fresh outlook on training.  These changes can help motivate you to get to the next level or goal in your program.  When you are progressing, you are getting stronger and faster.

Nov 11 2010

Seat Bouncing

The Nationals are done and dusted.  It was certainly a crazy 250 race for the championship and it was all Dungey and the Suzuki freight train for the 450s.  However, now we are getting geared up for the 2011 Supercross season and the focus changes from all out speed to more technical, precise riding.  The style and whole way you ride the tighter Supercross tracks forces you to use a few different techniques.  One of these techniques is the seat bounce.  Perfected by McGrath, this simple method can help you leap over low speed obstacles much easier.

As with any new jumping technique, you want to start small and slow.  That is my disclaimer because this can get ugly quickly if you are not careful.  So, now that is out of the way, you want to approach the face of the jump straight and sitting down.  You want to apply a steady and smooth dose of throttle to maintain power to the rear wheel.  This ensures you have plenty of drive to help keep the front end from diving and throwing you over the bars.  To help counteract this endo process even further, you want your elbows squared up and grip with your legs as usual.  Pulling back on the bars really helps pull that front end up and keep it there when you start flight.  In addition, it is a good idea you want to continue a strong, steady dose of throttle up the face of the jump.

There are a few things to determine before you go and start seat bouncing.  First, the speed at which you hit the jump determines how far you sit forward or back on the seat.  The rule of thumb is that the faster you go, the further you want to sit up on the seat.  If you were to sit on the fender, hanging off the back of your bike, you have the shock loaded with a tremendous amount of weight.  When you hit the face of the jump, that shock compresses even more and the high speeds sling shot anything upwards.  This results the dreaded endo.

Another factor affecting the seat position is the steepness of the jump.  This combines the speed you’re going as well because as I said before, you don’t have to be wide open, hanging off the back of your bike approaching a massive double.  If it is slower and steep, you can sit further back to load the bike more.  For less steep faces, I would start out just in front of that slight dip in the seat and work your way back.  Again, this takes time to get used to, so take it slow and start small!

Here’s a great example of a textbook seat bounce by the GOAT:

Nov 03 2010

Periodization 101

Training for any sport can get difficult and motocross is no different.  With big events throughout the year and dealing with injuries makes the timing crucial to ensure you peak in correct time periods.  This is where periodization comes into play.  If you have been reading my site for a while, you have probably come across this subject and it is a huge regiment for everyone.  This process is designed to ensure you are correctly training at the right time.

So what is periodization?  It is basically comprised of cycles. In each cycle, you train differently and build upon each one to optimize you for your particular sport.  Each cycle can be broken down into a few weeks or even a few months.  It all depends of the type of event and person.  For most, 4 to 6 weeks is a sufficient time period to stress the body and move on to the next cycle. In moto, you have 3 to 4 cycles.  You have the off season, pre season/ pre competitive, and competitive.

For the most part, your off season is when you are in active recovery.  You are riding more than any kind of training and this is the time to work on technique or drop those lap times.  I combined the next two because they are somewhat doing similar things in that you should be concentrating on your longer aerobic base and start your strength training program.  As you get closer to race time, you taper off your strength program and throw in some interval training.  Finally, you begin interval cardio to simulate motos.  Don’t forget that this period requires more rest because of the higher intensity of the training and racing.

Another important part of periodization is to work towards a specific goal.  If you have a set of races that you are attending, plan ahead of time and set out 3 goals for each cycle.  Make them achievable and write it down so you can see it every day.  If you just say “I want to get ready for these races” and don’t set a plan out, you are just wandering to the date of the first race.  So write down realistic goals and stick to it.  Commit to each cycle and by the next race, you can have the confidence of knowing you are in better shape than anyone on the line.  And we all know how big a part confidence plays in our sport.

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