Over the last 33 years of working with elite racers, I have noticed there are six specific habits that run consistently through all of these riders. Not only do these habits create both speed and endurance on the track, they are easy for any rider or racer to implement on a regular basis.
Manage Your Schedule
You can’t manage time, only yourself. Time keeps ticking no matter what you choose to do with the 24 hours that are in a day. To get the most out of a day, avoid being rushed. If you are short on time getting to the track, unloading, getting geared up and then trying to ride, you will inevitably skip your warm up because you are short on time. If you cut your warm up short, the quality of your riding session will be negatively affected (notice how you feel better at the end of a moto than in the beginning? This is because you are finally warmed up). If you are tight on time, you will skip (or at least delay) eating after your session which results in a delay in your recovery process (leaving you sore and tired). You can see how this daily problem becomes a bigger ripple as the week transpires resulting in less than optimum results.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep allows the body the opportunity to “absorb” the workloads completed on a daily basis. If you don’t fully recover from each workout, you drive yourself into a mode of overtraining with negative performance results. Strive to get 8 – 9 hours of sleep a day. If you are getting less than this, look at your overall weekly schedule and make it a priority to sleep – you will be amazed at what happens to your performance results.
Don’t Over Train
Many riders believe that the professionals train all day every day when in fact the opposite is true; ironically, many amateur racers ride and cross train more hours per week than the professionals! It has been my experience that the most successful riders train for 60-90 minutes in the morning (2 hours after breakfast) and then again in the afternoon for 45-60 minutes after a 2-3 hour nap and high quality snack or smoothie. The reason for this pattern is to allow the body to absorb and recover from each workout. Keep in mind that a rider doesn’t become faster by riding and cross training, but rather from eating and sleeping (see above).
Eat Every Two Hours
To help keep our rider’s body fat levels low and their strength to weight ratios high, I have my riders eat one piece of fruit, a sliced vegetable (the darker green the better) and a lean source of protein (2-4 ounces) every two hours. By eating every two hours, the rider’s blood sugar levels remain constant which helps manage hunger levels. Low hunger levels result in less food being consumed before the feeling of being full is achieved. Two additional benefits to eating every two hours with fresh fruits and vegetables are that the rider becomes pre-hydrated with water and they receive a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the production of energy.
Eat Plenty of Fat and Protein
Fat and protein are the ONLY food items that actually satisfy your hunger. Healthy fat (avocadoes, salmon, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil) is necessary for optimal health and performance. Protein (specifically amino acids) is necessary to rebuild your muscles after you tear them down during your riding and cross training sessions. The body that you have today is a result of what you have consumed over the last six months because it takes this long to completely rebuild your body; if you want to have less body fat and more muscle in six months, start today
Receive Massage & Stretch Regularly
Simply put, as muscles are used for physical movement, they become progressively tighter. As the muscles tighten, they shorten which puts strain on the attachments at each end of the muscle (origin and insertion). If the muscles become too tight, they develop a condition referred to as a trigger point. To illustrate what a trigger point is, put your finger tips into the muscles in your shoulders (between the base of your neck and the end of your shoulder). Push each finger tip down into the muscles and act as if you are playing the piano. You will inevitably find a couple of “hot spots”, this is a trigger point. To help get the trigger point to release and decrease the tension on the muscle’s attachment, keep direct pressure on the center of the trigger point and breathe deep; within 5-10 seconds you will notice the level of tension becoming less. By receiving a massage on a regular basis (as often as once a week) keeps the muscles from becoming overly tight. As the tension in the muscle is reduced, the range of motion of the muscles (primary and secondary) improves which results in higher levels of strength and endurance. In addition to massage, top riders know how to properly isolate and stretch muscles. For optimum stretching results, stretch muscles ONLY after they have been warmed up with low intensity movement (ideally sport specific) for 10-15 minutes. The low intensity movement allows the blood to be diverted from the spine, organs and glands and into the various muscles in the arms and legs. Once the temperature within the muscle reaches an optimum level (as evident by sweat on your arms and face), stop and stretch (refrain from bouncing) the isolated target muscle; hold the stretch for 4-6 seconds while focusing on your breathing. For some riding specific stretches to reduce improve your range of motion and reduce your risk of injury, please visit my Youtube Channel.