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7 Simple Tips to Find More Speed

 1: Practice Specific Race Scenarios

Set up your practice sessions to simulate a true race scenario (duration, track conditions and intensity levels). Skills associated with racing require that you are able to manage yourself and an environment around others with the ability to adapt to changes of pace, positioning and where decisions have to be made quickly. You have to learn how to get the most out of your performance environments by setting up the closest scenario possible so that you can adapt and improve both physically and mentally as a racer.

 2: Warm Up 

We all have experienced the fact that our lap times get faster as the race transpires. This is because the body is warmed up and the muscles are performing at an optimal level. The trouble is we allow the first two laps of the race to warm up our bodies which results in slower lap times early in the moto.

 3: Eat a High Quality Snack

To top off your blood sugar levels, in your muscles for movement and in your liver to feed your brain for processing, eat an easily digestible snack 10 minutes before your practice or race.  Through our research, we have determined that when a rider struggles to get up to and maintain potential speed it is directly related to food (quality & quantity).

 4: Practice Your Speed Work Early in Your Riding Session

Now that you have topped off your blood sugar levels with an easily digestible snack and jump started your metabolic engine by warming up (ideally for 20 minutes), you can now handle higher intensity levels.  The key to breaking into faster lap times is to implement your speed intervals early in the workout so that you develop both the mental and physical skills necessary to create consistent speed and eliminate late moto fatigue.

 5: Break Speed Ruts

Capture your lap times for 10 lap moto as well as a 20 lap moto. What you will find is that there is not much difference in your speed no matter how long the moto lasts. This is a perfect example of a speed rut.  In the world of human performance, the body should always be able to perform at a higher rate of speed for a shorter period of time; we refer to this as the inverse relationship between volume and intensity.

 6: Implement Fundamentals

Instead of focusing on throwing more effort into going fast, slow down and apply the appropriate skill set to maintain speed and momentum throughout every lap. The most inefficient racer is the one that bounces off the face of everything and blows through every corner – losing momentum which results in lower lap times. If you want to improve not only your overall speed but also your endurance, focus on applying the skills developed through your riding coach that include the utilization of your break, clutch, throttle and body position.

 7: Film

Every factory team films, why aren’t you?  If there is a section that you can’t figure out, film the riders that did.  This is helpful prior to heading out for your first practice – what is the fastest approach to a section, body position, etc.. Duplicate what others are doing to get through the section fast on your first lap verses taking four laps to get up to full speed.  Most everyone has a smart phone these days with a pretty good camera, so use it! Keep in mind that the brain learns in many ways, watching and implementing are two of the most powerful to increasing your speed!

How to Find New Levels of Speed on the Track

There are many different ways to train, depending on who you listen to.  Though each approach is designed to improve a distinct function, there is always some overlap.  The two ends of the spectrum are aerobic to anaerobic and here we will discuss the five elements that fill up the middle of this spectrum.  The key to ultimate success in racing is to combine all of the following elements into your training so that you will be able to compete closer to your anaerobic threshold for a longer period of time without fading.

Explosive Speed

This high energy training is designed to develop power and the ability to throw in bursts of speed when necessary (i.e. to bridge to a rider in front of you or after you go down and need to restart your bike) and to finish a race strong.  The duration of these intervals is usually between 15 and 30 seconds and can be completed 4 to 8 times while maintaining high output levels.  You will be enhancing your fast twitch fibers A (slightly oxidative) and fast twitch B (anaerobic).  Adjust your recovery time to allow for full recovery – don’t begin your next interval until your heart rate is around 20 beats above your resting heart rate.  The fatigue levels associated with this type of training is high and should not be performed within more than twice a week with a minimum of two days of recovery in between.

Sprint Speed

This type of training helps you adapt to high levels of lactic acid and oxygen debt.  The major benefit to this type of training is that it teaches you how to vary your speed within a race without depleting your glycogen storages (i.e. bonking).  The duration of these intervals is usually between 30 seconds and 2 minutes and can be completed 4 to 6 times while maintaining high output levels.  You will be enhancing your fast twitch fibers A and B as well as your slow twitch fibers.  Each interval needs to be started fully rested.  If you allow for this to happen, you will split your energy sources evenly between anaerobic and aerobic.  In my opinion, this type of training is the most productive for high level racing, yet is the most overlooked within a racers program.  High level racing requires that you get up to a fast pace quickly and then maintain it for the entire duration.  During the first lap, your respirations will increase, lactic acid will accumulate and your effort level will be very high.  If your muscles are trained to cope with the lactic acid level and oxygen debt of the initial sprint, your body will not be as “shocked” as a body that has not familiarized itself with this glycogen burning byproduct (i.e. lactic acid).  Due to the higher levels of lactate, you will experience significant muscle soreness and stiffness so keep the frequency of these workouts to two times per week (with a minimum of three days of rest for optimum performance).

VO2 Max

This type of training gets a lot of publicity and is tossed around by many performance coaches as the key indicator of ability.  There is credibility to this mind set due to the fact that a racer that has a greater oxygen uptake number should also indicate a greater aerobic capacity and hence the fastest racer – it is not that simple.  In a race, physical capacities as racers come down to combinations of all the other elements in one’s performance: anaerobic thresholds, technique and efficiency while fatigued and desire.

The benefit associated with this type of training is that your heart pumps a lot of blood per beat and your stroke volume is elevated during the recovery phase, which allows more blood to be pumped during the next working phase.  More blood means more oxygen.  By elevating your VO2 max, will allow you to perform closer to your aerobic capacity.  The duration of these intervals is usually between 2 and 10 minutes and are progressive (you will elevate your HR to a high output level within the first two minutes and then maintain for the duration of the interval).  Your interval count should be no more than 4 times in order to maintain workout quality.  You will be enhancing your fast twitch fibers A as well as your slow twitch fibers.  Your rest interval will be half of your work duration.  One interesting side note, since your VO2 Max is a numerical value determined in relation to body weight, the leaner you are the higher your VO2 maximum due to the increased mitochondria and capillaries (in relation to body fat) present to deliver oxygen.  These types of workouts can be completed three to four times a week with adequate hours of quality sleep and consistent food intake to enhance the recovery opportunity.

Anaerobic Threshold

At your anaerobic threshold, lactic acid begins to diffuse back into the bloodstream for use as a fuel.  If you slow down, you will activate your aerobic system; if you speed up, you will produce lactic acid at a faster rate than you can diffuse it.  Anaerobic threshold training teaches your body to perform at the highest point possible without exceeding your anaerobic threshold.  The duration of these intervals is usually between 1 and 3 minutes.  Your interval count can be as minimal as 10 and as many as 50 (depending on the interval duration) and still maintain overall quality.  You will also be enhancing your fast twitch fibers A as well as your slow twitch fibers.  The rest intervals are short – between 20 and 60 seconds.  It is the enhancement of your Anaerobic Threshold in conjunction with your VO2 Max that makes the ideal racer.  The combination of these two performance elements allows the racer to perform at a higher level of output and for the entire duration of the race! Anaerobic threshold training is not as demanding as VO2 max training; your day to day recovery will be quick.  By keeping your workout recovery times to a minimum, you are stimulating your aerobic metabolism more than you’re anaerobic.  Your lactate levels are not nearly as high (resulting in less residual soreness).   Additionally, you are breaking the effort into shorter segments than in distance training which allows you to perform at a higher intensity level developing your aerobic energy stem to burn more fatty acids in proportion to glycogen.  This side benefit leads to a leaner body which in turn drives up your VO2 Max – see how this disciplined form of training has all kinds of fringe benefits?  Most importantly, working at this level of intensity simulates race pace and all of the physiological changes that occur within a race.  As the body becomes more familiar with this effort, the easier the racing becomes.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic training teaches your body to conserve glycogen and burn fatty acids as a primary fuel source.  Benefits to enhancing your aerobic engine: you will engage the fat burning process within the first 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic exercise; expedites the delivery of oxygen to working muscles; increase your stroke volume within the heart; increases the capillary density within the muscles; increases the mass and number of mitochondria and helps release ATP aerobically.  The ironic element of Aerobic Training is that it is the discipline of training that gets pushed aside first, yet has substantial benefits.  Because we are so acclimated to the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality, we have tendency to think that the easy, long workouts are not productive.  If you want to get fast – go long and at measured aerobic enhancement intensity!  The duration of Aerobic Training intervals are usually between 15 minutes and 3 hours.  Due to the continuous nature of Aerobic Training, there isn’t any actual interval count. You will be enhancing your slow twitch fibers with this type of training.   A couple words of caution with this type of training.  First, don’t check out mentally and go too easy.  You need to be at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate to reap the physiological benefits we are looking for during these types of workouts.  Secondly, though the intensity is low, don’t jeopardize your mechanics of whatever type of training you are doing (i.e. pedal mechanics, swim stroke, etc.) to avoid any unnecessary injuries.  These types of workouts are ideal for working on mental rehearsal and breathing focus (more on these elements in future articles).

As you can see each of the energy systems provide important physiological benefits to a racers performance program.  When you incorporate the proper workouts into a week of training (based entirely on your race periodization – Pre Season, Pre competitive, Competitive) you are building a human body that is as capable as any motor that a mechanic can build for you.  It just takes a little bit of research and field testing on behalf of the racer to determine how to put all of the elements together at the right time and at the correct intensity levels for optimum performance.

Eat Your Way to Your Potential

New research suggests that changing the way you eat could result in your body being able to adapt to the stress of training – especially hard training!

We all realize that nothing causes the human body to adapt to training and racing except sport specific training and racing. However, through proper eating – quality, timing and quantity, you can improve your ability to adapt and absorb hard, interval type workouts.

Between food and sleep, you have THE two key elements to improvement – sleep allows the body to rejuvenate and the food provides the vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fat) to rebuild the torn down muscle tissue, hormonal system and the cardiovascular system.

I always have my clients focus on health and wellness first and then performance. I utilize several tools to ensure that my clients are recovering adequately and consistently improving. You are either getting healthier, stronger and faster or you are not – there isn’t any middle ground. It is just a physiological fact.

What is Adaptation?

When you train, one of the adaptations is an increase in the development of mitochondria within your muscle tissue. Mitochondria are the cellular power plants which are responsible for producing a majority of the energy you use during endurance training and racing. Through consistent training, your body naturally produces chemicals that tell your body to produce additional mitochondria. This concept is not a new one, but is intriguing because we have become acclimated to the idea that training improves endurance by enhancing the production of mitochondria within the muscle tissue. But what if I told you that eating fruits and vegetables may produce the same effect? Let’s take a look.

Food to Help You Train Harder and Faster

While trying to determine the true source of obesity and develop that “wonder pill” that will help offset the negative health issues associated with obesity, research has tripped upon some intriguing results associated with endurance training and racing.

The area of research has stemmed around polyphenols and flavonoids. Please don’t get caught up with the big words and become intimidated, the concept is what I want you to take away, not the actual pronunciation! Both of these nutrients are found in fruit and vegetables and are available to the human body in many different types, but with similar functions within the body.

Resveratrol is one type of polyphenol which is found in red grapes (and also red wine!). In a 2006 edition of the science journal Cell, mice that were supplemented with Resveratrol had a 33% higher peak oxygen uptake and lasted nearly 50% longer before exhaustion.

When researchers took muscle samples of the mice, there was 2.5 times greater mitochondria within the muscles. Also increased was Citrate Cynthase, a key enzyme to producing energy within the muscles, along with additional triggers telling the muscle to produce more mitochondria.

Here is an interesting observation on behalf of the researchers. The mice that were supplemented with the resveratrol, were also able to complete more exercise on a consistent basis which in turn improved the fitness level of the mice which allowed them to longer and faster. This is a huge observation when you consider an athletes ability to get fitter involves being able to go both longer in duration (active recovery workouts) and faster (high quality interval workouts). An additional health benefit to consuming polyphenols is an improved immune system which will keep you from becoming run down, sick and away from training – hence improving your consistency. Another key factor within the world of health, wellness and ultimately performance.

Research completed here in the US has been researching another polyphenol called Quercetin. Mice that were supplemented with quercetin showed significant increases in the molecular triggers within the muscle tissue, indicating that their bodies were preparing to produce more mitochondria. After only seven days of supplementation, the mice were able to run 40% longer before becoming exhausted.

This research has validated that this supplementation has benefited individuals “less fit”. However, when you consider most athletes are running deficient in micro and macro nutrients within their bodies, this research validates that when these nutrients are present within the body, athletic performance improves.

Quercetin is found naturally in onions and apples – so maybe that saying that an “apple a day keeps the doctor away” may not be far-fetched. Research provides overwhelming evidence that quercetin can help reduce the stress of high intensity training and support the immune system. So this falls right in line with my desire to have my clients healthy first, then fit and fast!

Fruits and Vegetables Aren’t The Only Source of Improved Speed!

All natural herbs and spices are an excellent source for polyphenols as well. For example, research is validating that cinnamon has shown to stimulate the production of mitochondria within muscle tissue.

Before you Overdose on Supplementation

It is imperative that you realize that this research on quercetin and resveratrol is just that – research. As I mentioned earlier, the realization of these mitochondrial production levels within the muscle tissue came as a byproduct of researching obesity at a chemical and muscular tissue level. With this in mind, the improvements associated with physical performances cannot be overlooked. Factor in the all-natural source of these elements: fresh fruits, vegetable, herbs and spices, and you have another way to improve your immune system and make you more resilient to high intensity training.

Four Tasty Sources of Polyphenols

Blueberries – one of the highest polyphenol contents of all foods; benefits include enhanced aerobic function and off-setting the development of cancer. Add blueberries to your salad and top off your Greek full fat yogurt for additional nutrients, fiber and flavor.
Cinnamon – not only loaded in polyphenols, it helps reduce the insulin response to high glycemic meals, which helps you stabilize blood sugar levels and burn carbohydrates more efficiently. Add cinnamon to your all natural oatmeal.
Dark Chocolate – look for chocolates that have over 75% cocoa. In addition to having high polyphenol content, it has been shown to improve blood flow to working muscles. Consume high quality, dark chocolate as a mid-day snack (unless you can have a glass of red wine instead!).
Nutritionally Green Smoothies – these products are derived from real fruits and vegetables and provide a hefty dose of vitamin and minerals per scoop. They are easily absorbed by the body because it isn’t broken down through the digestion process in the gut. A scoop can easily be added to soups, broths, and smoothies to add to the nutrient value.

Grocery Shopping For Better Speed

Stock up on these items the next time you head to your grocery store:

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Red kidney beans
  • Blueberries, Strawberries
  • Acai berries
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Cherry juice
  • Green tea/coffee
  • Cinnamon, Sage, Rosemary, Spearmint, Thyme, Tumeric
  • Cloves, Dried Mexican Oregano, Basil, Curry, Celery Seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Black Elderberry