Avoid the Training Vacuum
by John Wakefield
In motocross and pretty much 98% of all motorsport, being 3/10th a lap better than your opponents means you have the upper hand going into races and gives you that little extra confidence and leaves your competition scratching their heads.
Once your machinery is in tip top condition and you are happy with the set up, the last piece of the puzzle is your body and unfortunately unlike your bike mechanic, you are the only person responsible for that piece of machinary. Often top riders/drivers have trainers who will help towards their overall fitness and training program but even with the help of a trainer, it is up to you to know your body and know what does and does not work. Only then can you take this info and relay it back to the trainer.
If you have always done the same form of training volume and load over the years and yielded the same result fitness wise year after year and you are now unhappy and not seeing any improvement then it is more than likely you are in a training vacuum.
I am writing this because I believed I was there with an athlete of mine whose 6 year working relationship was in a rut. Although he never expressed anything to me about having bad form and fitness throughout the previous season(s) and was happy with his training we had been doing but to be honest, I wasn’t and I wanted to change that. I believed we could get more out of him and when we changed all his training in January and the changes took effect he came out swinging 2.5 months later.
For any athlete who has for a couple of years trained seriously and has kept focus and notes on their training will have an understanding an idea of a certain pattern or cycle of specific training, volume and intensity that yielded results. Now, to make effect gains you will need or experience more training in order to make significant changes and as a result land up increasing your training volume and intensity but at the end result is no change in form. This often leads to loss of form and has a negative effect and the athlete will go into a panic mode as he is not making progress and this leads to a number of scenarios that often snowballs and he feels the need to make some drastic changes like a change in trainers, coaches, different sponsors, classes, less training, more training and worst case scenario they call it a day with their chosen sporting discipline and are forced into retirement and turning their back on the sport. The dark side of it all they turn to Performance Enhancing Drugs in order to reach the form they think they need. All of these things can be avoided.
What the athlete should do in this situation is take a deep breath, sit down and evaluate all the factors of their current training principles. If you have never followed a proper training program and just done what you believe worked for you anything you did would result in a improvement in overall fitness but now you have hit a plateau as mentioned above which is a natural occurrence. The athlete must now go back and look at all the basic training principals they have done and realize that they may have done all the right things but now they need to look at different and more sophisticated training methods in order to make forward progress in their fitness.
It was mentioned earlier in the article that long hard sessions are not needed to make improvements; this is both incorrect and correct. They are beneficial to evaluate how a athlete functions under stress and to create mental and physical strength to allow a athlete to deliver performances when already fatigued (such as 2 weeks mesocycles that are purely intensity based) However, the scientific literature is very conclusive when it comes to comparing polarized training (very short, high intensity training combined with longer, very low intensity training) VS longer, harder training. Polarized training is more beneficial and delivers better performance outcomes. If you want to adapt and increase your training status, you will have to be able to produce a high enough stress and overload on the interval sessions prescribed right now. This requires you to be adequately recovered so that you can reach the required targets.
Failing to do so will result in lack of progress and this is the mistake that so many professionals make because they think harder and longer is better.
I hope this helps you and gives you some insight into your training and be able to make the correct changes to your program in order to become a better athlete and remember change is often very good and you mustn’t be scared to try it.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.