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Off-Road Practice Training

by Coach Seiji

For those of you following a Premium Training plan on Virtual Trainer and CANNOT ride, click here to choose an off-road replacement workout to be used in place of riding.

Most of the subscribers to Racer X Virtual Trainer’s Premium Training services are likely to be in a situation where training time is limited and actual off-road riding time even more limited. The goal of this article is to guide you into making the most of the time you do have riding and to get the most benefit to your overall performance related skills and fitness.

The best way to improve your overall off-road riding ability is to use the time you do have on attacking your weaknesses. These “limiters” can hamper your efforts to improve as a specific weakness in ability or certain fitness may negate gains made elsewhere. You can see this in a general sense, say when a rider has incredible speed in the first lap but drops off the pace drastically after a certain amount of time (lacking riding specific endurance) or a rider that has consistent lap times for the duration of an event but doesn’t do well because his speed isn’t there (riding skills lacking). Another general example may be a rider that does consistently well in local woods races but chokes dramatically at a larger event (mental issues.)

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An honest self-appraisal is the first step. You can use the main categories of riding specific fitness, riding skills, and mental skills as you three main divisions and determine which one of these is the most limiting to your overall ability. You can then be more specific in each of the divisions and identify a much more specific limiter.

Rider Categories - General
1. Riding Specific Fitness
2. Riding Specific Skills
3. Mental Issues

Here is an example of a structured track day for Joe Vet whose self proclaimed limiters in the above categories look like this:

Rider Categories - Specific Limiters
1. Riding Specific Fitness: Biggest limiter. Have good speed for first 30-minutes but pace drops off. Just run out of energy and have to dramatically slow down to avoid crashing.
2. Mental Issues: Second limiter. Make one mistake and can’t let it go; think about it for too long while riding causing riding to become directed, not natural feeling.
3. Riding Specific Skills: Last limiter. Long history of riding, technically good fundamentals intact, have good speed for 30 minutes and when no mental blocks, riding feels smooth and natural.

In this limiter profile, the most effective use of available riding time would be to have as much riding duration as possible per session. This is usually not the case, but because this rider is technically proficient with his or her riding skills and has a deep background of riding with these skills, it will help to bring the pace down a touch to be able to ride longer durations in control. Better to slow down to gain the ride duration and ride proficiently and NOT sloppy. This is again, only in this specific case of having the skills intact but not the specific riding fitness, and again, DO NOT RIDE SLOPPY. Riding sloppy only gets you better at riding sloppy. This rider would also benefit from mentally recreating situations where he or she does make a mistake, but the visualization of this is that the mistake just happens, riding continues with the same conviction; the moment has passed with zero after effects. Essentially you are mentally and emotionally recreating the scene the way you want it to play, repeatedly. When the moment does occur, the movie plays automatically as it has become engrained into your mind.

This has unfortunately been the demise of many young athletes showing promise. Your lifestyle needs to match your athletic efforts or you are just shortchanging yourself!

The rider with the limiter profile above, once gaining the required riding specific endurance for his or her goals, could then bring the speed up to the edge of riding ability for the duration of the riding session. Let’s just say that the rider can now complete 110% of the duration of his or her longest possible event at the limit of the riding skills that are present….the limiter has now changed, and the technical riding skills are not matching the now improved riding specific fitness. The rider has also become very adept at moving quickly and seamlessly beyond a mistake and now feels pre-competition anxiety. Now the available riding time would be better spent bringing the skills up to increase the speed and mentally imaging the pre-race routine with a calm confidence instead of nervousness.

All of this is dependent on the lifestyle supporting these efforts. If your lifestyle doesn’t support the training (poor diet, not enough sleep, alcohol or drug abuse, etc.) then long term, any small gains in any area will eventually be obliterated. This has unfortunately been the demise of many young athletes showing promise…just wanted to add this important facet of developing as a rider…your lifestyle needs to match your athletic efforts or you are just shortchanging yourself!

This has been a very general description of how to self asses your limiters and create a practice scheme to address them. You are only as good as your weakest link and it is too easy to repeat working on the strong points as this is usually the most enjoyable way to ride and keeps your ego fed. Successful athletes know that they need to park the ego and work on what is currently the weakest link to improve overall. This takes discipline and a goal oriented outlook for sure but lofty goals demand such measures and the rewards are so sweet! Good luck out there and thanks for reading!

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About the Author: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt, Drew Yenerch, Jason Anderson, and Andrew Short. Learn more at or contact Coach Seiji directly.

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. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Victor Stoeckmann April 02, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Dear Trainer,
    Hi, I’m your average Joe vet rider that fades on lap 4 of the 5 lap race. I’d be a pretty fast old guy if I could maintain. I only need 10-12 minutes of endurance. It’s been going on so long almost since I’ve started back riding 18 years ago. So frustrating. I need a new program. I have lots of free time. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
    Victor in Phoenix AZ

  2. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer April 19, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Victor.....two options. First, you could buy a VT Premium training plan and let us do all the thinking for you OR you can check out all the article on the site for free. There are several Vet oriented type articles that might be exactly what you are looking for.

    But, for $19.95/month (and the first month free) you'd be crazy not to at least try the VT Premium training. Thanks for checking out Virtual Trainer and good luck!

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