5 Components for Success at Loretta Lynn's
By Robb Beams
Robb Beams is the owner of Motoendurance.net and is the human performance coach for motocross professionals Kyle Chisholm (Team Motorsport Kawasaki) and Ashley Fiolek (Team Honda/Redbull) and off road professionals Andrew Matusek and Jake Fiddler (Factory Monster/Kawasaki).  In addition to the Toyota TMX riders Ben Lamay, Lowell Spangler and Nick Jackson, his amateur riders include Kevin Walker, Max Tannenbaum, Spencer Dally and Warren Nelson. Motoendurance.net develops client specific endurance, strength, lactate tolerance, flexibility, daily nutritional and pre race nutritional programs and strategies for motocross racers.  If you would like Robb to evaluate your current program, feel free to contact him at Motoendurance.net or 407.701.7586 directly. - Virtual Trainer

Consistency & Specificity
 Click for full size image
The Rock and Roll Platform with the TransformX Training System is the perfect tool for warming-up at the track!
Speed is a result of two specific variables – physical fitness and specificity.   You won’t become a fast motocross racer by climbing rocks.  At an elite level of racing, speed requires two elements.  First, the pattern of joint and muscle coordination must be specific to motocross (accomplished with the help of a riding coach).  Second, speed must place specific demands on the muscles and associated energy systems (accomplished with the help of a human performance coach).  Through a year long fitness program that is based on the scientific overload principle, an elite racer is moving his or her level of speed to the next level incrementally from month to month.  This is evaluated through field testing and analysis.  If the work loads are appropriate and rest follows, the body will respond and your overall fitness and resulting speed will develop.  This is where consistency becomes factored into the equation.  Your sleep patterns (see below), your pre race warm up, strength, flexibility and nutritional programs should not be adjusted too drastically at this time (unless something is obviously missing).  However, if you need to make adjustments to your program, keep in mind that your body needs approximately four weeks to absorb the new program elements and commit it to muscle memory; so get busy so you are ready come race week!  One more thought regarding consistency and specificity – you need to make sure that you are subjecting your body to the exact conditions that you will experience during race week: riding in the middle of the day, establishing an eating and hydration plan prior to racing at race speed (very important that the intensity is high) and having a specific warm up and stretching routine prior to racing.  Keep in mind that at Loretta’s you have a long pre-staging wait and you will not be able to jump off of your Concept2 rower and then go straight to the line – develop some sort of pre race routine that is applicable to Loretta’s and incorporate it into your daily warm up routine (I strongly suggest the Man and Machine Duraband system – it is very specific to warming up racing specific muscles and is convenient to carry to the staging area and start line). 

Anaerobic Endurance
The difficulty with this variable is tied to the conflict of short area qualifying races (3 to 5 lap sprints) and then the jump to 3 x 20 minute motos throughout the week of Loretta’s.  By scientific definition, anaerobic endurance is the body’s ability to resist fatigue at very high effort levels.  Racers who perform well at Loretta’s will be racers who have been implementing workouts that are focused on developing a large aerobic base and built up a tolerance for lactate (both on and off the motorcycle).  If your program has not been addressing these energy systems, please contact me and I will forward some specific workouts that will enhance these energy systems without leaving you too fatigued come race week.

 Click for full size image
#67 Ashley Fiolek was the 2004 Loretta Lynn's Champion in the Girl's 9-13 class and added 12 more amateur titles before turning pro in 2007
Flexibility is a subject matter that frequently gets overlooked by many racers but ironically has a direct influence on body positioning and resulting speed for the racer on the bike.  For example, tight hamstrings can also contribute to a tight lower back, which manifests itself by keeping the rider from standing when necessary!  Examples of muscle tightness and how it is reflected in a racers position on the bike are numerous; however, a consistent and effective program of stretching may prevent such issues from occurring and result in a faster overall race speed.  Also, flexibility can help avoid torn ligaments due to the lack of range of motion.  When a joint can not go through its complete range of motion due to tight muscles, it will shift the impact of the fall to the attachments and/or insertions of the muscles.  In addition to improving a racer’s overall race speed (due to proper riding positioning) and avoiding any torn muscles, stretching following workouts also aids the recovery process by improving muscle cell’s uptake of amino acids by promoting protein synthesis within muscle cells and by maintaining the integrity of muscle cells.  If you are confused about what muscles you should stretch and/or how to stretch, drop me an email and I will send you a master stretching outline specific for motocross. 

Nutritional Support
Dietary decisions are a mixture of four macronutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates and water.  How much of each you include in your diet has a great deal to do with how well you train and race – especially when it counts most!  Let’s look at each macronutrient’s benefits and amount needed for optimum performance.  Protein: Protein is necessary to repair muscle damage, maintain the immune system, manufacture hormones and enzymes, replace red blood cells that carry oxygen to the muscles and produce up to 10 percent of the energy needed for intense workouts and races.  Without getting too technical, protein is made up of 20 amino acids useable by the human body as building blocks for replacing damaged cells.  However, there are nine amino acids that the body cannot manufacture by itself and therefore, must come from your diet. In regards to the amount of protein an elite racer needs on a daily basis, according to Peter Lemon, a noted protein researcher at Kent State University suggests about 0.020 to 0.022 ounces of protein per pound of body weight each day.  Good sources of lean protein come from wild game or free ranging cattle, seafood, poultry and egg whites.  Such foods and other high protein foods should be eaten throughout the day and not consumed in one meal.  Fat: Fat has been bounced around in so many ways no one knows what to think anymore.  For elite racers, fat is very important because it assists with the manufacturing of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, nerve and brain cells and is important for carrying and absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K and also to help avoid colds and infections.  In regards to the amount of fat an elite racer needs on a daily basis, aim for consuming 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories from fat.  Good sources of fat (especially clean, unsaturated fats) include lean meats, coldwater fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.  Additionally, oils and spreads of almonds, avocado, hazelnut, macadamia nut, pecan, cashew and olives offer great sources of monounsaturated and omega-3 rich fats.  Carbohydrates: carbohydrates have also become convoluted due to the discussion about high and low glycemic carbohydrates.   Without getting into extensive food chemistry, the thing to remember is that some carbohydrates enter the blood stream sooner than others producing an exaggerated blood sugar response and quickly bringing out all of the negative elements of high insulin (a hormone released by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels) levels.  Ideally an elite racer is consuming low glycemic carbohydrates and is also having a source of protein with each meal including carbohydrates.  By combining the protein and the carbohydrates, you are creating an ideal absorption rate within the stomach and providing a more moderate glycemic meal (and stable energy levels).  Just as a side note, if you are having a hard time losing those few last pounds, take a look at your source of carbohydrates.  If they are high on the glycemic index, this may be your source of frustration.  When the pancreas is working overtime, it actually inhibits your body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source, converts carbohydrates and protein to body fat and moves fat into the blood and then to storage sites.  Water: here is a staggering statistic: race speed decreases by 2 percent for each 1 percent of body weight lost in dehydration.  In a sport where racers are covering every square inch of there body (except for your nose and chin) with race clothing, the endothermic process is not able to do its job of dissipating heat through sweat.  When you add to this challenge the fact that most racers don’t consume enough fluids in there daily diet, the chance for chronic dehydration is quite high (resulting in compromised recovery and risk of illness).  Most racers believe that if they drink when they are thirsty, they are ahead of the curve – wrong!  When the human thirst mechanism is engaged, dehydration is already under way.  As a rule of thumb, racers need to be consuming 8 to 12 cups of water per day.  However, some athletes sweat more than others and need to evaluate the loss of body weight during exercise.  Weigh yourself prior to and immediately following exercise (of any type), for every pound of weight you have lost during the exercise, you are in need of two cups of water to begin the replenishment cycle.  Additionally, you can use the frequency of urination as another evaluation tool – ideally once every two hours and your urine should be clear (unless you have just consumed a big meal or are taking vitamins).  Food sources that facilitate your water intake include fruits and vegetables.  So you can see that by consuming a balanced diet you pick up additional benefits without even trying.  If you would like a list of menus that we use with our racers, or would like me to evaluate your current food profile, please email me directly and I will be happy to help put together a performance meal plan peaking for Loretta’s. 

Sleep – Possibly the missing link!
 Click for full size image
Kyle Chisholm was the 2003, 125 B Modified Loretta Lynn's Champion!
When you look at the busy schedules that racers keep, it is difficult to fit sleep into the daily routine. Frequently, as time becomes a premium, sleep is usually bounced around (by either going to bed late or getting up early).  This pattern of sleep deprivation eventually leads to a drop in performance, feelings of depression and frustration with training and life in general. Cutting sleep short will eventually undermine all of your fitness and race speed because during sleep, the body releases growth hormones that repair damaged tissue resulting from the stress of training.  As you increase the amount of either intensity or duration, the amount of sleep must also increase accordingly to maintain balance within the body.  Ideally we are looking for eight to ten hours of sleep a night for optimum performance.

In addition to quantity of sleep, we are also concerned about the quality of sleep.  Difficulty going to sleep and waking up several times throughout the night cuts into the benefits derived from a straight night of sleep.  Here are some tips from a recent sleep study to help improve your quality of sleep as a racer:
• Be consistent on your bed time every day (including weekends)
• As you approach your bed time, unwind slowly by reading
• Sleep in a completely dark room, at a cool temperature
• Take a warm shower or bath prior to settling in for the evening
• If you are not lactose intolerant, drink warm milk to promote relaxation (if you are lactose intolerant, use non caffeinated herbal tea)
• Eat a small snack of either tuna or cottage cheese  due to the high levels of sleep-inducing L-tryptophan
• Progressively contract and relax muscles to induce total body relaxation
• Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea or cola in the last two hours before bed time
• Avoid large meals right before bed

Putting it all Together
The key to any human performance program is addressing all of the rider’s strengths and weaknesses and putting an emphasis on elevating the weaknesses to match the other strengths.  I realize that this sounds odd to work on the weak elements; however, as an elite racer, you are only as good as your weakest link.  Think about Mike Larocco (I am a big fan), he was always known as a racer in great shape, but one who couldn’t buy a start!  Imagine how many more wins and possible championships he could have put together, if he had gotten off the line and positioned himself up front early. 

With this in mind, you can see that there are numerous elements that the body needs to perform at an elite level. If one element is missing, you will not be able to perform at an optimum level (just like your motorcycle) and you don’t want to wait until a high profile race like Loretta’s to find out what your weaknesses are.  By Wednesday at Loretta’s, you will be able to identify those riders that have a complete program due to the consistency in his or her results and confidence they possess when they come to the line.  Prepared riders look forward to 20 minute motos, 100 degree weather and 39 other elite racers to test their worth.  If you look at the five variables we discussed here: Consistency & Specificity, Anaerobic Endurance, Flexibility, Nutritional Support and Sleep, you will notice that outside of anaerobic endurance, the other variables don’t require any additional “work” but rather attention to details.  This is good news to an elite racer in his or her final preparations for Loretta Lynn’s because as a rule of thumb, over this final stage of preparation, you are NOT going to gain any significant levels of fitness; however, you can lose a lot of fitness by overtraining (even if it is only by 1 percent) and doubting your current program.  Slight adjustments are ok, but your program got you into the show, don’t doubt yourself now!  Relax, pay attention to the details and enjoy the fact that you are one of the fastest riders in the country. 

Good luck!  I will see you at Loretta’s.  

That's it from Robb for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at crytset@comcast.net .  In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.

Have a Training Question? Ask on the Virtual Trainer Forum

>>   Email Article to a Friend <<