Avoid these Top 5 Mistakes at Lorettas
Before we review the five most common mistakes that racer needs to avoid, let’s take a brief look at the physiological demands of Loretta’s: long motos & high intensity racing over 5 days.
Loretta’s hosts some of the longest races seen on the amateur circuit – 20 minutes at intensity levels frequently held only for 6-10 minutes. Though this sounds like an obvious statement, let’s take a look at the physiological limitations associated with high intensity racing for such long durations. At sprint effort, the racer has to “teach” the body to process glycogen quickly and rid itself of lactic acid (the byproduct of burning stored sugar) quickly. Note, the higher the intensity level, the more stored sugar (also referred to as glycogen) your body burns & the more lactic acid you will produce.
With this in mind, it is imperative that you focus on maximizing your high intensity energy system (lactate tolerance) both on and off of the motorcycle. When this is implemented properly, the following physiological adaptations take place (resulting in faster overall speeds & eliminating late moto fatigue):
- Improved oxygen delivery to the working muscles
- Improved elimination of lactic acid & less “pain” associated with high intensity racing
- Increased number of mitochondria (remember in school: “The power house of the cell”) & energy
In my opinion, the biggest benefits of high intensity training is that it prepares the rider mentally for the demands associated with high intensity racing, especially late in the race when mental focus can make the difference between 1st and 5th place. When you “train” yourself to stay mentally sharp, you as a racer will be able to make the necessary decisions that will build upon themselves throughout the race.
Here are few things you can do during in training over the next two weeks to fine tune your speed, avoid late moto fatigue and improve your overall results at Loretta’s:
Mistake #1: Deviating from your regular routine
When it comes to getting the body warmed up sufficiently and properly, it needs to be subjected to the same exercise protocols that are used in training when away from the track. For example, it doesn’t make any sense to expect a bicycle to be a sufficient warm-up tool if you’re using something like the Concept 2 rower in your every day workouts. You also need to consider intensity levels. We don’t want the intensity to be so high during the warm-up that is that it ends up leaving the body tired, but we also don’t want the heart rate to not rise to a level that starts to produce and activate a metabolic process known as the lactic acid shuffle. What we see is either riders are using the wrong tools to warm up or they’re warming up at too high of an intensity. For a specific warm up routine, please email me and I will send you a copy of what we use with our riders.
Mistake #2: Coming to the starting line dehydrated or hungry
When you sleep at night; your body pulls the necessary sugar (glycogen) from your liver to feed your brain functions during the night. When you exercise, your body pulls the necessary sugar from your muscles. The challenge that we have on race day is the duration of time since your last meal (i.e. dinner the night before) – can range anywhere from 12 to 15 hours!
Think about race weekends: you’re going to be racing on Sunday morning and practice or racing begins at 7:00 am. Let’s say that you ate dinner at 6:00pm Saturday night and you wake up at 6:00am Sunday morning, that’s 12 hours since your last meal. To put it in perspective, imagine that if you ate your morning breakfast at 8:00 in the morning, but then you didn’t again until 8:00 pm and you had no snacks or any meals in between that timeframe, you’d be extremely hungry. But for some reason (whether we chalk it up to a nervous stomach or we’re afraid that we’re going to get cramps) we don’t take the time to eat a good sized breakfast leaving our stored sugar within our muscles at a deficit before the gate drops.
When you add high intensity racing, which tends to drain the stored sugar from the tissue quickly, you can see why racers have a tendency to fade quickly or miss simple lines – all because the blood sugar levels & stored sugar within the muscles are too low. Frequently this fade or silly mistake syndrome is blamed on a lack of fitness, but rather, should be attributed to low blood sugar levels. If you would like some pre-race meal suggestions to avoid low blood sugar levels, please email me directly and I will send you a variety of suggestions.
Mistake #3: Lack of a post race recovery routine
When you come off that track, there’s an active enzyme within your muscles that helps you replenish sugar within the muscle and the liver called the Glycogen Synthase Enzyme. You have approximately 20 to 30 minutes where this enzyme is at its highest activity level, so when riders come off the track, the first thing they need to be focusing on is the replenishment of depleted sugar and re-hydration.
Think about your body like your motocrycle, if you took a bit of oil out of the engine after each lap, you wouldn’t expect the engine to still be running strong at the end of the race. The idea here is that every lap depletes some level of sugar and water out of your body (the exact amount is based on the duration and intensity level) and it’s the racer’s responsibility to get the body replenished to perform at an optimum level for the next race. Whether its 20 minutes later, 30 minutes later, whenever that next race is, you have to understand that as soon as you come off the track, your first priority is to get your body replenished and rehydrated.
Failure to do so is going to manifest itself out on the track as you start to fade and go backwards. Again, we’re right back to an empty gas tank within the muscle. If you want to be able to perform optimally, moto after moto, day after day, it starts after each race (or workout during the week) – so plan ahead and implement consistently. If you would like some post-race meal suggestions to quickly replenish low blood sugar levels, please email me directly and I will send you a variety of suggestions.
Mistake #4: Racing at an intensity that you are not familiar with
This mistake is not a misprint – many racers fail to race to their full potential by riding too hard-too early in a race!
It is obvious that on race day you’re going to be pushing a pace that’s difficult to emulate during training, but training at an intensity level that’s much less than the demands of race day leads to a culture shock to the body. It produces more lactic acid than the body has been acclimated to and the physiologic process of absorbing and diffusing lactic acid shuts the muscles down. The end result is that the contractions of the muscles are slowed down, you begin to focus on how bad your body is hurting and instead of focusing on racing the track, and you begin to make errors on the track that begins to negatively affect your confidence & lap times!
To offset this negative effect of lactic acid during your race, you need to make sure you are training at the same intensity levels off the motorcycle with various forms of cross-training (Concept 2 rowing, road or MTB, swimming, etc.). If you want to race at a higher level on the race weekend, incorporate similar durations and intensities levels during on track practice & cross training off of the motorcycle.
Note: your maximum heart rate is different depending on the specific modality you are using. For example, your maximum heart rate will be higher on the motorcycle than it will be on the bicycle because of the amount of muscle that is used (more muscle used, the higher the heart rate). A frequent error is using a generic formula (i.e. 220-age) or using one maximum heart rate number and applying it to all forms of cross training – this will have devastating results on the track. You will either be racing at intensity levels that are beyond what you have trained off the track or you will train to easily in cross training during the week. This creates high levels of confusion within the body and the brain.
It is imperative that you know your maximum heart rate for each form of cross training along with your maximum heart rate on the bike. Additionally, you will need your resting heart rate to accurately create your various heart rate training zones specific to the necessary energy systems related to performance (aerobic to anaerobic threshold/lactate tolerance).
Mistake #5: Not racing the track
The final and biggest problem that I see on race day is racers shifting their focus from preparation and implementation of a normal routine to things that a racer can’t control: who is on the gate, track conditions, etc… For example, a rider begins to size themselves up against somebody else and then pulls in a past performance of the other rider, and then immediately dumps that information into the race at hand. Think about it this way, if you were going to roll up to the gate against RD, RV, CR, it doesn’t really matter that any of those guys may have won 10 straight races, what matters is the fact that you have the same opportunity to go out and track as aggressively as he does. Your only focus should be about applying the fundamentals of going fast in corners, over jumps, through rhythm sections, etc. & minimize your mistakes.
If somebody else is jumping something, they think they need to jump it. Instead of focusing on what someone else is doing and you’re not (for whatever reason), change your focus to racing the track; race every section as hard and as fast as you can, trying to optimize every single section of the course and your goal should be to execute skills faster and more consistent than everybody else. It’s not that you can’t learn something from somebody else, but when the gate drops, the only thing that you can take control of is yourself. So, what I want you to be thinking about is how I can get through this section faster than anybody else. Frequently, this requires thinking outside the box. When another rider is doing something through a section that nobody else has thought about, and probably not even willing to try, the results speak for themselves. Be smart, but creative and you will be surprised at the outcome.
Finally, if you want to improve your race results at Loretta’s, create the mindset that you are racing the track – section by section with your pace falling off as minimal as possible. You would rather not fade from a 2:00 lap time to 2:10 by the end of the race. Ideally you are looking for less than a 1 second deviation from your first to last lap – just like you have seen executed by the best racers on television. Ironically, the only way you can do this, is to race the track aggressively (no matter what is going on during the race), minimize mistakes, maximize momentum everywhere and make the best of something when it goes wrong (i.e. wash the front end). Allowing frustration and anger to sidetrack your focus, doesn’t fix the fact that you’ve messed up a section. Re-establish your timing; get back to charge mode and create the fastest lap times possible.
If you have any questions or need anything clarified, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email. MotoE will be at Loretta’s all week providing tracks side support: hydration stations, warm up areas, soft tissue maintenance, video review along with daily giveaways. Whether you are a racer, parent, friend or spectator, please stop by and say hello – we would love to meet you!