Perfect Timing – When to Eat, Stretch And Train for Optimum Performance
Racers live by a clock: whether it is measuring lap times or how many months before a big national, we’re constantly thinking about where the time goes. We not only have to plan when we are going to ride, but also all the other things that have to be completed in a day that affects performance: eating, stretching and getting enough sleep. And when is the key, because there’s an optimal time for everything. If you eat, stretch or train at the wrong time, you could miss the associated performance benefits.
To help you get the most from your riding & cross training efforts, here is a daily, weekly, and monthly guide to help you fit it all in.
Daily planner: Eat, Foam Roll, Warm Up & Recover Properly
Eat Prior to Working Out
Eat soon before you head out and you could be plagued with G.I. (gastro-intestinal) issues. But if your last snack or meal was hours ago, you could run out of energy. The goal is to time your meals & snacks to provide a stabilized blood sugar level throughout your riding session or cross training work out. Accomplish this by eating every 2 hours after you wake up in the morning
Allow 2 hours after eating a complete meal before exercising – this allows for complete absorption and proper purging avoiding cramping. If you are tight on time, consume 8-10 ounces of Energy Fuel to provide your brain and muscles the easily absorbable carbohydrates and electrolytes necessary for optimum performance.
Use a foam roller before your pre-ride or work out stretching. The direct pressure helps vasodilate (open up) the tissue bringing fresh blood to the muscles about to be used. When you foam roll prior to stretching, you will reduce the activation of the Stretch Reflex, reducing your risk of a pulled muscle.
Chronic aches and pains like Achilles tendinitis, planter fascia, etc. benefit from direct pressure before exercise because it increases blood flow & muscle elasticity. Riding & cross training is more productive when tender/sore spots are warm. Start by rolling with a tennis ball move to a lacrosse ball then manual massage then sport specific exercise. Click here for some foam roller & trigger point videos
There are three physiological benefits to an effective warm up. First, your warm up is an activity that allows the body to transition from inactivity to activity and to distribute the blood flow into the extremities. This distribution of blood warms up the muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments avoiding any cramping or tearing. Click here for more information about the benefits associated with a good warm up.
Immediately after a riding or cross training session, your muscles and liver are looking for simple sugar to replenish your storage levels for the next workout. Your window of opportunity is 20-30 minutes after you finish because of an enzyme (glycogen synthase) that is at its highest activity level immediately following exercise. By consuming real food that is easily digestible is the key to optimum replenishment and recovery. Click here for some simple recovery smoothies to optimize your recovery process.
Ice your pain
When to apply ice depends on the injury. If the pain is chronic, here’s the best post workout sequence; foam roll, static stretch, ice. But for acute pain, Skip foam rolling & stretching and ice immediately. The quicker you ice, the faster you slow down inflammation. Do a 5 minute on-off cycle as much as possible during the first 72 hours after injury. NOTE: Refrain from applying heat to the aggravated/injured for the first 72 hours – this will only increase the inflammation process. Click here to learn how to handle an acute injury in more detail.
Weekly planner: Go Faster, Get Strong, Build Endurance
Go Faster Than You Are Comfortable With
1-2 times a week, going faster than you are comfortable with push the mental-muscle combination to process faster rates of speed. Once you have built your strength & endurance, this is the final piece of finding new speed. Capture your average lap times in a 15 minute moto and then after a full recovery, complete 2 lap sprints where your goal is to be 1-2 seconds faster; the key is to stop after 2 laps and completely recover (failing to stop and recover will lead to a wreck and a possible injury). Due to the intensity of this workout, allow 2-3 days recovery in between sessions. If you need some additional sprint workouts (both on and off of the track), please email me directly.
Two sport specific strength training sessions per week can improve your on the bike strength. Being strong will improve your biomechanics, which enables you to go faster without increased risk of injury because of good form on the bike. If you need some sport specific strength exercises, please email me directly.
Aerobic function – the ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles, is the biggest physical limiter in a racers program. Though this type of training is relatively “boring” to highly competitive riders and racers, it should represent 60-75% of your weekly volume of training (both on and off of the motorcycle). Racers have this mindset that only sprint work creates speed, this is not correct. You have to create the infrastructure to deliver oxygen to the muscles – endurance training accomplishes this. It is like building a big bore motor and then putting a carb on the bike that this too small; if the motor can’t get enough fuel, it doesn’t run to its true potential. Please email me if you would like some endurance specific workouts (both on and off the track).
Monthly Planner: Schedule a Massage & Evaluate Speed, Strength & Endurance
Schedule a Massage
Scheduling a massage once a month will not only relieve muscle tightness, but also help identify any tight muscles that are associated with bad biomechanics specific to riding and cross training (i.e. overuse injuries). Regular massage addresses issues immediately, rather than them develop over time into a pulled muscle or strained muscle attachment. Consistent massage allows your therapist to identify patterns with your body and can help you develop a strategy throughout your race season to ensure that your muscles are able to move within the optimum range of motion (increasing your strength and improving your endurance). Note: massage does not release toxins or metabolic waste, but rather reduces the inflammation process associated with micro traumas tears associated with exercise and load bearing exercises (weight lifting & plyometrics).
Evaluate Speed, Strength & Endurance
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan of testing every four to five weeks (depending on your race schedule). The goal with consistent testing is to identify your physical limiters, train to eliminate your limiters and then re-test to ensure that your training efforts are producing the results that you desire. A typical racer’s schedule does not allow for non productive riding and cross training away from the track. With sport specific assessments, you can identify where you should be putting your training efforts to improve your speed and reduce your late moto fatigue. If you would like to receive a copy of my assessment protocols, please email me.