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Moto: 5 Key Components To Developing New Speed

Endurance is a result of three specific variables – aerobic base, muscular strength and sport specificity. You won't become a better endurance athlete by climbing rocks. As an athlete, sport specific speed & efficiency requires two elements. First, the pattern of joint and muscle coordination must be specific to your endurance sport(s). Second, speed & endurance must place specific demands on the muscles and associated energy systems. Through a year long performance program that is based on the scientific overload principle, an athlete is moving his or her level of speed & endurance 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 (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. 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 on race day.

Anaerobic Endurance

By scientific definition, anaerobic endurance is the body's ability to resist fatigue at very high effort levels. Racers that will perform well are athletes that have been implementing workouts that are focused on developing a large aerobic base and building up a tolerance for lactate. 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 day.


Flexibility is a subject matter that frequently gets overlooked by many athletes but ironically has a direct influence on body positioning, biomechanics and resulting speed. For example, tight hamstrings can also contribute to a tight lower back, which manifests itself by keeping the athlete from establishing an optimum body position. Examples of muscle tightness and how it is reflected in an athlete’s efficiency 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 load levels to other muscles, attachments and/or insertions of the muscles. In addition to improving a racer's overall efficiency 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 to endurance

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 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 endurance athletes, 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 endurance athlete 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 endurance athlete 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 last few 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. 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 athletes believe that if they drink when they are thirsty, they are ahead of the curve - wrong! With the human thirst mechanism is engaged, dehydration is already under way. As a rule of thumb, athletes need to be consuming half of their body weight in filtered/cold 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 athletes, 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.

Sleep - Possibly the missing link!

When you look at the busy schedules that endurance athletes keep, it is difficult to fit sleep into the daily routine. Frequently as athletes find time to be 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 an endurance athlete: 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 athlete'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 endurance athlete, you are only as good as your weakest link.

With this in mind, you can see that there are numerous elements that the body needs to perform as an endurance athlete. If one element is missing, you will not be able to perform at an optimum level and you don't want to wait until your goal race to find out what your weaknesses are. Prepared athletes look forward to race day and associated variables like 100 degree heat and humidity along.

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 busy endurance athlete! Relax, pay attention to the details and enjoy the fact that you are one of the fittest athlete’s in the country.

Coach Robb has been working with riders & racers for the last 25 years and is the founder of the Complete Racing Solutions Performance Program & Nutritionally Green Supplements based in Orlando Florida. He has contributed to publications such as Racer X, FLMX and is a regular contributor to RacerX online, RacerXVT, Vurbmoto and various racing websites. Robb can also be heard on the monthly radio show DMXS answering listener’s questions about nutrition & fitness. coachrobb.com is a premium resource center for motocross, supercross and GNCC riders of all abilities and ages. The website outlines the training solutions used with great success by Factory Kawasaki/Pro-Circuit’s Adam Cianciarulo, Broc Tickle, Darryn Durham; Factory, Factory Honda’s Ashley Fiolek, Suzuki’s Jordan Bailey, Factory KTM Off Road Charlie Mullins & Yamaha’s Roman Brown & Morgan Moss. Instructional videos with Coach Robb can be found on the Coach Robb’s Youtube Channel addressing rider’s questions about speed, endurance, strength nutrition, biomechanics, and stretching and soft tissue maintenance. Please visit coachrobb.com to subscribe to his newsletter and learn more about various resources for riders. You can follow him on Twitter: @MotoCoachRobb and on Facebook: Coach Robb.

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