The Importance of Cardiovascular Training in Motocross Athletes

We often receive funny looks when we tell people that we work with motorsports athletes. It isn’t something many would think about if they have never raced a motocross or ATV motocross event. It sounds simple, right? Twist the throttle, turn a couple of times, go through some rough stuff, and then over some jumps. So why would you need to be cardiovascularly fit? During a race, these athletes are not only taxing their bodies, maneuvering their bikes, and absorbing the roughness of the track, but their respiratory rate can be incredibly high, and their heart rate can see numbers in the upper 190s. If this were momentary, we would say that cardiovascular training is not as essential, but most motos can last 8-30minutes, making them the definition of an aerobic effort.

For a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, benefits are faster times, an improved FTP, or quicker pacing. For motorsport athletes, this improvement is slightly more difficult to quantify on the bike(motorcycle or ATV), but we see improvements in these four key areas:

  • Staying power: This is the most apparent result that athletes can see and quantify. They feel better during their Moto and most noticeably find that during their races, they become less fatigued in the final laps, ultimately allowing them to maintain more consistent lap times.
  • Mental clarity: When pushing your machine to its limits while your body is also near its limit, each decision you make is crucial. Being more cardiovascular fit has been shown to improve cognitive function. Whether passing a fellow racer, selecting a line, or even choosing when to brake, we want you to be at your best.
  • Reaction time: Riding at 50+ mph, side by side or wheel to wheel, a fraction of a second can be the difference between making a pass or being passed. Research repeatedly shows that athletes can work at a lower percentage of their VO2 max, and their response times are significantly better.
  • Heat acclimatization: A large number of races occur in the summer months. The benefits of cardiovascular training in the summer can include decreased time to onset of sweating, increased sweat rate, increased blood plasma volume, and much more.

All of these physical adaptations mean that you become more efficient at cooling, increasing your time to fatigue.

So, suppose you are a motocross athlete and are not focusing much on your cardiovascular fitness. In that case, we strongly encourage you to upgrade your engine to improve your race performance.

Maybe you are not sure how to do this correctly. We can help! Contact us to sign up for custom coaching with one of our experienced, professional coaches or sign up for our EDGE membership for motorsport-tailored training plans.

Early Summer Slump

Being headquartered in the South, we experience some of the harshest elements to train in, with high temperatures and humidity that will make you sweat just walking out the door. Over the years, we continue to notice that every season, after the “Spring” weather comes to an abrupt halt, we receive a great deal of feedback from athletes that their intervals become increasingly challenging to complete. If you experience this same feeling as summer temperatures set in for you, these are several things that you can and should do to help you have a great summer of training:

  • Decrease your intensity for two weeks – This time period of exercising in the heat will allow your body to acclimate to the change in temperature and cool more effectively. 

  • Make sure you consume more fluid – Part of the heat acclimatization process increases your blood plasma volume. If you are not pushing drink mix during training to allow your body to acclimate this will take longer.

  • Complete a new Field Test/Ramp Test – It may just be that due to the heat, your body is having to work harder to cool, and therefore your FTP has decreased slightly.

Remember, heat can be very dangerous when exercising and heat stroke is not something we want any athlete to experience. Listen to your body, stay on top of fluid consumption, and, if necessary, cut your workouts short and get out of the heat.

Learn From Your DNF

A DNF (Did Not Finish) can sometimes be hard to swallow. However, when you take a step back, sit down, and thoroughly analyze what happened, what could have been improved and how you can do better next time, you can turn a humbling experience into a great growing opportunity!

Learn how Coach Kristin Halley did just that!

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Do I Need to do Run Speed Work to Get Faster?

A common question we receive from runners is, “Don’t I need speed workouts to get faster?” It makes sense why we get this question so frequently. Many of the free training plans and club-organized training that you will see are using methods that originated from the 60’s and 70’s. In these plans you will usually find one day of speed work, one Tempo run day and a long run on the schedule. For athletes who are newer to running, or even those new to structured training, it is likely for them to see an improvement in fitness by doing this style of training. But for many, you will eventually reach a slowing rate of fitness improvement or even a plateau in your fitness.

With many of the training plans we create our goal is to optimize the rate at which our athletes will improve their fitness without risking their health. We do this by focusing more specifically on energy systems. What does that mean? It means we hit hard on a tighter range of intensities. This usually means that if we are doing speed work, we focus on speed work for a block and there may be multiple sessions in a week. If we are focusing on improving an athlete’s threshold pace, we focus on threshold paces to build an athlete’s ability to buffer waste byproducts while simultaneously improving their sustainable pace.

We do this because at its most basic perspective, training is about eliciting a stress on the body and then allowing the body to recover. By focusing on one specific energy system, we can elicit a greater response from that system without creating significant residual fatigue from other unfocused workouts. For many this can be quite a shock to them but after
several weeks of training it becomes apparent that the switch in training methodology works and months down the road, we find that athletes are at a completely different level than previously conceived.

Each of these intensities has its place, it’s the purpose and a great function to create a more well-rounded athlete but for many of us focusing on one facet of our running, threshold work in this instance, creates a much more efficient athlete and utilizes time more effectively.

Improve your running pace with one of our Custom Coaching Packages or an Edge Membership!

Losing Motivation? Set A New Kind of Goal

Coach Brady Irwin

As the future of endurance events continues to be unclear, its important to explore other types of goals that can positively impact your fitness and keep you motivated. Coach Brady shares his experience setting a unique goal for last month:

In the month of February, I set out to accomplish a fitness goal.  This was not like any of my previous personal fitness goals.  Power metrics were not a concern, percent improvement was not factored in and there was no event at the end of the block that was being considered.  This goal was focused on returning to a consistent routine with an overarching goal of increasing future training.  

My goal was simple: Increase consistency in my cycling routine by completing a minimum of 1 hour per day through the month of February.

In the years of helping athletes select goals and prepare for events, I have learned that it is important to challenge yourself but to also remember that life happens and reality needs to be factored in. Sometimes workdays get long, kids have events, motivation is low, weather sucks, or I have to travel. Because of that, I added an alternate way to meet my daily goal, not to make things easier, but to help increase efficacy. 

Alternate: If I was unable to ride for 1 hour, I could substitute a 5k run.

It sounds simple, but there were days that lacing up shoes and getting out the door was TOUGH… but knowing this option was there made things manageable.

Ultimately, the goal was accomplished and I was active every day except for one, where I found out I was potentially exposed to COVID-19. (I tested negative!)

Even though we are early in the month of March, I have found that creating this consistency in my activity has reinvigorated my desire to not only ride but also to train. It has even resulted in some improvements in fitness. Much like interval work and focused training, there are often carry-over benefits from simple goals like this one in other areas of our physiology and or personal life that are positively impacted. 

Curious about setting goals that aren’t event-focused? If you’re ready to get back into a routine, build base fitness, or simply explore new ways to approach you training, send us an email so we can chat with you about non-event goal setting!

Weighing-In on Weight Loss Goals

Post-Quarantine Weight

Fitness and endurance are not determined by the scale – people of all sizes and shapes train, race and achieve their goals every day. That said, losing weight can be a motivating objective and is on the minds of many after this year.

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