Building Champions Program’s Lee Hogan gives you his five keys to a successful weekend.
As we approach the half way point of the 2012 Monster Energy MX Nationals let’s take a look at five major key points that will have you perform to the best of your abilities in this latest edition of BCP Moto Coach.
Fitness and Bike Training
No matter how perfect your last minute preparation is, there is no substitute for your ‘off season’ preparation.
A well structured training program that includes skills work, fitness and intensity on the motorcycle, while also covering all aspects of your ‘off bike’ training such as cardio training, weights training and stretching is essential.
You also need to make sure that you factor in enough rest and recovery sessions mixed in with your hard training days to make sure that you aren’t overtraining. There is no worse feeling than arriving at the first race of a championship knowing that you haven’t done your homework.
Likewise, if you turn up at round one with a smile on your face knowing that your pre-season has been faultless you will be oozing with confidence when you line up next to your competitors for that first event.
Always remember, a lot of riders will get sick just before a new season starts because they bump up their training while dealing with extra stress and don’t listen to their body. A way to avoid this is to not leave the bulk of your training to the last minute.
There’s a bunch of different ways to prepare mentally for the start of a championship, but the main thing to remember in this area is that your brain is a muscle and responds to training just like the rest of your body. If you don’t exercise your mind it won’t get fitter and stronger.
The two main areas of your mental preparation should focus firstly on concentration and secondly on confidence. You can work on your concentration skills either on or off the motorcycle.
The main thing is to keep your mind focused on one subject, whether you are riding around a supercross track or cycling up a hill. Try not to let your mind wander off and when it does bring it back to where it should be. Nine times out of ten, when you see a rider crash out there on the track it is due to a momentary lapse in concentration.
On the subject of confidence, you will gain most of your confidence from you pre-season training and your most recent race results.
There are very few riders out there that can dig deep and find confidence in certain situations when they are in a bit of a slump and this is what separates the champions from the also-rans. If a rider is coming back from injury or a major crash they may be down on confidence.
If a rider expects to do well in a race but has a bad practice session or their bike is handling badly, this can also make you question yourself. All these areas are opportunities to dig deep and build on your base confidence level. Most riders can do well when they are confident but only the elite few can step up when the chips are down.
Diet and Nutrition
More and more emphasis nowadays is being placed on diet and nutrition when it comes to race day preparation. If you have a formula one race-car it needs to run on race fuel doesn’t it? Likewise if you have an old Holden Commodore it will run quite fine on regular pump fuel from your local petrol station.
With our bodies, if we want to perform at our best on race day we need to put good fuel in the tanks. Remember to eat for performance, not for taste.
Unfortunately most of your nice tasting foods are not what we should be having. Try to avoid the obvious ones. Fast foods such as McDonalds, KFC etc, fried goods such as your fish and chips, and foods high in sugar such as chocolate bars, fizzy drinks and donuts are all foods that are best left to non-athletes.
Make sure you get at least two litres of water into you per day and always start your day with a big, healthy breakfast. You can eat slightly more proteins early in the week to help the muscles heal and grow, then up the carbohydrates later in the week as we get closer to race day.
Let’s not forget that the body does most of its healing and recharging of the batteries while we are sleeping. Most people can get away with around 8 hours sleep but there is no exact amount of sleep that is perfect for everybody.
Certain people need nine to 10 hours of sleep and then there are others that struggle staying in bed for any longer than six to seven hours.
Kids tend to need a little bit more sleep than adults overall. Personally I run on around eight hours most nights but when I was racing I used to like to get nine hours sleep the night before an event. Any less than eight and I felt tired the next day, however if I got any more than 10 hours sleep I felt a bit vague from too much sleep.
For riders travelling constantly around the country, or world for that matter, it can take a while to get used to being in different beds and using different pillows so you might want to bring your own pillow with you.
Control those nerves
There are two different kinds of stress. Eustress and Distress! From an athletes point of view one of these are good and one is bad. Eustress is the kind of positive stress that makes people perform well under pressure.
I’m sure most of us have been in a predicament before where we have been nervous about a race and preformed extra well because of those nerves. That’s eustress! Distress is the complete opposite.
Distress is the debilitating stress that seems to cloud our judgement and lock us up, causing us to perform poorly and make bad decisions. You would be surprised how close these two types of stresses are to each other and how easily you can turn bad stress into good stress that will help you rise to the occasion.
The main thing is to realise that everybody gets nervous. Everybody’s heart rate rises when they are about to go into battle out there on the track. You just need to let that nervous energy heighten your senses rather than cloud them.
The more you learn to deal with these nerves the easier it will become. One of the best ways to deal with them is to remember when you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach that it is your body’s way of preparing you for competition rather than thinking that you are just nervous. Give it a try and you will notice a massive difference.