By Seiji Ishii | Photo by Shan Moore
Note: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of www.coachseiji.com, which provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Andrew Short, Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Matt Lemoine, Hunter Hewitt, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Drew Yenerich, Rusty Potter and Jason Anderson. You can contact Coach Seiji directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also recently opened a CrossFit affiliate in Bastrop, Texas (www.crossfitstrive.net). In this article, Seiji outlines some Pro Training Secrets for the weekend warrior:
Lesson #1: Concept of the Limiter
Identifying the most effective use of your scarce training time
Motorsports athletes are often single-minded in their pursuit of racing goals: they take a never-say-die attitude and push their bodies to the limit in training with seemingly endless determination and grit. But the reality is both professional athlete and weekend warrior alike have real world restrictions that must be considered when planning and executing their training programs. The professional athlete is restricted by the energy available to train and recover. The weekend warrior is held back by their available training time. Both of these athletes can benefit from focusing their training efforts in particular areas called limiters. A limiter is a skill, a physical or mental ability, a lifestyle or health habit or any other aspect that is the weakest point in the program and thus becomes the factor that is holding back overall ability. Part of training smarter instead of just harder is identifying your limiters and planning training to address them, a key component of periodization.
The athlete should do the least amount of the most specific training that brings continual improvement. Your own program can become more effective if you do an honest self-appraisal of all the aspects that relate to your performance and training. Almost anything can become a limiter to your progression as a dirt bike rider. When you search for your own limiters, categorize items into the following groups:
Technical riding skills: tight woods, tight turns, slow turns, flat turns, sand whops, rocky ledges, loose dirt riding, ruts, body positioning, etc. Any specific riding related skill or ability.
Cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, riding specific endurance, injuries, etc. Any physical ability or aspect of conditioning that can be improved through effective training.
Performance anxiety, social acceptance anxiety, practice mindset vs. race mindset, ability to focus, motivation, etc. Any mental component of performance or training.
Diet, sleeping habits and patterns, illnesses, allergies, unhealthy lifestyle habits, etc. This is a very wide category and can encompass activities of daily living.
You should be able to identify between two to three specific limiters in each of the above categories. List each of these limiters in the order of severity, how negatively each affects your overall riding performance. Now think about the categories and list them also in the order of severity. What you should end up is a list of eight to twelve specific limiters broken into four categories with the categories also listed in order of severity. Here is an example of the process:
Dirt Bike Dave is an aspiring intermediate rider. His training is haphazard at best as he simply wakes up, calls his riding buddies and does what they are doing or just does what he feels like doing himself. He lives on the east coast so often times rides damp, rutted trails so he excels at GNCC style races that have rutted sections and good traction. His general aerobic conditioning is often lacking so he rarely rides durations longer than 15 minutes in practice; instead he likes to race past his buddies in the woods and pulls off whenever he feels any fatigue at all. Since he is good at ruts, he likes to hammer sections repeatedly trying to see how far over he can lay his bike. He rides mountain bikes on occasion and strength trains a few times per week, again randomly putting his program together when he gets to the gym. Although he seems to flounder through strength training sessions his overall strength compared to others is naturally high. His “training” over the course of the year is inconsistent due to long winter weather and occasional back injuries caused by lack of core strength and inflexibility. His health habits are average for a teenager of 16 years old but below average for an aspiring athlete. He eats fast food, sometimes goes all day without eating at all, and stays up late a few times a week doing nothing in particular. He sometimes has a lack of motivation to train at all simply from being tired from staying up so late. He is still enrolled in high school so he only really has about 10 hours a week to dedicate in total to training. At races Dirt Bike Dave often lacks focus because he seems to spend as much attention to hanging out with his friends as his racing. He is calm at the start and doesn’t get nervous but seems to lack the aggressive attitude that might be expected from a hungry competitor.
Skill limiters: Hard packed trails, Flat sweepers, Turn exits in loose conditions
Physical limiters: Riding endurance, Back injuries, General cardiovascular conditioning:
Mental limiters: Focus at races, Aggression during races, Motivation to train (but most likely caused by lifestyle habits)
Lifestyle/Health limiters: Nutrition, Sleep habits, Limited training time
The above list of limiters for Dirt Bike Dave is only an example; many more limiters could be listed but for this article we will limit the discussion to these. The categories are listed in the order Dirt Bike Dave feels is the order of severity of effect on his overall program. So in this example the Skill Limiters are the most limiting in his progress as a racer (which I think will fit most readers of Dirt Rider). Using the limiter list Dave would be best served by spending a higher proportion of his available training time and energy on his skill limiters, especially working in hard packed trail conditions. He should then spend the next highest proportion of his available time on riding endurance; then mentally work on focus at races and improve his nutrition. If more time becomes available Dave should work on flat sweepers, work on his core strength (to fix his back injuries), mentally work on race aggression and improve his sleep habits. The more time becomes available for training, the further down the limiter list he can progress.
Following this procedure yourself will give you very specific training goals in the most effective order of attack. Knowing which limiter you have to work on should give you a goal for each training session; a specific focus of your energy and time. If done correctly, your limiter list changes as the season progresses and hopefully the current limiters become your strengths and the things you were good at become your limiters. This means your overall riding ability just took a huge leap forward.
Just looking at the results of an honest self-analysis written on paper should shine a guiding light on where you should be spending your training efforts and available time. It’s not rocket science but unless instructed many riders will never identify their limiters. They will more than likely repeatedly reinforce the things they are already good at and almost ignore the actual things that are holding back their progress as a well-rounded rider.