BUILDING LUNGS YOU CAN LIVE WITH
Jeff Stanton, Jeff Ward, John DeSoto, Mark Barnett, Johnny O’Mara. Sure, they all were fast, but they also were riders who knew the value of training. Basically that’s true of almost any rider who made an impact on the sport. On the other hand, the history of motocross is full of riders who had the speed and the skill, but didn’t have the endurance. They are the riders who won races, but never won championships.
Motocross requires strength, endurance, flexibility and, most important of all, quick thinking. When you get tired, all of these areas suffer. Even your brain can be starved for oxygen, just like your muscles. When that happens, you become a danger to yourself and everyone on the track. When you are in shape, you start off healthier and you stay healthier, because you are less likely to fall and hurt yourself. However, you don’t have to devote your entire life to training to get in shape. All it takes is a routine, a schedule that you keep automatically. Some people think that a training routine is hard to start. The truth is that once you build it into your life, training is hard to stop. Bob Hannah still runs every day. Many retired racers do.
THE MAIN EVENT
In order to become a good motocrosser, you don’t have to become a world-class runner, cyclist, soccer player and weightlifter all rolled into one. You simply have to find one training means that you like and make it the mainstay of your program. It would be great if you could make motocross your only form of training, but that’s not practical for most people. By the time you load up, drive somewhere and get dressed, you could have run ten miles. You also would rack up a tremendous bill in tires and equipment. Even if you have an unlimited budget and a track in your backyard, you still have to do something else for training or you will get sick of motorcycles.
So find one form of training you can live with. You can and should break it up with other workouts, but concentrate on something like running, cycling or swimming. I always preferred running for several reasons. For one thing, you don’t need anything but shoes. When you are on the road, staying in hotels, you can still be true to your running program, whereas you might have long breaks if you don’t have a bike or a pool handy. Running also strengthens more muscles than any other single activity–and it’s easy to measure your progress. If you get your workout playing racquetball, for example, it’s hard to know if you worked harder than last time. When you run, you can keep track of time and distance and always know how well you are doing.
Whatever your chosen activity, you have to approach it in an organized fashion. Once again, you need goals. I’ll use running as an example. A good program can include two 30-minute workouts and two 40-minute workouts in a week. Start off running every other day. It’s okay if you can’t run for the entire 30 minutes right off the bat. Alternate running with walking. Once you are running the entire time, try to go a little faster and cover more distance in the same amount of time. I promise you, as long as you keep your goals in mind, it will never get boring.
Every so often you can try a longer run, maybe over an hour. You don’t have to do that on a regular basis, however, unless you are training for a marathon. The average moto is 20 to 30 minutes long, so running longer than that won’t be very effective. Instead, you can up your personal ante by going faster.
A light workout the day after a race is a good idea to relieve soreness and recuperate. Remember, running is a very efficient form of exercise. Other forms, such as cycling, require more time to get the same level of workout. How do you know if your workout is long enough? Either you are moving toward your goals or you aren’t. You’ll figure it out.
Running, cycling and swimming all have one thing in common. They use a limited range of muscular movement. That means that the muscles involved get tighter and tighter, and pretty soon you find that you can’t comfortably move through your full range of motion. When that happens, you lose flexibility and injuries are more likely.
The solution is to stretch before and after your workout. Look at stretching as a program in itself. Spend some time doing it-a good ten minutes at least. Every movement involves at least two muscle groups-one extending and another contracting. Pay attention to both groups. Slowly stretch the muscle to the limit of its range, and hold it there for about ten seconds, then slowly return. Don’t bounce or jerk; that’s how injuries occur. Repeat the process several times. Take note of your range of motion and try to gauge your improvement.
Weights are a good way to augment your program. They shouldn’t be your entire program by any means, though. Lifting weight increases strength, but it’s very difficult to build endurance that way. Still, you can target your weakness effectively with a weight program. If your legs get tired in a race, work on your legs. Just like your stretching program, you have to work on the opposing two sets of muscles–if you have just done an exercise that involves extending your arms, then switch to one that involves curling.
Don’t worry about lifting your maximum, Start with a smaller load and adjust it until you can barely do three sets of 15 repetitions. If you can’t do at least eight in the last set, lower the load.
Whether you run, stretch, lift weights or do all three, the most important thing is to stick with it and just worry about one day at a time. Like anything else in life, the hardest part is deciding you are going to do it. After that, it gets easier.