Welcome back to my coaches blog for the second installment. Thanks for all the positive feedback from my first blog titled “self sabotage in the preseason” that you can read here Blog #1: Self Sabotage in the preseason
So let’s get to the topic of this weeks blog;
“THE IMPORTANCE OF RACE SIMULATION IN TRAINING”
- Disclaimer: Please take note of the sarcasm in this article and the fact it is all in good fun. This article should be educational to everyone reading but give you a smile at the same time.
There’s really a couple of things that got me thinking about this blog title which I will elaborate on and how people need to understand what exactly race simulation is, when it is appropriate for your rider and why it is so important. Let’s start out by what my two definitions of what simulation training is;
Definition 1; “Conditions Simulation”
Conditions simulation requires a rider to be training on a track providing similarities to an upcoming race event in the following areas; Dirt or sandy loam, roughness/types of bumps, jumps and terrain such as hills, off cambers etc (both for physical, technique improvement and skill, endurance and bike set up). Also geographical location for temperature helping in physical endurance adaptation (humidity as an example).
Definition 2: “Race competition simulation”
Race competition simulation requires a rider to be training before an event under a structured program providing him/her with simulated race distance moto’s each time he is on the track (example; three lap practice warm up and three fifteen minute plus 1 lap motos) or competition drills with riders of a similar riding ability completing group starts, group passing, first lap simulations, sprint laps and sections.
Now hopefully that makes sense to everyone as sometimes I try to use big words to make myself sound important!
This leads me to what really got me thinking about this blog topic and that is the Daytona Supercross in America this coming weekend and more specifically the training facilities on the east coast of America building “Daytona Sx” tracks for the one week leading into the event. Bakers Factory, MotoX Compound, MTF, Club Mx.. the list go’s on and they have ALL spent thousands of dollars destroying and moving around a perfectly good Supercross track to create Daytona style obstacles and sandy conditions. They will have to put the track back to normal for the week of training after Daytona and all this effort and money is only for three to four days of riding before the race event!!
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Now you would think the best Supercross riders in the world could adapt to one little sandy supercross on the fly right? I mean how hard can it be to navigate stadium whoops, triples and rhythm sections at a much higher speed, with foot peg deep ruts and limited vision due to roost and evening lighting outside?! It’s not like there’s literally thousands of dollars to six figure financial incentives to make sure a rider makes the main event, does well and does not jeopardize his championship position…? ok I’m done with my sarcasm for this article! Here come some facts!
The truth is Daytona may be the ONLY race of it’s kind in the Supercross series, therefore the training facilities, teams and riders ensure they give it the respect that it deserves by training all week in the closest possible simulated conditions to what they will be competing in on Saturday night. This allows the riders to adapt to new suspension settings and be ready to attack obstacles from the first lap of practice. (for anyone who has been to a Supercross in America you will know the riders pretty much jump every rhythm and triple first lap). The conditions and race simulation training is something the teams, riders and training facilities have no issue investing big money into as they know the rewards it can bring in regards to race results and furthermore the drama’s it can help avoid through poor results, crashes and mechanical issues.
Conditions simulation and race simulation training is designed for one reason. To have riders feeling comfortable functioning under high levels of stimulation close to the same as a race event. This is repeated day in and out whilst maintaining solid riding technique and race craft. Everything from a rider being able to withstand pressure with a rider behind him at max speed, to a heart rate in the Anaerobic plus HR zones for 30 minutes are stepping stones to achieving a race day feeling like “another day in the office”. Some of the best riders in the 450 class right now are Dungey, Musquin and Anderson. Not so coincidentally they train together every day they are not at the races. Their training routine with Aldon Baker puts them at such a high level of output, speed and stimulation that race day is literally no different to a training day at Bakers factory. (see above images thanks to Transworld Motocross)
However training in this manner puts a higher risk into a riders coaching program, hence the practice injuries at the elite level of the sport and should only be used by riders at an appropriate level (more on that further down).
My point here is this; If this style of training is good enough for the BEST RIDERS IN THE WORLD, then shouldn’t it be used by racers of all levels?
My answer is of course yes; but to what degree can this relate to a local junior rider for example?
Well the second point that got me thinking about this blog is how many coaching companies (myself included here) advertise our race preparation camps to have riders ready to “attack the track” and be “race ready” and this relates directly to the question above. Conditions simulation training is suitable for even the most entry level junior racer. It makes sense that as a young rider track time on a venue close to (or even better the same one) that you are competing on will give you a mental advantage and confidence heading into the race event in not only your race abilities but your bike set up also.
As for Race simulation training, that is a different animal all together. I personally feel that group race simulation drills ( be it a sprint lap, passing or starts drill) only give a benefit to riders who have reached a technical riding ability that allows them to be able to consciously think about the benefits race drills provide without having to think about what they are doing on the bike. Essentially their basic riding skills need to be functioning at a instinctive level for them to be able to progress as a racer in these drills. Therefore I reserve these drills for our Junior Development team and the more advanced students we work with, determined not so much by age but by racing grade, experience and riding ability.
See this video with our advanced students working on group start drills at our latest Gippsland regional title prep camp at Maffra;
For everyone else that I coach privately or at our group coaching schools it is technique technique technique! Tech coaching drills suitable to the track conditions for upcoming race days combined with track time will lead to confidence and improved results on race day, guaranteed. However having kids on 50cc’s trying to block pass each other, or entry level riders cutting sprint laps whilst trying to maintain correct technique..? Well that’s probably not going to help them right now at this stage of their riding journey except by earning them a quick trip to the Hospital!
To conclude, there is a right time for riders to progress from technique based coaching to conditions and race simulation training. It is at a time when a rider has developed a solid and safe base riding style that as a coach we are able to build speed and race craft from. A good coach will make these calls and as parents or racers you need to respect that it is a safety concern for your rider. We want everyone to stay healthy and progress accordingly, that takes time and any good coach will tell you cannot build speed from poor riding technique, regardless of what race simulation drills we put your rider through, poor technique will always win resulting in crashing under pressure either in training or on race day.
Thanks for reading everyone, Don’t forget to share this post and tag your friends and look for my next coaches blog coming soon!