In the off-season, training both on and off of the bike is crucial for the riders that are desperately trying to grab that elusive British Championship title. The training regime in the off-season is so gruelling that once the season is in full swing, the amount of training that is done is actually a little less! Riders and trainers tend to keep the details of their programs throughout the winter under wraps, so most fans never really get an insight into the amount of work a top rider puts in. However, here is a bit of an insight into the type of program our riders face in the long cold winter months.
Recently signed Suzuki GB rider Graeme Irwin put it best when he said, “I’m a strong believer in; you only get out what you put in.” It goes back to the saying; championships are either won or lost in the off-season, which is a theory most riders believe in. Although some may think that riders get the opportunity to sit back and relax at this time of the year, it’s when the work really begins. Of course, there is time to regroup ahead of the following year. But, by mid-November both Irwin and Revo Talon Kawasaki rider Nathan Parker are right in the midst of their off-season training schedule. Whilst Irwin focuses on his physical fitness in the initial stages of his preparation, Parker chooses to focus on both his endurance and strength until after the New Year.
Nathan explains the initial stages of his winter training program, “winter training usually starts mid-November with cycling and running long distances. I also have S&C (strength and conditioning) training, which I go to three times a week. We work on all aspects of fitness, power, strength, balance, cardio, and speed.” He continues, “So from November it’s all about endurance and strength until after the New Year.” It really is interesting to distinguish the differences in the routines of the two riders, as Irwin’s program does differ slightly: “I have two trainers. One is for all my cardio work and the other is for all of my stretch training. I train six days a week normally twice a day in November and December, but doing this style of training means you must eat the right food and take all your supplements to keep your body healthy.”
Already it’s evident that the workload that comes in the latter months of the year is intense, in my opinion it is often underrated just how much the riders train to achieve their goal. You may have noticed that at this point there is no talk of training on the bike, which might seem strange to some. Surely for the riders to be at their best, they need to be pounding out the laps on a consistent basis? Some riders do choose to take this approach, however for both Irwin and Parker riding comes further into their program. Irwin explains, “By January I start to do a lot of riding, normally three times a week. The days I ride I would run forty-five minutes before or cycle two hours depending on the weather then I’d head to the track and normally do three thirty minute moto’s depending on my speed or how my body feels.”
The experience Parker has garnered over the course of his career has enabled him to set out a training program that meets his needs as a rider; one where he himself can determine whether he is on the right track or not. “I haven’t done any fitness tests because I know my body and I know where it is when I start and where it is by the time the season comes around” he explained. Alternatively, Irwin does do a few fitness tests to help track his progress. The Irishman stated, “I do a blood and fitness test every six weeks to keep an eye on every thing to make sure I’m always improving.”
So many times we have seen a young rider over train throughout the early stages of their career, which does eventually leave them burnt out. However, it does seem as though Graeme Irwin has found a way to combat this ever-present problem. “I do all my training with a heart rate monitor; I take a reading of my resting heart rate every morning so that if it is four or five beats higher than normal, that tells me that I need a day of rest” he explained.
So, both riders have specified what goes on off the bike prior to the New Year, but what about when the season opener is closing in? “I then start more intense sessions and work on high heart rates over shorter period of times (thirty- one hour)” Parker explains. It’s not just the traditional training methods that Nathan completes, however. “I also like to play squash, swim and also cross-country cycling.” From the information both riders provided us with, it is quite obvious that the off-season is most certainly not a time in which professional riders can rest; despite that being what the name may insinuate for some.
When the season does eventually start in the March of 2013, the training done does tend to change slightly, as Nathan explains. “Once the season starts then a lot less intense training is needed. I still do S&C but focus more on cycling and endurance training” stated the Revo Talon Kawasaki rider. Although the training programs may seem strict, it is a common necessity for all riders to have a structure similar to this behind them. The training regimes both Irwin and Parker commit too throughout the off-season ensures that when the first gate drops on the 2013 season, they will be ready. Just like Irwin mentioned at the top of this article, “you only get out what you put in”.
Words by Lewis Phillips
A big thank you to Graeme Irwin @graemeirwin (follow him on twitter)
and Nez Parker @nezparker (follow him on instagram) and his team on twitter @revotalon