I am using TR for a very similar purpose, although in my case it is Motorcycle Road Racing;
A few things I have been considering:
- There is some good studies on heart rate data in a race setting on motocross riders
-The main take-away was basically from the drop of the gate, to the checkered flag, heart rate was pretty well pegged between 90-95% of the individual riders MAX HR.
-So when speaking about HR, this is going to mean the entirety of the event is spent above your ‘threshold’ HR.
What I have noticed on the track using TR in this regard;
By training my aerobic system up to the point where 20 min sweet spot intervals no longer kill me (a level of output that usually has me above my threshold HR) I have the ability to spend more time thinking about race-craft, and less time “focusing” on hanging onto/ controlling the bike.
For example, coming out of a corner, I don’t have to “focus” so much on my breathing and actively relaxing all the tension that is building in the various muscle groups so I am nice and loose going into the next corner; that all comes easier, and I can spend more time focusing on sighting my braking/ turning points and sensing who is around me, who is ahead of me, how I want to plan my line for the next section coming up, etc.
My ability to even think about in-race tactics has been improved significantly by just building up a “wide” aerobic base, getting my body very used to doing a moderate level of “work” without having to ‘focus’ on the work being done.
- How is energy (watts) used on the race-track, and how can that be matched to TR work-outs.
-So, first, lets start with the basics:
Every straight-away or reasonably straight section between segments is a “valley” (relatively low watts).
Every obstacle/ jump/ corner is “work” that has to be done (relatively high watts).
Now think of the time component;
Comparing this to a TR workout:
Consider one heat, or one main as basically a single TR workout. Each lap of that heat/main is a single interval in that workout. Each interval (each lap) is comprised of a set of repeats (think sprint intervals, or over-unders).
The straight-away is the recovery valley between intervals.
Inside of each lap you have X number of corners/ obstacles, each one of these is a section of work, the time between them is a valley of relatively less work (visually, a set of over-unders probably best represents how energy is used around the race-track on a given lap)
Each one of those obstacles represents a required burst of power, and that power must be recruited FAST (at 60mph the entire dynamic event of negotiating a corner/ jump/ section of whoops may take less than a couple seconds. (a lot of times crashes happen when your brain plans to move the bike in a specific way, and the muscles just cant react quick enough to follow the CORRECT command from the brain, I.E. a signal from your brain to stiffen your leg, and the MUSCLE RECRUITMENT just doesn’t happen fast enough).
So when we consider the time component of these sections of “work” that happen negotiating the race-track we can see that they:
A. Are by their nature HIGH WATT events, think V02Max/ Anaerobic Zone
B. Happen fast, with a very short time component (the watts have to be recruited VERY fast; the faster you want to negotiate a given corner, on the same line: the faster you have to recruit the muscles involved in negotiating that corner)
C. Have VERY LITTLE recovery time between them within the context of a single lap.
So, in order to race a bike around a track you must be able to:
Generate anaerobic levels of power output near instantaneously for very short duration’s, over and over again with equally short duration’s between bursts.
And we have to be able to do ‘sets’ of those kinds of efforts over and over again with a very short 5-10 second recovery valley, called the ‘straight-away’.
None of the sections of recovery will be enough to let your heart rate fall lower than 90% of your max HR, generally speaking.
So NOW, we have the ability to relate the power demands of a given race-track, and race event (how many heats, how many laps per heat, how many laps in the main, etc.) to how we generate watts on the bike.
As I can see it, there are a few KEY focal areas:
Base AEROBIC Endurance - for obvious reasons, and those mentioned first, cultivating that aerobic base will NOT be wasted time, guaranteed.
Base MUSCLE Endurance - you rightly noted the importance of this, and as we analyze the power demands on the race-track it becomes clear, you are doing a LOT of anaerobic repeats over the course of a single race event. Combine that with multiple heats, A/B mains, and you can see how important the ability to REPEAT anaerobic efforts (with very little recovery) becomes.
Muscle Recruitment - I think what we really need to focus on, in terms of “specialty” is muscle recruitment. Said another way; the ability to get the most amount of muscle fibers involved in a given movement as QUICKLY as possible.
Time Component - Compared to “Endurance” sports our events are rather short in nature. The VAST majority of motorcycle racing is going to see a single session complete in anywhere from 12-45 minutes. So, training to be able to complete a 4-6 hour ride on the trainer probably isn’t going to do you any favors on the motocross bike.
Given ALL of the above, an ideal training progression begins to emerge
So far, I am doing this:
Sweet Spot Base 1 then 2 -I do Mid Vol- (Aerobic Base/ Strength Endurance +preping for Sprint Work)
Short Power Build -I do Mid Vol- (Muscle Recruitment/ Strength Endurance)
Criterium Specialty -I do Mid Vol- (Race Specific Endurance)
A quote from the Criterium Specialty Plan description:
“You’ll face workouts that grow increasingly crit-like in their demands by furthering your ability to generate high watts for short periods of time, over & over & over again with little & sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it recovery durations.”
^Sounds like motorcycle racing to me!
Hope it helps!