Stan Bradbury's Speedway Training Notes
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In the history of pro-speedway since 1926, one strong pattern has emerged in the post-war world. Top riders are usually short, lightweight persons with excellent stamina and in good physical shape. There are a few exceptions to this tendency, for example, Michael Lee, the 1980 Speedway and 1981 Longtrack World Champion, was over six feet tall but was of very light and wiry build, but had lots of stamina and in good physical shape. Bigger or heavier riders such as the famous Barry Briggs were exceptions, certainly, but they were only larger than the average top rider and were only of average size compared to the population as a whole.
Large, heavily built riders should be not discouraged by this, I only said "top" riders not "average" or even "better than average." In these groups, the exception becomes less uncommon and in the past, big riders have been able to enjoy a successful career, particularly on the small California style "Mini Tracks."
It is to the advantage of all riders to be as light as possible without sacrificing health and stamina. There is no point in drilling light alloy engine plates full of holes to a point of weakness if the rider himself could shed far more weight from his body by careful diet and exercise. The most important time to begin such, a training program is in the early part of the closed season.
Many people find it difficult to discipline themselves into taking exercise and dieting, so considerable thought should be given to making the process as pleasant as possible. As I said earlier, it is during the closed season when the problem should be tackled as this is when we are the least active. During the summer months we are usually active enough, even without riding, to stay in reasonably good shape.
The best way for myself to stay in shape was to play a sport in the winter, such as badminton. There are a whole variety of activities that individuals may prefer, such as, racquetball, squash, indoor tennis, swimming, volleyball, basketball, skating, etc., to name just a few.
Jogging, skiing, etc., may be fine but you cannot always participate regularly due to weather, availability, etc., so keep that in mind.
There is all kinds of information available "now-a-days" on the subject of diet, health and exercise, by experts, so there is no point in further advice being offered by myself.
Smoking and drinking of large volumes of liquids (alcoholic or otherwise) should be avoided, as should fat-producing foods.
Before and during a race meeting (particularly during hot weather) your intake of fluids should be limited to the replacement of fluid lost by perspiration which is not usually a great deal. It may be fine to say this to a rider who has just arrived back in the pits after a most energetic race and is gasping for a drink. In this case it is wise to rinse out your mouth with water and spit it out before swallowing a small amount. You will find that this satisfies your needs just as well as gulping down large quantities of liquid and it will avoid a large volume of water in the stomach which would require large amounts of blood and oxygen to digest, leaving the rest of your body with insufficient blood and oxygen to perform at its best. You may have notices hockey players and boxers follow this rinse and spit-out method of cooling down before swallowing small quantities of liquid.
Same applies after the race meeting, avoid large volumes of liquid such as pop, water or beer. Both pop and beer will make the average person gain weight at an enormous rate and excess weight is never a plus factor under any circumstances in Speedway. One or two beers consumed slowly over a reasonably period of time should satisfy even the most prodigious thirst and no one can still truthfully say they are still thirsty after two beers. If they do, they are confusing thirst with the fact that they just honestly enjoy the taste and that, unfortunately, will become a disadvantage to that rider.
Food intake should also be closely watched. Heavy meals shortly before racing are a "no-no" and any food should be consumed well before racing so that it is completely digested. Differed foods take longer to digest so if you are going to eat a steak, do it several hours before racing. Meals high in carbohydrates are recommended for sports where a high energy output is required. Spaghetti, bread, potatoes, sugar, etc., all are high in carbohydrates and pro-hockey players often eat a substantial amount at lunchtime then take a nap before playing a night-time game. Some riders find they become very hungry before a race meeting which apparently can be caused by otherwise invisible nervous tension. Their best plan is to snack on foods high in sugar or glucose such as chocolate bars, candy, pop, "Gatorade," etc., as long as it is not done to excess. Sugar (glucose) is the only form of energy food digested directly through the walls of the stomach, so, in a little over 2O minutes such carbon and carbohydrates can be taken into the blood and supply energy to the muscles. All carbohydrates foods are fattening (high in calories) so it is unwise to eat them to excess, but as the purpose of stocking up the body on carbohydrates is in preparation for a high energy output, they are burned up harmlessly and even some weight loss after an event, is normal. If the meeting is rained out, better do some energetic exercise to burn off all those calories or they will turn into fat.
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