Success leaves clues. If you want to be among the best in a field the best way forward is to look at what the top performers do and mimic them until you make it.
Looking at racing sports one big thing stands out to me – the top performers are incredibly fit. Let’s look at some motorbike and car racers and see:
Mark Webber – hosts his own 5 day adventure race. he used to complete the entire thing, but now skips some sections due to injury risk after a mountain bike accident left him with a broken leg and shoulder only weeks before the start of the season.
Fernando Alonso – spends a lot of training time on swimming, riding and running along with playing other sports to stay fresh like table tennis, soccer as well as coordination and agility drills.
Nico Rosberg – rides and runs along with performing core, reflex and coordination drills.
Ben Bostrom – completes Ironman triathlons.
Mick Doohan – trained with former triathlon world champion Miles Stewart during his dominant years and actually had an exercise bike on his private jet so he could train even when flying to races.
Troy Bayliss – fanatical cyclist. Has even said that if he wasn’t a professional motorbike racer he’d have liked to be a professional cyclist.
Jenson Button – came 4th at Oceanside 70.3 only weeks ago, actually qualifying for the world 70.3 championships (too bad that’s an F1 race weekend).
This all shows me one thing – physical fitness is a prized quality for those who wish to go fast. The favored way forward is a multi-pronged approach to avoid overuse of a single pattern and help develop the kind of all round total fitness that high stress racing places on the body. I find it very interesting that these guys are essentially training for triathlon as their fitness training. It’s no coincidence that I’ve recently gone down this path too and am using triathlon as the basis for our Zombie Apocalypse program.
The fitness world has gone mad over the last few years on HIIT and how you can use a bare minimum of training to get massive results. Unfortunately it’s hogwash. There is no hack or short cut to real useful fitness though. I’ve seen many times what happens when people think their thirty minute HIIT workout of complexes and a couple of intervals will get them through a real challenge. They fall short.
Real fitness and strength take time to develop. Even if you start early in life and never get out of shape it takes years and is a lifelong process. If you’ve sat on the couch for twenty years and now want to “get in shape” at age forty it’s certainly not going to be an overnight process. And if developing a useful, athletic body capable of displaying many different aspects of fitness is your goal then you’re going to need to treat it that way. Many people come to me and say they’re serious about getting in shape. Serious, that is, until I tell them it means training daily and often twice a day. Serious until I talk to them about diet and alcohol. Three sessions per week and a hit and miss diet isn’t going to make you fit.
Take a leaf out of the books of pros – treat fitness as a serious pursuit, as if it were a second job and watch the rest of your results come with it. Extra aerobic fitness will give you many benefits for the rest of your life. There is a very good reason why most elite athletes begin their training plans with base fitness – because it causes long lasting adaptations that allow you to build more strength and speed later on. Anaerobic work is like the icing on the cake and aerobic base layers are the cake. Unless you fancy eating the icing out of a bowl you need to get some cake first. In addition to the many fitness benefits that this kind of base training gives you’ll find that your brain is clearer and you’re more resistant to fatigue – very important skills in racing and the rest of your life.