What is the best way to get good at cyclocross and have fun at the same time? Simple – race cyclocross – a lot! You’ll learn technique, skills and race strategy as you go.
But for those athletes who want to focus their efforts and manage their time, a good plan it to structure your cyclocross training week . But what does that look like? While training time, heart rate and power zones vary, a typical training week usually includes the following.
Monday – Off Recovery is equally as important as training. The recovery period is when fitness gains are made and you reap the benefits of the hard work you’ve done. Sleep, Stretching, Hydration, and Nutrition are the SSHNs of Recovery.
Tuesday – Hard Day with Efforts. Cyclocross races are very high intensity and extremely demanding. The racer is at or above lactate threshold for the entire race. As such, your training efforts need to prepare you for your cyclocross race, but not tax you either.
Wednesday – Tempo Ride. Also, a great day midweek to check your bike and bike parts. Replace broken bike parts and components and prep your bike for the race weekend ahead.
Thursday – Recovery or Skills day. Efficiency is Paramount. A great racer is not only fit, but also smooth and efficient. The energy saved through skilled bike handling and smooth transitions on and off the bike directly translates into a faster race pace. So, if you’re struggling with the technical aspects of ‘cross (barriers, runups, transitions on and off the bike, general bike handling), take the time each week to practice these skills until they become second nature during a race.
Friday – Travel Day and/ or Openers. The goal of the day is to “prime the engine” for the weekend. Intervals are meant to sharpen, not fatigue.
Saturday/ Sunday – Game ON! Race day! Good reminders to keep in mind on race day. Leading up to your race, it’s important to stay dry. Yet, during your race, keeping your hands and feet warm are critical. Opt for cold weather gloves and booties and shoe covers to keep your hands and feet warm. If you tend to have cold feet, opting for warmer socks may help too. While hard core racers opt to keep their clothing to a minimum, others opt for a few extra comforts including knee warmers, arm warmers, and hats. Once you have finished your race, it’s important to get undressed and get warm. You may consider bringing a few trash bags to stow your cycling kit, cycling shoes, helmet, gloves, socks, and anything else that is soaked and muddy. Also, it’s also a good idea to have on hand your favorite post race nutritional product.
Overall, have fun! Cyclocross is a sport meant to be fun, otherwise, there wouldn’t be beer handoffs, money pits, crowds heckling the pros, or pros heckling the crowd. Unless you’re aiming for World Cup titles, there’s no reason to take this sport too seriously. Train, race hard, but above all, remember that it’s supposed to be fun.