A Comprehensive Cyclocross Plan to Take You Right Into Nationals

July 3, 2021
cyclocross training plan for nationals

Three Things to Know When Planning Your Cross Season

  1. Build into the season with endurance, skills practice, and threshold work.
  2. Each week of the race season, do one endurance session and one short, hard interval session (which may be a race).
  3. Focus on recovery, strength training, and yoga throughout the season.

comprehensive cyclocross planA Comprehensive Cyclocross Plan to Take You Right Into Nationals

Training for and then racing a full cyclocross season is a bit of a challenge for scheduling. 

Once the season starts, racing and recovery takes up most of your time. 

However, if you stop training too soon, you’ll lose the fitness you need for the end of the season. 

And if you train too much, you’ll burn out and never make it to the end. 

Training Peaks Cyclocross Season-Long Program

I created a cyclocross training plan on Training Peaks that is essentially my plan for the season. 

I’m going to pick and choose my races carefully from the Wisconsin and Chicago schedules.

Then I’m going to try and do a bit of a peak for Wisconsin states, Midwest regionals, then the national championships. 

Then again, maybe I won’t! 

I’m going to focus on having as much fun as possible this season, wherever that takes me! 

Two-Part Comprehensive Cyclocross Training Plan

The cyclocross season essentially has two parts –  or three depending on how you look at it. 

The first part is the pre-season, the second is the race season, and, if you’re going long, the third is the championship season. 

Putting the training pieces together is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle that depends on your race schedule. 

The pre-season features a lot of base endurance work, specific cyclocross skills work, and some threshold endurance intervals. 

The race season is a combination of racing, recovery, plus getting in endurance and interval days when possible. 

Yoga recovery and strength training are always a part of the comprehensive cyclocross plan. 

The Pre-Season Cyclocross Training Plan

Essentially, the pre-season is a several-month build. 

Some of you are racing on the road, gravel, or mountain bikes during the summer. 

So your training will be different. 

If you’re racing, you will be focusing on cyclocross skills, as many endurance rides as you can, and building threshold power and capacity when you’re not racing. 

I’m not doing a specific summer race program, so my pre-season comprehensive cyclocross plan looks like this:

  • One long endurance day (three to five hours. I like doing long rides! Three hours is plenty.)
  • One short endurance day. 
  • Two interval days that can be done on the same day as the short endurance days or the strength training days. If you’re racing, the races are your intervals. The intervals might also be the cyclocross skills practice.
  • Two strength training days, one of which can be a yoga strength day. 
  • At least two yoga recovery sessions. 
  • One run. As the season gets closer, we’ll add some stairs or speed work into the runs. The run practice, though, is mostly for running efficiency. If you want to run more, please do! 

The In-Season Plan

The in-season cyclocross training plan depends entirely on your race schedule. 

  • If you are racing both Saturday and Sunday, then your week will be two strength training days, at least two yoga recoveries, easy cross skills, and a short endurance. Mostly you’ll be recovering. 
  • If you are racing just one day on the weekend, you’ll add a longer endurance day, perhaps with intervals or cross practice. 
  • If you are not racing, you’ll do two interval sessions, which may include your cross practice. 

What’s the Most Important Workout?

The most important workout during the cross season is recovery, especially if you’re racing a lot. 

Cross racing takes a lot out of our bodies. 

It’s red-lining the whole race with a lot of jumps and running. 

If you’ve ever traveled to a race, done a full weekend, then traveled home, you know the meaning of the hashtag #crosshangover. 

The words have nothing to do with alcohol, and everything to do with feeling completely beat up. 

Do You Need a Coach? 

Need? No. 

Should have? Probably. 

What I do as a coach during a client’s cross season is monitoring training load to make sure they are getting enough training stimulus and enough recovery. 

We walk a tight rope of loading training stress with the right amount of recovery. 

And we want to build, then maintain fitness until the very end. 

If you want to work with me, we’ll use this comprehensive cyclocross plan as an outline and adapt to your racing and life schedule. 

It’s easy to get cooked during a cross season. 

I’ve known a lot of riders who come into states burned out and sick of racing. 

Cross is the most fun you can have on two wheels and should be a blast. 

If you race too much or recover too little, cross can get tedious. 

Hiring a coach can make the process a little easier!

Let’s talk

Contact me to ask questions and talk more about making your cyclocross season your best ever!

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