Three Positive Things About Training and Racing This Cyclocross Season
- I’ve finished every race! I haven’t had to DNF due to breathing problems.
- I had a great result at Red Granite Grinder to show my threshold capacity training is right on target. I’m doing alright in cross races even with minimal anaerobic training.
- I’m having a blast with announcing the Wisconsin cyclocross series races. It’s been big fun to talk cross with so many people.
We are mid-way through training for cyclocross season, so it’s time to take a moment to see how my training and racing are going.
To recap, I wasn’t going to race much this year.
My asthma has been worsening over the past dozen years, and I wasn’t able to enjoy racing cross because the intensity would start breathing issues.
But I’ve been doing a lot of work this year with practicing breathing, and that work is starting to pay off.
Announcing Wisconsin Races Has Been Big Fun
One of the best parts of this season has been regularly announcing at the Wisconsin cross races.
It’s been a hoot to tell stories of the races, from the beginners to the pros.
The kids, beginning women, and the older racers have been the most fun since I get to call out names and race strategies for people who may not have had that before!
An unexpected challenge, though, has been trying to race after a full day of announcing.
I’ve been trying to figure out fueling, finally settling – after rice cakes, fried rice, tacos, and other food – on simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the day, working the best to keep my glycogen stores topped off.
For regionals and nationals, I won’t be announcing, so I can rest and prepare properly.
Plus when I head to Chicago, it’s all about the cyclocross race.
What’s Next For Training for Cyclocross Season
For training for the rest of the season, I’m sticking with strength training twice a week.
It’s heavy weight, unilateral, but not many reps.
I teach three yoga classes a week to keep my joints moving.
If I race twice over the weekend, I’ll only do recovery rides and one long endurance ride during the week to keep my legs fresh.
If I’m only racing once, I’ll do one or two sessions of soccer field sprints.
Over the Thanksgiving break, I’ll do a mini-camp where I’ll do some longer rides along with some sprint training.
And then before states, regionals, and nationals, I’ll peak with less volume, minimal strength work, and the soccer field sprints.
Possible New Breathing Practice Class
I’m also really excited that I may have found someone to help me more with breathing practice.
I’m trying out a class or two this week with someone I found through the Oxygen Advantage.
While I’ve been practicing the methods in the book, I really need a coach to help me fully utilize what I’ve learned.
I’ll write more about this as we progress!
Racing a Full Season is Unexpected Treat
I decided to do more racing once I was successfully able to do some interval work this summer.
I’ve done nine races so far this season, and while a couple has caused some challenges, I’ve been able to finish all of them.
So I began training for the cyclocross season this summer.
Last Saturday, I finished the 86-mile Red Granite Gravel Grinder with third place in my age group and 18th overall.
So clearly, we’re on the right track.
This season has been an unexpected treat since I didn’t think I’d be racing at all!
Finding the Balance in Training for a Full Cyclocross Season
The biggest challenge has been finding my peak breathing capacity without going over.
I have plenty of power, but I’m very nervous about pushing too hard to cause the lungs or vocal cords to spasm.
I’ve been pushing that limit bit by bit but it’s still holding me back.
Plus, when I feel that tightness coming on, I start to panic a bit, which makes the breathing more challenging.
Training for this cross season has been a mix of learning to accept what I am able to do and be happy with what comes from that.
Best Race Has Been Trek CXC
The best race so far this year for me was the Trek CXC Cup.
I had a good start, moving up into the top 15.
I wasn’t going full out, but I was working hard, passing a lot of people.
The breathing caught up to me after about a lap and half.
I panicked a little, and slowed down, working on breathing into my belly through my nose.
I lost several places but regained my breathing.
The rest of the race was solid, and I finished 15 places above my start position.
The course was also a blast, flowy and challenging, but not too difficult.
A Slow Build to the Season
My training focus for the cyclocross season throughout the year has been to build up a lot of endurance miles and add some threshold and VO2max intervals to push my limits a little.
Strength training and yoga have also been critical every week.
The goal was to come into the cyclocross season short on hard interval work to build speed.
The speed would come from racing and doing short, really hard intervals.
It’s always a challenge to coach yourself, but I wanted to use my experience and my reading on myself to see how it all worked.
Soccer Field Sprints Are Favorite Cross Workout
My favorite cyclocross-specific interval work are soccer field sprints.
I ride fast and hard down the sidelines, carve a hard corner, coast a moment behind the goal, then jump and ride hard down the other sideline.
I do this for 10 minutes and repeat the sets three or four times.
These are not full-out sprints, but the kind of hard jumps we do out of corners.
The purpose is to build anaerobic capacity and keep pushing that system despite fatigue.
This kind of training for cyclocross builds a lot of race specificity capacity, which means I’m training for exactly the kind of work I do in races.
Thankfully, I live within crawling distance from the soccer fields so I can make it home after these.
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