Setting up your week of training for the race season is one of the many important aspects in accomplishing your CX goals this year. Too much volume and intensity will result in a tired body on race day (per Rob Nichols – “don’t use up your race legs on Wednesday!”), while too little will undermine your ability to go deep into the season and get better as it goes along.
You need to work on intensity, skills, endurance and recovery in a way that allows you to bring it all together for race day. Keep in mind that going hard on any given day will actually make you slower for the next 24 to 48 hours at least. It is the “supercompensation” that can only come after a tough ride followed by proper recovery that makes you stronger, and more on that from the Master here.
A typical week
Monday – off, or strength maintenance in the gym
Tuesday – easy active recovery ride. 1 – 1.5 hours in zone 1-2 heart rate/power.
Wednesday – tough ride. This is a great day for anaerobic intervals or bandit CX.
Thursday – active recovery and skills. Have a nice easy warm up to give the legs a chance to recover from the Wednesday ride. Hit some turns at speed, do a few short starts, mounting and dismounting….etc. Get the reps in while maintaining an easy to moderate effort.
Friday – off completely
Saturday – Opener. 1-1.5 easy ride with a few short (30 – 60 seconds) and intense efforts. Do a few more short starts and easy barriers as well and get a good long warm down in.
Sunday – Race
If you are racing on Saturday then simply take Thursday off completely and do your opener on Friday. Recovery weeks are also a necessary piece of the puzzle, but more on that later. You may respond better to a hard day on Thursday rather than Wednesday, and the only way to figure that out is to try both. The most agreed upon gap between a hard workout and your best performance is 72 hours, but with at least one race every weekend in this series save Thanksgiving my opinion is that an extra day of easy prior to the weekend is best. It also seems that the younger you are the more likely you’ll be feeling good again after 72 hours of recovery. Bottom line is that not everyone is the same and so it is important to experiment to find what works best for you.
One of the great things about cyclocross is that the preparation doesn’t require too much time on the bike. You can get away with 8-12 hours per week depending on your category and be totally prepared for the effort. The key is in your progression throughout the off-season and race season, and going into each day with a specific goal. That goal can vary from keeping the legs up and doing nothing to help with recovery, to riding at your absolute limit. The art of coaching is in piecing these aspects together properly as they will be the difference between reaching your goals and not.