This is the first of our posts that will focus on helping you maximize your time while training for the Chicago Cross Cup series.  If you have questions shoot over a note to [email protected].  My methods are based on the Training Bible system of periodization as developed by Joe Friel, as I have been lucky enough to learn from and work with the master himself.  Joe is regarded as the foremost authority on training endurance athletes in the English-speaking world and , very literally, wrote the book.  We also hope to have input from other coaches invested in this area and race series and so if you fit that description and have an interest send an e-mail to that same address.

If you race cyclocross it’s time to get back on the horse.  A proper base is crucial in making it to the end of the season both physically and mentally dialed in throughout the Chicago Cross Cup series.

A transition period (see more here) is made of little to no riding; maybe some cross training of some sort and a mental vacation from the rigors of training.  Take at least a week off to that end before jumping back into a regimented program.  And then……

Most are coming off of a summer of racing or just riding for fitness and fun and so should begin with less aerobic focus than is necessary following a long period off the bike like you’d take on mid-winter.  Two aerobic threshold rides per week mixed into your schedule for this first phase of training is normally enough.   Training should be set up in blocks and the most common rhythm is 3 weeks of focused training followed by 1 week of recovery, and this first block should include a healthy dose of aerobic endurance intervals.

Start with heart rate as a gauge and then feed in your wattage as you go along.  Aerobic threshold is built at the high end of zone 2, and look here if you need to identify your heart rate zones.  If you do not have a power meter then just go by heart rate.  This level of effort may sound like a cake walk, but they are not easy!  The intervals are:

Warm up for at least 15 minutes.  60 minutes at the high end of zone 2 heart rate.  Warm down for at least 10 minutes

Warm up for at least 15 minutes.  75 minutes at the high end of zone 2 heart rate.  Warm down for at least 10 minutes

Warm up for at least 15 minutes.  90 minutes at the high end of zone 2 heart rate.  Warm down for at least 10 minutes

Click here for more detail in regard to these intervals.  Solidifying a 75 minute effort with no decoupling – when heart rate rises while power remains the same (see more here) – is enough for all but those in the 1/2/3 races.  If you are going to line up for a 1 hour cross race then take it up to at least 90 minutes.  If you are using heart rate alone you can use speed and/or gear ratio in the place of wattage.  Not as exacting, but will give you an idea of how your output (heart rate) measures up to your input (power) as you progress.

You’ll want to have a consistent effort and so these are best done on the road or a stationary trainer; with a road bike or cross bike with some slicks.  Add in recovery rides and not-so-tough rides off road on the cross bike and you have a solid week of the type of training necessary for this period.  A typical week will look something like this:

Monday – completely off or strength training

Tuesday – 60 minute aerobic threshold interval, 1.5 hour ride total

Wednesday – off road on the cross bike for 1 – 2 hours, easy to medium intensity

Thursday – 1.5 hour recovery ride, or strength training and a 30 minute recovery ride

Friday – completely off

Saturday – 2 – 3 hour long slow distance ride on the road, off road or a combination of the two

Sunday – 60 minute aerobic threshold interval, 1.5 hour ride total

Don’t underestimate recovery!  It is as important as the hard rides.

Good luck!  If you are interested in buying a training plan that will take you through the entire CCC series that incorporates this and much more see here.

Rob Kelley