Time to Focus on the Limiters


After some intense CX races you probably have a good idea what “limiters” are holding you back from overtaking the guys and gals you have not been able to catch these last couple of weeks. You may be getting dropped after certain obstacles or through technical corners. Maybe you’re hitting a wall before crossing the finish line, or you can’t get the recovery you need after a power section.

It’s important to recognize and focus on these weaknesses during the appropriate training days. This may seem obvious but some of us go at our intense training days with a workout that makes us “feel” like we’re making the best of our time. Maybe we feel really strong when we increase that average power week after week when we train race pace for 45 minutes on the usual training loop. Or maybe the short, intense efforts are where we exceed, and anaerobic endurance intervals are the go-to workout.  Getting out of the comfort zone while no-one is watching is what separates the podium from the rest of the field.

There is plenty of time to improve on these weaknesses before the big end-of-season races. Here are a few suggestions from TBC:

CX SKILLS – If barriers are your enemy, you think sand should only be for beach-goers, or you think bunny hopping should be restricted to small floppy-eared mammals; work on these must have skills during your recovery days. We give some good pointers in this post.

MOTHER NATURE – Do you excel on dry courses or are you a cold weather racer? Get out and play in the rain to get used to the sloppy conditions. Hopefully the hot races are over, but next season get out in the August heat in case Trek CX is brutally hot again. And now is the time to train on those cold days to prep for the potential frigid racing this winter.

WHY CAN’T I RECOVER? – Implement VO2 Max intervals or AE intervals on your hard days. Workouts like Tabata intervals will help improve the acceleration out of the technical sections, and train your body to take advantage of those short recovery sections.

THE WALL BEFORE THE LAST 2 LAPS – When the tank is consistently empty before the race is over you may need to pick it up on that hard training day. Just be careful you’re not over training and your weekly routine is making race day tougher than it should be. We recommend one, maybe two hard days a week depending on the training block. Mix in the short intervals with active recovery, and use the duration of your race as a guide for time. Here is an example of something you may try if your race is 45 minutes:

  • Mimic a start into a 4 minute Tabata interval.
  • Three minute recovery (50% of FTP) and into another Tabata interval.
  • 1 minute recovery into a 10 minute FTP interval.
  • Two minute recovery into a Tabata interval
  • Three minute recovery and into another Tabata interval.
  • 1 minute recovery into a 10 minute FTP interval.
  • Two minute recovery into a Tabata interval with an all-out finish.

Hit whatever goal is within your ability by improving your limiters during the middle of the season. Good luck and race hard.

Peter Kelley