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Is there anything more fun come fall than joining the local cyclocross series? Are you hesitant to join in the fun because you just don't know how to fit cyclocross training into your busy schedule? We understand; the prospect can appear daunting when there's work, kids, and countless other commitments. However, you don't have to find THAT much time to train - you just have to train efficiently. Read our cyclocross training guide to learn how to get in competition shape in just 6 hours of training a week - whether you're just a beginner when it comes to cyclocross, or you've been racing for years.
Competition happens on the weekends, so allow Monday to be your rest and recovery day. For some, this will mean leaving the bike in the garage. For others, an easy 45-minute recovery ride will be just the ticket.
On Tuesday, beginners and intermediate riders should start out with a 20-minute run in the morning or during lunch. Throughout the season you should increase the time of this run - increasing in increments of 5 minutes is what we recommend. Later in the day, you may want to do some combined running and riding. For example, see if there's a cyclocross training route nearby that allows you to ride on road and run on a trail. However, if you're still feeling the weekend race, make sure to take it easy on Tuesday. Training while tired will only lead to over-training. Believe it or not, with something as intense as cyclocross, recovery can be more important than training.
On Wednesday, kick it up a notch. Do two rides at race pace with a rest period in between. We suggest 20-25 minutes with 10 to 20 minutes of rest in between. Consider doing pyramid intervals for this training session. This style of training starts out with 1 minute work / 1 minute rest, then builds to 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, and finally 5/5 before descending to 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. However, make sure you don't train more than 3 hours, and no more than 1 hour at max intensity.
If you've got a race on Saturday, or both Saturday & Sunday, this should once again be a day of rest for you - with at most a 45 minute recovery ride. However, if you're only racing on Sunday you can consider repeating the training regimen from Tuesday. If you're a beginner or intermediate cyclocross racer, you may actually benefit from skipping the fitness workouts on Tuesday and Thursday and instead working on skills development like transitions, cornering, and sand riding. One day of intense fitness training a week is plenty for those starting out in the sport.
Racing on Saturday? Do a couple of high-cadence openers. Openers are two to three five minute efforts with rest in between. Work at high cadence to get your cardiovascular system working without overtiring your legs. The time for this training should be about an hour. If you're racing on Sunday, take today as a rest day.
Sunday racers will do their high cadence openers today. Racers should be on the course an hour before race time for a warm-up. Complete 2 laps of the course at 85% effort as a warm-up and bike check. Make sure to finish these laps fifteen minutes before the race starts, and consider downing an energy gel. If you're racing the next day as well, post-race consider going for a 20-40 minute spin.
If this is your second day racing, get things moving again with a 20 minute spin before heading out to the race, and then use the same warm-up as the previous day.
Remember - rest is key! Don't overdue it and you'll watch your fitness steadily improve throughout the cyclocross season.