Get Ready for Cyclo-cross

Grant Harrison, M.S. Exercise Physiology
Senior Consultant- Source Endurance
With the Cyclo-cross season just around the corner, now is the time to start preparing.  The recent surge in cyclo-cross racing has not only extended the cyclo-cross season in both directions, but has filled the calendar with a full road seasons worth of racing opportunities. So what can you do at this point in the year to get yourself prepared? The answer just depends on what your goals are and what you want to get out of the experience. No matter how much time and energy you have to train, you want to make sure you make your training time count to make the most of your efforts. One of the major advantages of being a coached athlete is taking the guesswork out of training. Back to the first question, what can you do to prepare?
Develop a solid foundation of fitness AND technical skill
Starting now, you should be directing your time and workouts towards a successful cyclo-cross season, waiting until September to start training for an “A” race in November may not be the best plan, especially if you extended your road season into late august September. For those whose primary focus is cyclo-cross, this is the time to build your fitness and start working on your skills. Have you ever noticed how some cyclo-cross riders seem to make technical aspects of riding look effortless? There may be a fair amount of natural talent involved, but improving your technical skills will make or break you in a race. Your skill (or lack thereof) is directly linked to your energy expenditure. If you handle a technical corner, a series of barriers, or rutted mud pit with ease, it costs you much less energy which buys you speed and time. Fundamentals such as how to distribute your weight on the bike make a big difference and are worth paying attention to. Working on your skills and fitness concurrently will help you learn to apply these skills when things start to get fast a few months from now. However, designing your training to adequately address these factors can be tricky and likely suboptimal given a busy schedule. This is where it may be wise to hire a coach who knows the demand of the sport and what it will take to address these factors among many others. Like many things in life, the early bird gets the worm.
Make your training specific
Not only does your training for cross need to start now, but the demands of the sport are different enough that a different approach should be taken. Cyclo-cross is undoubtedly its’ own animal in that it will challenge muscle groups that don’t see much action during the typical road season. In cyclo-cross you will be on your feet at times and when you do shoulder the bike or put a foot down, you’ll want your body to respond appropriately.   Weekly strength training in addition to running should be incorporated but it all needs to be guided progressively in order to fit well into the overall training plan.  As if training for cycling races wasn’t complex enough at times, you’ll really want to make sure you have a plan and guidance in your training.
This fall, Source Endurance is hosting Cyclo-cross clinics across the country featuring Elite level Cyclo-cross racers as well as our knowledgeable staff. To find a clinic near you this fall, visit In addition to these clinics, Source Endurance also offers a range of coaching packages to help you achieve your best Cyclo-cross season yet.
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1 Comment

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