How to Prep for Your Cy­clocross Sea­son

Tips for both road­ies and moun­tain bik­ers for their fall CX races

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - TRAIN­ING TIPS - by An­drew Ran­dell and Steve Neal of The Cy­cling Gym

If you’re a roadie or moun­tain biker who will switch to cy­clocross rac­ing at the end of your sea­son, you’ll have to plan ahead for some of the changes you’ll need to make in your train­ing. Both road­ies and moun­tain bik­ers will need to work on their run­ning and mo­bil­ity in or­der to both per­form and avoid in­jury. Tech­nique is im­por­tant. Road­ies will likely have more work to do in this depart­ment. Also, end-of-sea­son fa­tigue and fit­ness lev­els will also play a role in your prepa­ra­tion.

Be­gin run­ning well ahead of cy­clocross sea­son. (See “Hit the Ground Run­ning Be­fore CX Sea­son” for an eight-week plan.) You can’t start run­ning with­out mak­ing sure that you also work on your an­kle mo­bil­ity. In ’cross races, you’re mostly on your feet on up­hill sec­tions. You’ll need good mo­bil­ity in your an­kles to make sure you don’t blow out your calves. Each day, gently stretch your calves, ham­strings and hips. We can’t stress the im­por­tance of this process so you can avoid in­jury.

The tech­nique side of ’cross rac­ing – dis­mount­ing and mount­ing the bike quickly – will most likely pose more of a chal­lenge for the roadie than the moun­tain biker. Which­ever type of rider you are, you should in­cor­po­rate some tech­nique-spe­cific train­ing i nto your pro­gram. Closer to the sea­son, do an easy ’ cross ride once per week with dis­mounts and mounts, and walks or jogs up­hill. Think of th­ese rides as start­ing base mileage and tempo for the mus­cles that aren’t quite in shape yet like the cy­cling-spe­cific ones. You will also get used to the dif­fer­ent han­dling of the ’cross bike with its dif­fer­ent po­si­tion, brak­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics and tires.

To help with the greater phys­i­cal­ity of ‘cross rac­ing, road­ies – and moun­tain bik­ers if they aren’t do­ing so – should con­sider start­ing a gen­tle ply­o­met­ric or cir­cuit­train­ing pro­gram to im­prove their ath­leti­cism.

Lastly, one of the big­gest fac­tors to con­sider as you come into the ‘ cross sea­son is your fit­ness. For ei­ther a roadie or moun­tain bike rider who has just raced a full sea­son, do­ing some solid base mileage will be key. If you are a roadie, you’ll likely be fac­ing some solid fa­tigue near the end of the sea­son. You don’t want to lose fit­ness, but do­ing hard in­ter­vals will only make you more tired. Some long, en­durance base miles are the per­fect way to re­cover some­what from the sea­son and keep the legs turn­ing. If you’re a moun­tain biker, the chal­lenge is dif­fer­ent. Keep­ing up the mileage across a moun­tain bike sea­son is tough. Moun­tain bik­ing is more mus­cu­lar, of­ten re­quir­ing a bit more rest. Be­fore you know it, the next race comes up, which once again keeps you from do­ing big miles.

All rid­ers will worry about the lack of in­ten­sity in their train­ing. But the ‘cross sea­son is long now, mean­ing that there is plenty of rac­ing to use as a means of get­ting that in­ten­sitya­gainandfin­d­ingth­e­high­erend fit­ness.

If you are think­ing about do­ing some ‘cross rac­ing, make sure you plan ahead a bit. While ’cross rac­ing is a sport on a bike, it has unique chal­lenges dif­fer­ent from both moun­tain and road rid­ing. Take the time to prep a few things such as run­ning, tech­nique and your over­all fit­ness; you’ll have a much bet­ter sea­son.

Sleep is im­por­tant, but un­like fancy gad­gets and hacks, it’s bor­ing. We sleep ev­ery night. So when an ex­pert tells you that sleep is im­por­tant, it doesn’t seem that sig­nif­i­cant be­cause you do it al­ready. But in the past year, sleep has be­come one of the big­gest top­ics in sports science. It’s also an area on which pro­fes­sional sports teams are spend­ing time and money on to gain an edge on their com­pe­ti­tion. But does this mean you or I should look more closely at our sleep? With longer work hours, more screen time and tele­vi­sion binge watch­ing fea­tur­ing in most of our lives, it’s more than likely that we could all gain a few watts by learn­ing to sleep bet­ter.

Amy Ben­der is a sleep spe­cial­ist who works with elite ath­letes at the Cen­tre for Sleep & Hu­man Per­for­mance, a med­i­cal sleep lab and test­ing fa­cil­ity in Cal­gary. “Sleep was once overlooked but is now be­com­ing one of the pil­lars for ath­letic per­for­mance, along­side train­ing and nu­tri­tion,” she says.

As a coach and ath­lete, I have come to ap­pre­ci­ate how much my sleep af­fects my own per­for­mance and also how limited the busy ath­letes I work with can be by their limited daily shut-eye. When we sleep, we ab­sorb the train­ing we’ve done. Get­ting rest also helps us fo­cus on work and our ef­fort dur­ing work­outs and races. “A shorter nap, roughly 20 min­utes, be­fore train­ing or com­pe­ti­tion will likely boost alert­ness and per­for­mance for up to four hours af­ter the nap. A longer nap, about 90 min­utes, af­ter a train­ing ses­sion will help you re­cover and re­pair the body by al­low­ing growth hor­mone to be re­leased when you reach deep sleep dur­ing the longer sleep pe­riod,” Ben­der says.

Does that rest­less night with fit­ful dreams of show­ing up at the start line sans chamois mean a bad re­sult on race day? Ben­der says, “We don’t be­lieve

a bad night’s sleep is a big deal un­less it is ex­treme, like pulling an all-nighter. Bank­ing sleep by get­ting ex­tra sleep the weeks be­fore an im­por­tant event or race can help mit­i­gate the neg­a­tive ef­fects of any sleep dis­rup­tion the night be­fore due to anx­i­ety and nerves.”

So if the night be­fore doesn’t mat­ter but the weeks ahead do, how much do we ac­tu­ally need? Ben­der sug­gests we need seven to nine hours of sleep gen­er­ally. Ath­letes, es­pe­cially those do­ing en­durance sports, will be on the higher end of the range. Fe­male and younger ath­letes also tend to ex­cel with longer sleep du­ra­tions. “The prob­lem is that we are not good judges of how we are per­form­ing on less sleep,” Ben­der says. “You may think you need less but, in re­al­ity, the sleep-de­prived brain is not a good judge.”

As an en­durance coach, I keep a close eye on clients’ per­for­mance num­bers (wattage) and race re­sults. They should trend up­ward. I also check if ath­letes feel rested each day. Do they fall asleep un­ex­pect­edly, while watch­ing TV or even dur­ing a meet­ing? Are they con­sum­ing too much caf­feine or other stim­u­lants? If any of th­ese met­rics are off or if things are trend­ing neg­a­tively, then we will try im­prov­ing sleep hy­giene. You, too, should keep an eye on your shut-eye.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.