Building Blocks for CX in September

Hey All, new here but have been learning a lot from the discussion.

I am new to structured training and wrapping up my first block of SSB Mid Volume next week. Feeling really good and going to celebrate with a gravel race before kicking off the SSB 2.

At this point, my main goal is to do better in our local CX race series. Had a blast racing last year but didn’t really have the fitness and am pretty motivated to put in the time to get there. Not looking to peak for Nationals or a specific A race, more like chasing upgrade points and the overall series standings.

I am looking for some advice about how to approach a 12 race block over about 3 months, starting in September. I’ve got more than enough time for the base/base/build/specialty plan but am not sure exactly how to structure it. Sounds like I should be starting the CX Specialty about the same time as the season kicks off, does that match your experience? Any ideas about the most profitable way to spend the time between now and then?

Thank you

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I was in exactly the same position last year. I did base, then short power build then CX speciality ending about 2 months into my 5 month season. I only did low volume, and during the race season I moved the workouts around to avoid race weekends. This gave me a great boost in fitness and I got my first top 20 finish.

This year I’m doing sustained build early in the year, and some TTs just for a change, but I’ll be back on the same plan (mid volume this time) from about May.

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I’m unfamiliar with the TR CX plan, but have you considered race specific efforts on Tuesdays, then some solid tempo -> sweet spot work on Wednesday, and roll into the races on the weekend? CX is so intense that you really just need to race and recover with some efforts (tabatas work) to stay sharp.
Also, do you lift weights? That will help your neuromuscular system stay healthy and sharp all season long.

excellent, thank you for the feedback

I was doing something similar during the season last year, hit a pretty good rhythm. Race, recover, workout, openers, race, repeat.

At this point, I am mostly trying to figure out the best way to build up my base before the season kicks off. Not sure if I should be doing a build early in the year and another build leading up to the the season or just keep working SSB and then do build/specialty. Maybe extending the SSB and adding in some weight training would be a good option, with a build leading up to the season and CX specific training during the race season.

I’m primarily a CX racer as well. I’d go base/build/base/build/specialty. Finish build 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the race and start specialty. Once the season starts its about minimizing the decay of fitness/CTL while maximizing recovery while sharpening the spear(VO2max+). If you race 1-2 days/week and have 1 midweek skills/mock race then thats likely all the intensity you will need to do, and then squeeze in 1-2 recovery rides.

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will your summer months simply be training specifically for CX or will you do any local road races, crits, or other groups rides?

Let’s say you start racing Sept 1.

You won’t need race specific intensity until mid July.

If you’re riding road, my answer that follows changes. If no road and purely CX Training, get a solid endurance base in, and don’t hit the sweet spot until early summer. Otherwise you’ll peter out.

If I missed anything, lmk.

Thanks @RightSaidFred

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I am planning to do club rides and practice crits this summer but not trying to race road seriously. LookIng at summer events as fun workouts more than anything else.

I guess I am trying to understand if I have enough time to do more than one build phase and if there is a cumulative benifit or if I am better off focusing on base.

For CX I’ve got base > Short power > CX so
CX ends the first weekend of racing, I’ll then use hitt maintenance during race season

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I would build 1.5x by TR standards, as I see that TR puts them in 8 week blocks. Look at the builds as 3 week blocks, with one week recovery to absorb the training (rest is where we grow), so April May June you are building (aerobically), then July gets race specific, August you really sharpen the sword, September everyone says, “HOLY S @RightSaidFred IS ON FIRE!!!”

How does that sound?

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I’m basically in the same situation as you. CX is my primary focus and I partake in a couple of gravel races (low priority, more for training) throughout the summer. Last year I did SSB 1 & 2 followed by General Build Mid, which I stopped at week 5 or 6 which was around early April. Then I just rode outdoors all summer via commuting and a longer weekend ride and focused on doing a couple of hard outdoor rides each week up until the end of summer. Then come August I did a lot of race-specific work outdoors at a local park 4 weeks prior to the start of the season.

This was my second year of racing CX in Minnesota and managed to upgrade to a 4, finish on the podium 3x and even win a race. My takeaways are:

  1. I didn’t do enough VO2 work coming into the season and the early races were very hard. I didn’t feel like I had any snap. This came later in October and November.
  2. I put more focus into becoming a better runner, and it helped A LOT

I just started a second block of base, but am adding in some build-like workouts (5-7 min @ 105%+) and am focusing on raising FTP through sustained power. I think short power build puts too much emphasis on VO2 or anaerobic and it comes far too early in the season if you start your base in January or February. I’m going for a slower progression so that I’m hitting peak CTL in late summer.

I don’t think I could manage doing a speciality plan during the season, that might be a bit much stress wise. Personally, I would aim to wrap my speciality block up by the 2nd or 3rd week of the season and let whatever fitness I’ve built plus the weekly race (or two) carry me through to the last race.

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I had a pretty unorthodox approach to last year. Over the winter and spring, I did SSB1&2HV and general build HV, then I went back to SSB2 HV and a lot of endurance because I was doing a granfondo event in Europe last July. When I returned I just went into CX specialty and finished that just prior to the season in late August.

I think I tried to carry forward a similar but reduced approach to the specialty plan into the season but was finding myself feeling like I had heavy legs constantly so I cut back, especially since I was racing every weekend, and I felt good and progressively got better through the season. It was my first season of properly training for CX and I went from a back of the pack staging to mid-upper staging at the end of the year. And aside from a couple of instances I never felt like I faded in any races and was strong through the finish.

This year, I’m midway through sustained power build and once I’m done with that I might go back and do base, maybe not starting with SSB1 but rather going out and riding a lot. I’m trying not to get distracted with the road racing, but I’ll do a couple and see where I am with that, but I’d like to maintain my focus on CX because it’s super fun and I think I have a real shot at success this season.

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So far, my best year of CX was when I regularly raced XC in the summer and did a lot of long road rides. I wasn’t doing anything structured with TR. Racing crits on opposite weekdays and some road on the weekends. I went from 5 to a 3 in a season and a half. I also mixed geared with single speed to get results. But, it worked.
Also, while it’s not a TR workout, I was following an old Katie Compton workout: This put me in the hurt locker.
15 min z2 warm up
(1) 5 min hard effort @110% ftp
2x10 mins of 30-30-30 : 30 seconds riding at full gas, 30 seconds not pedaling, 30 seconds dismount and running full gas. Repeat.
10 mins z2 after each block
4x2 mins @ 150% ftp rest 2 mins after each
10 mins z2
10x1 min high cadence 110 rpm
1 min on 1 min off @ 80 rpm
15 min cool down

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I think the thing that caught me most off-guard last season was that I didn’t start the super short, super high intensity stuff soon enough. It was my first year with TR. I did SSBMV (and skipped SSB2, bad me…). Summer was a lot of outdoors & long stuff and I didn’t see much gains. I started SPBMV early in July and basically finished it up just before the start of my CX season. I saw a good ftp bump from the first half, but nothing really for the 2nd half. I imagined I timed it just right to start the CX plan right when my season started.

Anyway, as I reflected on my first couple races, while I didn’t do bad for me, I didn’t do nearly as well as I should have given where my fitness was compared to the previous season. I could hold consistent power between corners, but I realized the kick out corners, or getting up to speed quickly from slow-downs was hitting me so hard I was under-performing in the sustained sections.

My plan for this year is to start doing Wingate style workouts starting 3 or 4 weeks before my first race; maybe 2 short sessions per week, in addition to whatever else I’m doing. Outdoors, these would be like practicing starts (a good idea!). Indoors, probably any of the sprint workouts would do, but the ones I’m specifically thinking of are: birling, charing, detling, rowdow,stangate, titsey (just be sure to adjust the difficulty so the peaks are “all-out” for you).

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You have to decide when in the season you want to peak. If you would have done more V02max+ and peaked for the early races you likely wouldn’t have been able to continue to carry the fitness into the later part of the season. V02max+ type intervals have a short window in which they are effective. You just have to let that race specific fitness build over the course of the CX season if you want to be competitive for the series. The vast majority of guys who come in from the road season peaked for the first couple CX races are nowhere to be found by the time Oct rolls around

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