Following A Plan During CX Season

During CX season my schedule typically looks like this:

  • Monday: Off (stretch, massage, etc)
  • Tuesday: Easy (skills/drills, z1/z2)
  • Wednesday: Hard (generally longer SS/threshold)
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Z1/Z2 - Openers
  • Saturday: Race
  • Sunday: Race or long Z2 ride

Given that my CX season is 4 months long, I would like to have a better plan than “race, recover, repeat” for what amounts to ~ 1/3 of my training year.

Is anyone following a TR plan (with modifications for racing every weekend) and finding success? What does your plan progression throughout the CX season look like?

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I’ve never been compliant to a TR plan during race season, for me, it makes little sense to ride a trainer during this time of year. I can do outdoor workouts with race-specificity. If weather is terrible I’ll do an indoor session. But in general, I’m riding outdoors as much as possible this time of year…to me, that’s far more valuable than hammering 30/15’s indoors.

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Your training week looks pretty good to me. It is similar to what I would do if I was racing every 2 weeks (given my age I tend not to race every week). I also fit in a weights session/ week, (2/week when not racing).
Tues and Thurs were hard. With one of those being offroad incorporating technical stuff, on/off bike cornering etc.
My mistake was to try and follow a TR mid volume plan , Race, and also get the outside cx workouts we need in order to be good at cx. Overtraining big time!
Maybe you could follow a SS plan as you build up to the cx season then try a LV cx specific plan when you get into the season. But you would still need to do your outdoor skills, as riding an indoor trainer is no substitute for outdoor riding for cx and MTB. So beware of overtraining. It can creep up on you , then bite hard :grimacing: :grimacing: :grimacing:

I should have clarified - I am primarily riding outside most of the year, but still use TR plans.

I do the same, I just find that when CX season starts I’m much less inclined to stick to the indoor structure. Mainly because I find more benefits from doing those CX-focused workouts outdoors, than I can do some other things. Again, if the weather is inclement I’ll ride indoors, but I’m not following a TR plan during the season. It’s more about getting intensity from racing plus one other hard day per week–very similar to what you laid out.

I’m not sure progression is a necessary goal during the race season. At this point, it’s about racing hard and recovering and not letting certain aspects of fitness drop too much. I always try to get in an aerobic ride or two per week and then w/e the weather allows and then touch up FTP with a good threshold session every 10 days or so. I’m not really progressing anything, to be honest, CTL is naturally declining…I just want to be as fresh as possible for w/e race is happening.

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Don’t forget that the race itself is a huge training stimulus. That combined with a hard Wednesday and the skills drills is likely as good as it will get in-season. As others have said, CX season is so intense that just coming through it injury free and without burning out is a pretty good achievement in itself. The time to build fitness for CX is before the heart of the season (October/November in the UK), then maintaining it/resting enough through said heart. CX magazine have some decent articles on how to structure an in-season plan that are worth a look.

What you’ve outlined here is pretty much spot on for CX season maintenance. The only thing I’d suggest is to give yourself a mid season break block where you can have a recovery week and a week or two of SS/Threshold workouts without that high end racing stimulus you’ve been barraging yourself with over the first half of the season. Planning a block like this mid season can really helps with that late season burnout.

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Couldn’t agree more about the importance of a mid-season break.
I usually take Monday and Tuesday off if I raced both Sat and Sunday.

I think I’m going to try just riding in z1 (Seiler) during the week, with 1 race at the weekend as my intensity this season.
Polarised works so well for me the rest of the year it seems silly to mess with it.
I had a great end to the 2019 season after a month of strict Z1 and nothing else.

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Going to plug our local CX specific Coach Matt’s personal blog where he posts workout of the day during the season(and offseason usually). He’s coached many athletes to nationals

You’ll have to go back through the old posts since he’s been on haitus during the pandemic but hopefully things will start up again soon

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Had an quick read. Really like it. Am struggling to find how to navigate to earlier posts, I’d like to read in sequence from around early summer onwards.

Nope, I’m never on a plan for cross season. I’m like you, typically race every weekend Sept-mid December, so it’s a long chunk of time. There’s no way I could do even a low volume plan and still be ready to race every weekend, that would be way to much. My week is pretty similar to yours, although most of my races are on Sundays. I’ve found that two easy days in a row before openers gets me ready to race.

Mon: Recovery (I like Obelisk)
Tuesday: Hard/Threshold (something like 3x10 outside on the cross bike on gravel if possible, something like Sleeping Beauty+X inside)
Wed: Skills, moderate
Thurs/Fri: Easy Pettit
Sat: openers Truuli
Sun: race

I think you just have to keep clicking older posts at the bottom to go back. It’s kinda clunky since it’s a blog

Thank you, I’ll try that.

I’m generally of the opinion that you do all your training for cross over the six months leading up to it, then you just aim to survive the season. Even one race a week destroys you.

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You didn’t mention your age or recovery rate. That is important to know because your plan looks good for a 20/30 year old. After 40 years old you need to take the following advice: Listen. To. Your. Body. If feeling fatigued replace the Wednesday hard ride with something easier.

At 53 years old, if I did 2 CX races on the weekend my body would be destroyed and I would replace the Wednesday hard session with a 2+ hour Seiler zone 1 ride (Z2 in other zone systems),

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I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that you can (and should?) prioritize your races. For example, each season should have at most one or two A races. If you designate the majority of the races as C then you can definitely do some proper training blocks with progressions because C races are just another (VO2max or over/under) workout. Time the end of such a block to correspond to a B race (which are like dress rehearsals for your A race). Only the A races need the taper.

I agree with the above, I had a C race the day after Leconte. Let’s just say my legs were dead, I still placed 6/20 people. It’s good to have only a couple A races a year that you really want to dominate, the others are just practice (skills) races, to really dial in what I need to do for my A events. That’s my opinion tho

Given the general agreement that it’s rarely advised to try to comply with a TR plan when you have a few months of weekly racing, do you all finish short power build then go into the season, or do you do the specialty phase and finish it just before the season starts?

You can use plan builder and put in as many A races as you want. That could be during the start of specialty phase. Then say you want openers before each event. That should make it tolerable, with some tapering before each event, but I’ve never done or tried that.