I am a junior racer and am in cyclocross season and wondering if you have opinions on in season training.
It’s so great to hear that you’re cyclocross racing! I was in your shoes just a few years ago when I was racing for Trek Bear Development as a Junior. As athletes, we all deal with balancing our training and racing with the rest of our lives, and as a junior, this balance is especially important.
It looks like in other posts you have in here, you’ve gotten the advice to keep things casual and focus on the fun part of riding bikes to help you maintain your passion for cycling on through adulthood. This advice is spot on, and really important to keep in mind. Burnout can be a real issue, and you don’t want to overwork yourself to the point where no longer want to look at a bike.
On the other hand, Juniors racing can get very serious if you want to get to the top level I’m not sure where you are age-wise or aspiration-wise, but proper goal making is one thing that will make a huge difference in your trajectory as an athlete and in your ability to stay in love with the sport.
When setting goals, you should make Process-Oriented goals. Process-Oriented goals are the opposite of Results-Oriented Goals and will help define your success using factors within your control. Let me explain.
If you make a goal to finish top 5 in a certain race, this is a Results-Oriented Goal. This goal has multiple variables outside of your control. You don’t know what kind of talent is going to show up or what level of training your competition is working with. You could have a mechanical or have some tangle that costs you time. In other words, you could do everything right and still “fail” according to your goals.
If you make Process-Oriented Goals, you are in control of your own success. Make the goal to successfully complete every workout in your training plan. Or make the goal to practice your mounts, dismounts, and technical CX skills once per week. By motivating yourself with intrinsic factors (factors within yourself) rather than extrinsic factors (factors outside of your control), you will be able to maintain a positive relationship with cycling.
Aside from Goal Making, I would say that consistency is another major player in your success as a Junior. Even if you are on the “best” possible training plan, this means nothing if you are not consistent and dedicated to the plan. Focus on completing every ride to the best of your ability. For Cyclocross season buildup, in terms of TrainerRoad Plans I would recommend the:
Low Volume Sweet Spot Base
Low Volume Short Power Build
Low Volume Cyclocross
Then, for the Race Season, repeating the mid-week workouts of Weeks 7-8 of Specialty is a good way to recover between weekly weekend races.
And keep in mind that this Low Volume designation is very intentional. By having a relatively low Trainer Volume, it opens you up to spend plenty of time on skills and technique. Go to different parks a few times a week and focus on:
- High-speed cornering
- Stair run-ups
Get super comfortable on the bike so that when you’re cross-eyes and anaerobic, you will be able to keep the bike on track thanks to your muscle memory. You don’t want to be thinking about your mounts or dismounts in the race, you want to be focusing on the race and only the race.
This is a long process, but there is really no “silver bullet” to getting fast. It’s really all about doing your workouts super consistently for a long period of time.
The best advice I have for you is:
Focus on the process. Focus on doing the best you can. Focus on nutrition and taking care of your body (on and off the bike). Focus on consistency.
The rest will follow.
Cheers, and good luck with your season!