My CX training year plan

It’s a non-training day, so I get to think about stuff! Mainly just posting to get other CX folks to get on the train and share what my rough plan is. I’m almost at the end of sustained power build HV and my plan has been to start with CX training once I finish this plan. Not sure if I had thought about this originally, but a full base-build-specialty plan would have me finish in late Nov, which is pretty much the tail end of the season, so not really ideal!

So I really don’t think I need to go with base 1 again, my CTL is nearly 90 and not very fatigued, so I’ll jump right back in with SSB2 HV, then follow-up with short power build HV (or maybe mid volume and do more endurance stuff outdoors and not be a slave to the trainer) and then probably back off the CX specialty to mid or low volume to accommodate racing without creating too much fatigue with the weekday workouts. This approach would run until late Oct and then I’d peak for some November races; I don’t really care about peaking per se, I raced last year with decreasing CTL from Sept forward and did ok.

I’ll be interested in seeing how this full approach pays off at events, last year I had the unorthodox approach of just going with CX specialty without doing build (I was doing a lot of endurance/sweet spot miles ahead of a granfondo in July). I had what was a great year (for me) anyway, so I’m excited to see what this year might bring.

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Damn 90 CTL. I’m hovering around 60-65 and about to finish up a month of racing which has I feel curbed my growth a bit. I like what you have going on.
I did the base, did sustained power to help with the base and just overall endurance, went back to build with short power (starting week three this week), but might just do a month of it, and then six weeks of crit high volume before Tulsa Tough. Then to general build or short power again before doing cx speciality starting in September. I love CX, but it’s certainly on the back burner with road right now. Cat 3 cx is fricking hard in CO. 4.2 w/kg is back of the pack here. Hoping to really work on the skills aspect of it more this year.

I’m trying my hardest not to get seduced back to road racing too seriously lol My FTP has gone from 275 (about 3.9w/kg) to 300 (4.3w/kg) this past winter and am still a cat 5 road and 4 CX. I’ll dabble in a couple of local road races and see how I stack up, but I decided that I wanted to be all in with CX, and I definitely see my higher potential there after this past year of moving up from back of the pack to upper-mid.

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I hear ya, ha! I upgraded pretty quickly from a 4 to 3 as I raced SS for a season. It would have been even quicker, but the SS fields were only 10-12 deep. Did a SS open race and it was an entirely different level. Switched back to geared and yeah, still fast, hah. I found myself just not able to stay at threshold as much as I did back in SS. Hence, sustained, because I felt my endurance was shit. So, I’m still trying to to build up huge endurance rides on weekends when I can. All about that base.

Make sure you spend time on bike handling skills, and not just focus on FTP/trainer workouts. I added a couple of very unorganized workouts per week with another local guy, and I think it did wonders as far as being able to both express my fitness and improve economy navigating the course. I didn’t quite break 4w/kg last year, but that plus the skills-time was enough to move me from back-mid to the pointy-end of our cat4 races by the end of the season.

I don’t see a problem wrapping up specialty near the start of your season, just don’t burn out early. I don’t think I started specialty early enough last year and wasn’t prepared for the intensity early on (also, the heat). I’d like to be 4 weeks into specialty by my first race this fall. Also, the outdoor skills time caused me to drag the MV specialty plan out much longer than initially scheduled. I haven’t decided yet if I should just let that happen again, or 1st 4 weeks of MV pre-season, then switch to LV for the race-season to leave days for skills rides without constantly pushing MV back.

Very true about bike handling stuff, although it’s funny, I raced all of last year with no other CX riding besides the actual races. I’m not super, and can definitely improve navigating at higher speed, but I somehow avoid a lot of mistakes I see others make, maybe I’m a natural lol

I think you need to work on skills more than anything if that’s your w/kg. Obviously competition varies widely regionally but my numbers are way lower and I’m midpack Cat 4 CX fodder. Maybe ride tons of gravel or pick up MTB? What does your above FTP W/kg look like?

Well I’m upper half Cat 4 right now, not sure how staging is done in your region, in New England they use crossresults points, so I started the year at 622 (after racing the year prior with no fitness and just trying stuff out) and am at 506 now, so I basically spent the year trying to improve my points to get better staging from just about last in my field to the upper half. Essentially in a lot of races I was improving 20-30 spots from my initial staging. I’m really happy with how last season went, aside from a couple of flats things went well, and I think for the most part I achieved what I could. I’m feeling pretty confident over next year, I’ll be in a position where I’ll be consistently more competitive and not getting caught up behind some of the early bottlenecks.

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gotcha, yea i was just basing it on your post prior about only doing races. Even the Cat 1s around here spend lots of time practicing skills and riding offroad in addition to training.

I only race CX and I’m doing SSB LV with one weekend 5-hour ride and MTB on Sundays. I basically quit riding outside and realized that I need to spend most of my time on over-unders until CX season gets closer, will then work in VO2-max stuff. There is a certain level of threshold power and pain you must endure between VO2 events to stay at the front of the race and I don’t have it yet.

I basically must get out of cat-4 and onto cat-3 this season or I will lack the dignity to show my face at a bike race ever again.

Your CTL is in a really good spot, 90 is pretty damn high for April. I’m probably down around 50.

I guess it sounds like your planned approach is pretty good and open. Nothing wrong with some experimentation while you’re still a lower category racer.

Don’t neglect running. This is one of the skills that took me from a being mid-pack to actually winning a race this season and grabbing a couple podiums in 3/4 races (racing as a 4 in MN). My off the bike fitness was terrible the year prior and any long, unrideable run ups just gassed me.

In terms of how I’m approaching this season vs last—taking things slower and focusing on building a better aerobic engine for which to build from. I started Build way too early last season and didn’t invest enough in my base. Secondly, do a lot more VO2 and Anaerobic work prior to the start of the season. I lacked the punch in the first month of the season.


What would happen if you just did over under workouts three times a week for nine months for cycle cross training? Workouts like McAddie and Palisade. Does feel like the workouts closest to raise conditions without the VO2 max intervals.

I think you would not get the adaptations you need to be a strong CX racer. They are not intense enough. Certainly keeping an O/U in your repertoire throughout the season can’t be bad though. Just not 3x week, need harder, shorter stuff.

Just thought I’d update the topic as I’m heading into build this week. Finished SSB2 HV again, I don’t forsee any additional changes in my FTP (have been doing workouts based on 310w FTP), not complaining since I started in Nov at 275. I’m looking forward to changing up the training, while I enjoy sweet spot, I’m pretty flat and don’t have a lot of pop. But endurance is good, came off a weekend of a total of like 430 tss and 160miles and I feel just fine today.

Anyhow, I’m kind of settled in my mind that I’ll be doing low volume short power build. I’d rather get in a lot of quality at this point rather than try and cram in a lot of stress (I can handle a lot of base and build but vo2 and anaerobic is harder on me). I’d rather work on the short power in low volume and give myself space to do some more epic weekends with back to back long rides and stuff like that.


Everyone is different, but I’m about to start up general build after Tulsa Tough, continue racing crits, one stage race, and Gateway Cup Labor Day weekend. I’ll be mixing in 4-5 hour rides also on the weekends to keep the aerobic engine moving. A normal week would be 180-200 miles with a TSS around 650/700. I take Monday completely off and Friday is a very easy spin. It’s a lot, but I went into CX last year with some shit endurance and my lap times were falling off around laps 4-7.
I’ve found the low volume Tues/Thurs plans aren’t quite enough for me unless I’m tapering or I might do a low volume vo2/sprint workout the day before a crit. I’ll be also throwing in weekly rides on the CX bike on single track and just messing around. Gotta get back to being comfortable on it!

Sounds like you got it figured out! Keep at it and you will crush this year!