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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Monday, 9.1.14. “Highly Motivated”

•September 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, as promised yesterday, I’ve got something terrible for you today.

This is a workout for folks who really want to get a race in today, but don’t have a race to go to.

So they feel a compelling need to torture themselves instead.

It’s ain’t easy, and if you haven’t been training hard, you probably shouldn’t do it. 

But if you’re highly motivated, and looking for a challenge?

Tear off a piece of…

The Doppelganger – 

- Warm up well. If you have time, warm up as you would for a race. It’s good practice, if nothing else.

- After you have warmed up, do five full-gas starts. As always, focus on the second effort in your start, working on getting back on the gas right after you max-out on your initial effort and begin to sit down.

- 20 minutes at your 2×20 pace.

- 2 minute rest.

- 10 minutes of Over/Under intervals

The baseline for this interval is the level of effort/output you just did in the 20 minute effort.

However hard you went in that interval, you are going to try and hold that for the 10 minutes.

Easy, right?

Here’s the rub.

You’re going to sprint for 10 seconds every minute of the interval.

How hard are you going to sprint?

Hard, but not so hard that after you sprint, you can’t sit back down and keep churning away at your 2×20 level.

This takes some practice to figure out.

Don’t get all freaked out if you blow it and can’t hold the effort until the end. You tried, right?

Having said that, don’t wuss out and quit. This is some difficult s***, man. You want to get faster, right?

OK.

Here’s how this works.

Use a stopwatch. Put it on your bars.

Start the stopwatch.

Start the interval with a sprint, out of the saddle pretty hard, but not full gas.

Sprint for 10 seconds.

Back in saddle, drop into your 2×20 zone. Hold this until the minute mark, then –

Sprint again. 10 seconds.

Back in saddle, 2×20 level until 2 minute mark…

Repeat.

Repeat…

Repeat, until you have hit the 10 minute mark.

- 5 minute recovery

- 10 minutes at 2×20 level

- 2 minute recovery

- 10 minute Over/Under Intervals

- SPRINT at the very end of the last interval. 30 seconds, all out.

Really all out, like “I’m sprinting for my life/the cash/the girl” all out.

You should be at least half-blind at the end of the sprint.

Heck, you should be so gassed when you start the sprint that just upping the tempo a little bit puts you in a box.

You asked for a race simulation, right?

Ouch…

Notes -

Yes, this is f-ing hard. Shoulda’ raced.

You can always just sub in a 2×20 (or better yet a 3×20…)  when you can’t race. These are hard damn workouts if you do them right, but certainly nothing like the nightmare I just handed to you…

Have fun!

M

 

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Sunday, 8.31.14. “First Can”

•August 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Holy cow.

There’s some racing to be done this weekend, for some of ya’all at least. 

If you happen to be one of the folks racing tomorrow – Labor Day – then today’s workout is an important one.

you need to do enough work to ensure that you’ve primed the pumps for tomorrow’s efforts, but not so much that you empty the tank prematurely.

How do you know how much is the right amount to do?

Well… practice.

You try your openers with slight variations over the course of the season (or seasons…) and keep track of the results. 

Starting with this first race, and today’s…

Can Openers – 

738x687_Changes made to  84 mm Can Openers

Warm up for 1/2 hour or so.

Follow with several short attacking efforts, IE 30 seconds at 80% of your max, or pretty damn hard.

Back off and spin for 5 minutes.

Follow with 10-15 minute effort at AT level, or CP30, or “I could talk to you if I had to, but I don’t want to” level.

Spin for several minutes.

Follow with 5-6 full gas start efforts on a straight section of paved road, level or slightly uphill.

You want to begin these from a dead stop, with one foot unclipped.

Do not stop until you get at least 3 perfect starts in a row, and I mean perfect; this is the cross equivalent of practicing free throws.

We all know how important starts are in the race, so make ‘em count.

I don’t quit until I nail 5 in a row, but set your own threshold.

Got em’ dialed? Ripped ‘em?

Cool.

Spin out the legs, then go home and rest.

You’re ready to race.

Hey! 

Not racing this weekend?

Go out and have some fun today. 

Get some good, hard riding in. 

Or think about doing a set of openers today followed by a race simulation-type workout tomorrow so that you can have a dry run at your openers strategy before it really matters.

I’ll be posting up a race simulation workout tomorrow, and trust me, it’s about as hard as any race you’ll ever do.

Stay tuned…

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Saturday, 8.30.14. “Rockit”

•August 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Welcome to the (long) weekend!

Here in the US, it’s the Labor Day holiday

Pullman_strikers_outside_Arcade_Building

…which means a day off on Monday for most people.

Which means a Monday cyclocross race for some people.

If You’re one of those people?

You’ve got a choice to make.

Are you taking the race on Monday seriously?

If so, you should take it pretty easy in your training today.

Go for a nice, easy Recovery Spin, or maybe even take the day off the bike. 

You’ll be doing a little bit of intensity tomorrow to open up your legs and get ready to race, but if you want to be flying on Monday?

Need to chill a bit today.

That’s just one choice, though.

You might also choose to ride through the race on Monday, and sacrifice a bit of performance in this one event for the potential of gains in fitness later on down the road.

How does that work?

Well, basically, you treat race day just like any other training day.

You aren’t trying to be particularly fast or on form for that day, and you aren’t focusing your training schedule on that day.

For a Monday race, training through would mean that you go about your weekend as you normally would, and then just show up at the race after a couple of days of (probably) pretty hard riding, and see what happens.

That might not be a bad way to go this early in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t really tell you if it is or not.

What I can tell you is that if you’re riding through, really ride through.

Don’t half-ass it, or use riding through as an excuse you tell your buddies for having a crappy day.

Go hard this weekend and then just race with whatever is left in your legs on Monday, or take it easy today, hitthe openers tomorrow, and try to give it your best on Monday. 

Either one of those is a good plan.

An indecisive muddling-through, middle ground, neither one nor the other approach, though?

Not a good plan. 

So pick one. 

And rock it. 

Make sense?

So hey… riding through this weekend, or not racing at all this weekend?

Nice.

Today, go for a…

Hard Group Ride –

Get out there and kick some A** on the local roadie ride, or on the trails with your buddies.

Push the pace if and when you can, try and go hard – harder than usual – and see how you recover from some stiff efforts on a course or in a group you know pretty well.

Duration? 3 hours or so. OK to go long(er. Ish.) today, but better to go kinda long and really damn hard.

Try to ride a bit over your head.

Either ride with a group of riders that are just slightly better than you – and ride defensively – or push the tempo at the front with a group that you’re comfortable in.

Have fun!

M

 

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Friday, 8.29.14. “Dial set to Epic”

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well heck… it’s Friday!

Nice. 

For some of ya’all, the race season actually starts this weekend.

Which is bonkers. 

Labor Day Cyclocross?

Yikes.

If you plan to be racing in January, this is just a bit too damn early to really be stepping on the gas. 

So, if you’re racing this weekend? Don’t take it too seriously.

It’s a warm up race, eh?

Have some fun, work some rough edges off the technical bits, and use it as a basis for improvement via your training. 

What the heck do I mean by that?

Well, first of all, take note of the things you do well in the race, and the things you do poorly.

Good start?

Awesome, don’t need to focus on that for a while.

Bad start?
Okey doke, gotta work on the starts.

Run out of gas half way through the race?

Better get some more endurance.

Get stronger as the race wore on?
Excellent.

You get the picture, eh?

Ditto gear.

How is the bike working?
Need to change anything around?

Get that sorted now. 

That’s what the early racing is for.

Figuring that shit out.

Not racing this weekend?

Nice.

If you’re in the US, it’s a 3 day holiday, so get some bike time in if you can.

Go get some fun, long rides in this weekend.

All three days, if possible.

That epic mountain bike ride that you’ve been wanting to do all summer?

Last chance this weekend.

Get ‘er done.

Got a crew that you normally go road riding with? 

Hit ‘em up for a long, aggressive, take-no-prisoners, try to drop each other road ride, or a trip up that mountain pass that you can only do once in a blue moon.

Set your dial to “Epic”.

 

So, that’s this weekend.

What about today?

Well, set the stage for an action packed weekend by taking it easy today.

Either take the day completely off the bike, or go for a…

Recovery Spin – 

- Get on your bike. Roll out into the street, and just spin around for an hour.

Really small gear, no hard efforts – heck, no medium effort.

Spin.

You’re looking to move your legs around in circles, almost like there is no chain on the bike.

The idea is to get your body moving, flush the systems out, and speed your recovery.

When you do your recovery ride – if you have the time – just get out and spin aimlessly.

At a certain point, your legs suddenly feel better.

As soon as that happens, turn around, go home, eat, stretch, and put your legs up.

Relax.

Or at least try to.

Have fun!
M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Thursday, 8.28.14. “Running Man”

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

How’d your skill work go yesterday?

I went out training with a small group of folks, and it reinforced something that most everybody should probably know by now; even some really fast folks still don’t have the basics wired, and do lots of small, technical things wrong. 

You know what?

If you’re really damn fast, really damn strong, it means that you can screw up in lots of small ways and get away with it because you’re so damn strong. 

Might don’t make right, it just makes fast. 

If you don’t happen to have the giant engine that the front of the pack riders have, do you think you’re going to be able to get away with the same things they do?

Yeah… no.

So, please… don’t look to the local fast guy (or gal…) for technique tips. Better idea? Look for that rider who ain’t as obviously strong as all the folks they somehow manage to almost keep up with in the races. 

That’s almost certainly the person who’s getting all the little details right, eh?

So, on with today’s workout.

We’re going to do a bit of running today.

In fact, we’re going to do the same thing we did last Thursday, so check that post out here.

Well, maybe we are.

First, though, a couple of words about running.

Unless you live and/or race in Belgium – where you might just find yourself struggling through half-lap long mud pits – running just ain’t as important in cyclocross as it once was. 

If you’re going to skimp on one part of your training, guess what it should probably be.
Yup. The running part.

Odds are you can do really damn well in almost all the Cross racing you’re ever going to do without spending any time at all running outside of the races.

If you’ve got a job, kids, responsibilities outside of riding your damn bike? You need to maximize the efficiency of your training to get the most out of the limited time you have available.

Training is all about priorities, and running well is just simply a much lower priority than riding well. 

All that aside, though?

You do need to run in cross races, so even if you aren’t going to make it a priority in your training, you can’t afford to completely fall apart the first time you step off the bike.

So here’s what you do. 

Run at least a little bit now, before the season gets underway. 

Once the racing starts, you can let the running take care of itself, but if the first time you run at all is in a race?

It’s going to hurt. 

Maybe even enough to screw up your race.

If you haven’t run at all this season?

Run around the block tonight.

Like, literally around the block.

5-10 minutes. That’s it. 

Do it again tomorrow. 

Just around the block. No more than that. 

Finish your on the bike workout, then run around the block. Immediately after. 

Do that every day for a week, and you’ll probably be good to go in your first race, at least good enough to go.

Of course, if you’re up for it, and have the time, there’s always that running workout I linked to above.

That’ll get your running going. Guaranteed. 

But remember; that time spent running might be better spent riding yer damn bike. 

 

Have fun!
M

 

 

 

 

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 8.27.14. “Mess Around”

•August 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, it’s Wednesday again, and that means it’s…

 CycloCross Skills night!

So, no messin’ around today…

…on we go!

1 – warm up for 10 minutes.

2 – Stretch out after you’re warm. . Pay special attention to all the muscles used in those movements you make hopping on and off the bike that are different from what you usually do.

3 – Dismount/remount  skills for 15 minutes.

- Start at literally a walking pace, and slowly increase speed until you can mount and dismount the bike smoothly and perfectly at full speed. Do not jump on and off the bike, you are looking to smoothly slide yourself on and off.

We worked on the basics of the dismount a week or so ago. Feel like you need a bit of a refresher? Check out the post here.

Do just the most  basic dismount/remount as per above until you have it wired, smooth at all speeds. When you are feeling confident, add some barriers to the session…

- Again, start at a super, super slow speed.

- Approach the barrier, dismount smooth as silk.

- Step over the barrier, paying attention to how you lift the bike, and how you place your feet.

- Remount. Again, think smoooooth….

- Start with a single barrier, move to a double, and keep going slow until you have things wired. Then, speed things up until you aren’t smooth, back it down 1 notch, and make it smooth.

(If you don’t have barriers, anything will do. Use a log, put a stick on the ground – whatever.)

4- Shouldering the bike.

Start with the basic dismount, as you’ve been working on.

Back things up a bit, and dismount again, but really focus on the “drift” phase of the dismount, where you are still clipped in with one foot, your off-side foot has already swung over the saddle, and you are coasting with your left hand on the bars and your right hand on the top tube.

Concentrate on the moment where your left foot unclips, and you drop to the ground. Try to coast with both feet unclipped, weight transferred onto the bike through your hand on the top tube, and your right ass-cheek against the side of the saddle.

Drop to the ground, literally. No big step, nothing dramatic, just drop to the ground.

- I don’t care if you “cowboy” your dismount, or “step-through” (right foot passes between left leg and frame.) Ideally you will work on both, and be equally competent, but there are riders on the World Cup circuit who never do a step through dismount, so… whatever.

Repeat, trying to coast with your weight on the top tube for a longer and longer period of time.

Got it wired?

Good.

This time, drop to the ground and swing the bike up onto your shoulder using the hand on the top tube (next week, down tube grab shouldering. Don’t worry about it right now.)

- Use both a palm-up and a palm-down grip on the top tube. Figure out which one works best for you.

- as you shoulder the bike, think about how you are going to carry it. There are really only two good options…

1 -& 2 -

It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, they both have their advantages. Just pick one. If you don’t look like one of these two pictures when the bike is on your shoulder… well, you should.

So, the bike is on your shoulder.

Run.

It doesn’t have to be uphill (we’re working on the skill, not the fitness, and you’re doing stairs tomorrow…) but it helps.

Whatever. Just run a few steps.

Place the bike gently on the ground. Don’t drop it, slam it down. Just place it.

Remount.

Repeat the whole cycle until you’re sick of it, then on to…

5 – turning and handling skills for 10-15 minutes.

- work on tight, high speed turns as well as super tight low speed turns. Roll some off camber slopes, and learn to turn on them as well.

- Put two traffic cones about 10 feet apart from each other, and ride a figure eight around them, pedalling the entire time.

Make the turns tighter and tighter until you can’t hold the line and you fall down. Learn where the break point is between riding a tight line and falling on your ass, and push that line until you are definitively over it.

6 – Finish the night with two 5-minute efforts on relatively easy terrain.

- “Easy” as in a loop on grass with some tight-ish turns on it, or some pretty buffed double-track.

- Go hard, and work on accelerations out of the turns.

- Every time you slow down entering a turn, get on the gas on the way out of it, ass out of the saddle, working hard.

- 5 minutes full gas, rest for 5 minutes, then go for 5 again.

Warm down, go home, relax.

G’night,

M

The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Tuesday, 8.26.14. “Two for E.A.”

•August 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks,

Well, it’s Tuesday, and I’m pretty sure that by now you know what that means.

It’s Two by Twenty Tuesday!

We do a lot of these over the course of a season, eh?

You know what, though?

As much as we talk about these, and as many of them as people do (or try to do…) I still hear tales of woe when it comes to this workout.

That’s pretty understandable. These just ain’t easy.

This past weekend, when I was out at the WWCX event, E.A. had this to say:
“Now that I’ve upgraded to Cat 3, I can see why I need to do those 2×20’s. The extra length of the race really hurt. Too bad I can’t ever get through the second half of the 2×20!”

Ahah!

Guess what?

This is the single most common issue I hear of people having with these workouts.

They just can’t make it through the second half of the darn workout.

Let’s stop right here for a second, and check out the 2×20 workout description, just so we’re all on the same page…

Pretty simply, the 2×20 looks like this:

- Warm up.

- Go as hard as you can for 20 minutes.

- Recover for 5 minutes.

- Go again for another 20 minutes.

 

Remember, folks, the idea here is to go as hard as you can for the duration of both intervals without being forced to go easier at the end of the second interval.  

This is all about doing two intervals.

Two intervals at as close to the same level of output as you can possibly maintain.

If you’re doing this with a powermeter, you want your wattage output to be as steady and unvaried as possible.

How steady?

Can you keep it in a 10 watt range?

Probably not.

15 watts?

More likely

20 watts?

Try.

Keep it steady.

If you run out of gas before you finish the second interval, then you went too hard.

If your vision isn’t blurry at the end of the second interval, you went too easy. But guess what?
It’s way better to go too easy and finish both intervals than it is to go too hard and crater part way through the second 20.

If you’ve had trouble finishing the workout in the past?

Dial things way back on the first 20 today, and force yourself to finish the second.

Maybe next week you can bring the intensity back up a bit. 

As I always say, these take practice to do well, and the better you get at doing them, the harder they get, as you figure out how to push yourself into a deeper and deeper hole.

This is a workout that’s a natural for the turbo trainer, and that’s how I do ‘em, because I always wind up flat on my back on the floor trying not to puke after the 2nd interval.

That’s not an exaggeration. You should aspire to seeing-spots level of output on these.

Eventually.

After you get a handle on cranking through both intervals rather than just one.

 Eventually, when you learn to push through your limits – really push – you will get better and you will get better fast.

It’s gonna’ hurt, though.

The good kind of hurt.

Have fun!

M

 
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