Cyclocross is Hard – Racing twice a weekend and Cleaning it all up is REALLY HARD
As cyclocross season (or what we used to call Fall) starts looking more like winter in many areas it is normal to start feeling your energy for cycling decrease. Where is all the #CXISCOMING? And who stole those fresh September legs!
Regardless of where you live and how you built or failed to build your fitness for cyclocross season, it is a bold goal to take on 1, or 2 (or more!) races for 1, or 2 (or more!) months. Most of us come out of a mountain or road season and neglect to take a mid-season break or rebuild our endurance. We jump into one or two (or more) cross practices (which are races) a week plus the early season races to test our legs, get the intensity and those coveted early points.
The problem is we get tired from the repeated back to back weekends of racing. We miss our weekend fun rides, our endurance decreases, and the weather starts requiring more work to get motivated and prepared for. 1 or 2 (or more!) bikes need to be prepped before each race and repaired after each race. Then work comes Monday. This is tiring just to type!
Are you just racing too much? Re-Focus on The Goal
If your goal was to race until a certain race then that may still be possible. Take a week off hard efforts. That includes cross-practice, zwift, weekly races, and group rides. Go to bed early and do only easy workouts all week. If you have to race on the weekend consider doing only one of the days. If you can get a weekend off. Stay home and get a hard workout in focused on your limiters but not so hard that you are very fatigued. Finish knowing you could do another. The other day should be a longer (whatever that means for you) workout perhaps 90-180min as a rough range. This should make next week and next races go much better. If there is no obvious reason to race twice weekly (including weekly races) than stop doing that and focus on the key races remaining on your calendar.
Getting your indoor training environment setup to make workouts quick and get to sleep earlier will help with short days. Many athletes forget that they can ride indoors and outdoors and don’t put the preparation work in to make sure they have options. Riding outdoors all fall means a lot of cleanups and, eventually, a loss in quality if the weather is always cold and rainy.
Keep focused on recovering from the weekends, perhaps add an extra day easy and reduce intensity days to one mid-week workout plus the racing on the weekend. Skill workouts, especially if limited by your mounts/dismounts or cornering can still be done but, again, watch adding too much intensity. Mud/rain preparation is valuable BUT don’t overdo it, especially after you have done a few of these workouts and races.
Are you racing without a goal?
If you did not have a big goal race or end date for the season then this may be part of why you are feeling slightly off/tired/sad/unmotivated.
How would you feel if you ended the season now?
What are the positives of doing this?
Are there any downsides?
Why race yourself into deep fatigue and low motivation for no reason?
When You do call the season make sure you give yourself a break
Take a week, or two off (or more in some cases). Ease back into some fun rides (as weather permits) and ease into your strength and cross-training. Consider getting blood tests and some testing/assessment for your bike fitness and movement quality.
As a busy, working person you likely don’t need an extended offseason but simply going back to light and varied workouts without racing, competition and travel will have you feeling better and provide for mental recovery quickly.
Start looking towards NEXT YEAR and planning training for that big goal. I have a few more posts on SmartAthlete.ca covering ‘When to start training for your big goal’ and this one on Setting Big Crazy Goals to Motivate Fun Training . You may also like to consider picking goals/races based on the training you want to do and things you will enjoy, which I cover in this post on ‘Can You Prepare for the Goal You have Set?