The Australian National Cyclocross Series kicks off this weekend in Bright, Victoria. This will be my third season after buying my first cross bike two years ago. I was unprepared in my first season, taking cross up on a whim after months off the bike due to illness. However, I fell in love with the sport and threw myself into it, ending the season with six weeks racing in Belgium over December 2015 – January 2016.
My second season started slowly after returning from Belgium, and while I achieved consistent top five results in the National Series, I only got onto the podium once. It was a dissatisfying year for me due to a mix of bad luck and not being at the level needed to contest the win.
Now poised at the start of my third season I am feeling positive about how I have handled my preparation and would like to share a few of those key areas of focus with you.
- Strength Training
It has now been over a year of incorporating gym sessions into my training and the benefits are noticeable on and off the bike. This is probably the most ‘bang for buck’ improvement as I only do one gym session a week (one hour)! This session is basically a short warm up and then sets of either deadlifts or squats – yep, not very complicated.
Since starting gym I have had noticed many changes including:
- Pretty much eliminated my lower back pain on the bike,
- Increase in maximal power,
- Better repeatability in high power efforts, and
- Much less whole-body soreness on longer rides
I am now a complete believer in strength training and I love that once a week can still have noticeable benefits without replacing time on the bike.
- Bread and Butter Threshold
While there are always things to improve, I looked back on last season and knew that I was losing races due to insufficient fitness. Due to the less technical nature of Australian cyclocross courses, fitness becomes an even bigger part of the puzzle. Additionally, looking at power data from the international female cyclocross riders, their Functional Threshold Power is generally over 4.0 W/kg.
So, back to the building blocks of racing –improving your threshold power.
There are a million articles on the internet about how to train your threshold from people far more knowledgeable than me. I think the hardest part is that these sessions can be tiring and not very enjoyable so you have to find your own motivation. Improvement is slow and I still need more time to get to the numbers I want for the National Championships but I am happy with where I am heading.
- Eat More Veggies
I have been changing up my dinners to low carb meals, with the rice/pasta/starchy-carb replaced with vegetables. More generally, eating more carb around races/intense training sessions and less carbs on recovery days/lower training phases. I put this third because I am still working this one out but the reasoning is that if you are going to eat either way you may as well make it better for you. Note of warning, the people you live with will eventually get sick of bok choy, spinach and cauliflower rice.
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Hope you enjoyed a little insight into some of the things I have been doing over the last couple of months. Let me know what you have been doing and if you have any questions. I hope to see you at the cyclocross races coming up!