Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#Cyclocross: Surviving The Holiday Abyss

The faded workout has treated me well
My Christmas list sadly begins with socks.  The other thing I’m working on in early December is how to bridge the fitness abyss of after-work darkness, St. Nick’s candy, Dorothy's ham gravy, and a marathon of New Years Eve parties between now and Cyclocross Nationals.  Then it struck me like a V8 vegetable juice palm slap upside the forehead, my modified Chris Carmichael workout.  It’s an hour long, burns nearly 800 calories and is a good general power workout.  I scribbled it down on post it note which remarkably, 3 years later, is still adhering to the side of the 1987 13-inch TV in front of my trainer set-up. 

I’m no coach, which is precisely why I have no problem copying Chris Carmichael’s workout, modifying it and then dispensing the result as my own for free.  While others charge for their training secrets or leave you wondering what kind of incredible workout they did to post quotes like this to Facebook: “contact and put that trainer on my victims list,” I have no problem telling you what has got me this season’s incredible mid-pack results and kept me off the podium.  All kidding aside, I started the season finishing in the mid 30’s and now I’m knocking on the door of a top 20.  While no one has noticed this incredible performance but me, something must be working.  Either that, or the 15 Ohio Valley Elite Cyclocrossers I think I’ve become faster than have been abducted by aliens. 

Come Nationals and Worlds time, one thing is for certain, some people will be slower than they are this weekend.  Some will be faster.  I prefer the latter.  If the thought of racing cyclocross past Sunday doesn’t make you want to cry for mama between bouts of the pukes, I think the best you can do at this point is sharpen your fitness and skills over the next 3 weeks.  Come New Year’s day, aside from rest, there’s no interval workout that’ll make you any faster.  So really, you’ve got about 3 weeks to polish that middle of the pile turd.  Chop chop.

As far as skills, I'll try to spend at least one day/week on the cross bike practicing dismounts, starts, and hill carries.  It probably wouldn't hurt to do some running in there too.  I've lived in Wisconsin in January.  I've had to dig my car out of 17 inch snowfalls.  There's no guarantees you'll be riding your bike at Nationals.  Aside from that and keeping your core solid, you still can get quicker and snappier.  While the original workout is listed below, over the years I’ve adapted the structure to specific cyclocross workouts.  Do the warm up, pick the 15 or 30 sec interval workout and be off the trainer at 60 minutes even.  I like to start at 6:30pm with the evening news and finish up with Extra-Extra!  Print it out and tape it to your TV.

6 Min Easy Warm Up
1 Min Fast Pedal 110-120 rpm
1 Min Recover
1 Min Fast Pedal 110-120 rpm
1 Min Recover

OPTION 1: CX ATTACK 15 on 15 off Interval Insert
5 minute set of 15 on 15 off.
In a hard gear, 53x14ish, simulate starting, punching it out of corners, driving up a short steep hill. 15 sec attacking as hard as you can, 15 sec no pedaling (coasting.)
5 min rest.
Repeat set 5 times.
5 minute easy pedal cool down.

OPTION 2: CX STICK IT 30 on 30 off Interval Insert
5 minute set of 30 on 30 off.
Simulate the effort you’d put in hammering straightaways between course features.  Don’t punch it at the beginning, ramp up to a 100% effort you can sustain for 30 seconds.  Recover in between efforts with a  high cadence spin. 
5 min rest.
Repeat set 5 times.
5 Minute easy pedal cool down.

OPTION 3: ROAD/HILL POWER (The Original Carmichael Workout...more or less)
Five 2 minute efforts with 2 minute fast spin recovery in between.
The two minute effort should be steady and sustained, but as hard as you can handle without loosing power for 2 minutes.  Think hammering a breakaway.
Recover with easy spin for 6 minutes between sets.
Repeat 5x2 efforts a 2nd time.
8 Minute Easy Spin Cool Down.

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