Double Trouble

Wednesdays are days that I look forward to and kind of dread at the same time…. This is my standard double training day. This day is all about running and cyclo-cross riding. Now I love getting out on my cyclo-cross bike (obviously!) and ripping around the trails and local parks but the running part is not the most fun. I used to be a runner – a very very slow runner – in fact I even ran a marathon back in the day.

These days my running is reserved for crack-of-dawn Wednesday morning 30 minute sessions with the focus on running up hills and running in the sand. I typically start slowly but by the end, I feel like I’m flying – of course this is all relative since I’m a cyclist first and a runner a distant second. I do have to say that over the last few weeks I have noticed that my running strength and hill running recovery has improved a great deal. For most cyclo-cross racers, running is not a favoured component of training but if you’re racing a lot and particularly in Europe – you need a running game. The rumour is that Bart Wellens used to run with his bike on his shoulder as part of his training – and if you’ve seen Bart run – wow this guy can fly!

As for the on bike training – Wednesdays are all about skill training. Now it is lots of fun to get out and practice the stuff you’re good at – the trick to cyclo-cross training is really focusing on weaknesses or “need to improve areas”. So what did I do today? Well, my starts aren’t the strongest part of my cyclo-cross racing game and I also struggle with steep uphill climbs. In my mind these two skills/aspects are related – both require fast punchy power and explosiveness. Today I sought out some steep climbs and worked on starting and accelerating up and over these climbs. I played around with gearing. I worked on distance as well – how close can I get to the hill and start from a stopped position? I learned a bunch today about gearing and where I start to bog down on the climbs. I also really focused on using my entire body to get over the last little bit of these climbs – my arms, shoulders, lower back and abs were all firing along with my legs.

Another thing I decided to work on today was descending. Some of the descents in Belgium really scare the “you-know-what” out of me. So my goal today was to find some tricky, technical, bumpy and longish descents. Luckily I found an area where some new roads are being built and there are a couple of massive hills made out of gravel, dirt and who knows what – this worked out really well. I was able to use these hills to work on my technical climbing skills and then turn around and focus on the descending – I played around with braking, not braking, feet clipped in, body position. The other thing I did to day was think about “always be pedaling”, this meant that my feet had to be turning over at all times. I find that when my brain starts working, my feet stop turning….

So this is how my double Wednesday played out. Needless to say, I’m a bit wiped now! But this is okay because Thursday is the almighty rest day – all I’ve got on the schedule is a hot power yoga class.

As challenging as Wednesdays can be – I really do look forward to them. I’m able to work on real cyclo-cross skills and get immediate feedback on how I’m progressing with my technical and running skills. I’m curious to know how you’re training your cyclo-cross technical skills….

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