Recovery is a cornerstone of fitness and form. If you are a cyclocross racer you are almost surely training at a level that induces fatigue, while recovery allows your body to repair and increase form and fitness.  Back in the day, pre-Joe Friel periodization model, overtraining was the norm in endurance sports.  It’s pretty easy to do if you have an obsession like we do for cross.

Overtraining can have effects ranging from tired legs on race day in its most common form, to an extreme as severe as the premature retirement of a professional athlete. Per Mr. Friel “overtraining is best described as a decreased work capacity resulting from an imbalance between training and rest”.  If you have a bad race there is at least a decent chance that you have not given yourself the rest needed to recover up to that point.  When many athletes have worse than expected results though they do the opposite of what is necessary to address the issue….they train more.

Classic symptoms are lower power numbers, higher heart rate, general fatigue, irritability and a disinterest in training and racing. You don’t want to get to this point!  We know that most people can handle 3 – 4 weeks of hard training and racing before needing a “week off” for recovery.  So your best bet for success is to look at your season ahead of time and plan those recovery weeks into your schedule so that you feel good when it counts.  If you’re racing cross every weekend you may have a less than stellar race directly following a recovery week.  This varies from person to person and can be disconcerting if you’re not used to plugging rest into your program but, trust me, it’ll pay off in the weeks to come.  Assuming that you are racing every weekend during the ChiCrossCup series, a typical recovery week looks like this:

Monday – off or strength training (strength maintenance phase this time of year)

Tuesday – off

Wednesday – 1 – 1.5 hour zone 1-2 ride

Thursday – 1 – 1.5 hour zone 1-2 ride

Friday – off

Saturday – opener

Sunday – race

Likewise, you need to include recovery days within each week. These can be easy zone 1-2 workouts (“workouts” because strength training and running count) or completely off.  2 – 4 rides with high intensity and/or long duration per week, including race day, are about all a human being can handle.  Take easy recovery rides in between them.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelley