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Can I train indoors for Cyclocross?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you won’t have been able to miss the meteoric rise of cyclocross. If you refuse to limit your winter season to the track and don’t mind trudging through mud, puddles and sandpits with your bike on your shoulder, it might just be the sport for you.

However, despite a cyclocross devotee’s seemingly unbothered approach to mud, wind, rain and every other adverse training condition under the sun, indoor training still has its place. Typically 40 minutes to an hour-long, involving multiple laps over short circuits and obstacles, cyclocross races test a rider’s V02 max and threshold levels - elements that can be successfully trained and replicated on an indoor trainer.

So what should a training week look like?

Typically, a cyclocross race would take place on a Saturday or Sunday, with the occasional double-race weekend. Assuming a race takes place on a Saturday, this is what we would recommend for the rest of the week…

Sunday

The day after your big race, weather permitting, of course, make the most of being outside with an endurance ride, working on your base endurance at a fairly low intensity. Scheduling this into your Sunday allows you to still train for a while before a busy week, so you can spend days where you’re a bit shorter on time on more specific efforts. 

Two hours should do it, but if you’re struggling after the antics from the day before, swap in some active recovery. 

Monday

After you’ve cleaned off your bike following Saturday’s muddy race, reward yourself with a rest day. It is Monday after all!

Tuesday

Make Tuesday the first indoor session of the week and introduce some Unders and Overs, which will enable you to concentrate on some above threshold work. You can find an Unders and Overs session in the Endurance session category on the free Wattbike Hub app. 

Wednesday

Midweek is a great time to practice any bike handling skills that might need polishing. Take some time outdoors to practice seamless dismounts and remounts, running with your bike, cornering and going through mud. 

Thursday

Consider building in a V02 max session into your training plan. This will help to acclimate your body to be able to sustain the required intensity, as there is little room for recovery during a cyclocross race. Try the Cyclist V02 max builder workout, available on the Wattbike Hub. 

Friday

If you’re looking to race on Saturday, it’s a good idea to use Friday to get those legs going. We suggest 30 minutes on the indoor trainer at zone one or two (high cadence), combined with a 10-minute sweet spot effort, followed by a couple of big one-minute efforts at threshold power to get your legs opened up. Alternatively, you could do 15 minutes at 50% of your FTP, followed by four sets of 30 seconds efforts at 150% with five minutes rest in between sets, ending with 10 minutes at 50% of your FTP. 

Need a little help finding some motivation this autumn? Here are five ways to keep on top of your training when the nights start drawing in.