Come Cyclocross season, or during the lead up and build to CX season, we are often asked about running. Should our athletes run in preparation for CX? The short answer is- yes. But, it’s not that that cut and dry.
When it comes to running and CX racing, it’s important to think about what type of running is done in a typical CX race. To break it down, here are basic questions to make the answer, and your training, a little more simple.
Is there running in cyclocross? Yes
Is the running fast? Yes
Is the running long and/or for many minutes? No
Is the running basic, in a straight line, on even terrain? No
Is the running variable (i.e. uphill, downhill, different speeds/terrain)? Yes
Does the running require explosiveness? Yes
Does the running require riding a bicycle afterward? Yes
With these questions and answers in mind, we want to make our run training specific to what the demands of CX racing are.
There are two goals when it comes to running and CX racing. 1- maintain momentum, and 2- be able to get through the run section and still have the ability to get back on the bike and race hard (as opposed to recovering).
Now, back to the original question; To Run or Not to Run? If you (the racer) get off your bike and slow down (lose momentum), then you should probably add some CX run specific drills to your training. If you (the racer) are so gassed after getting back onto your bike that you have to soft pedal and recover for a bit, then you should probably add some CX run specific drills to your training.
What are CX specific run drills? We know that the demands of running in CX are so much more dynamic and explosive than being able to run a fast 10km on pavement. The demands of running in CX racing are dynamic, require the ability to have fast leg turn over, jump and land over obstacles, run up steep hills, climb stairs, etc. After doing all of this, the CX racer must get back on their bike and continue riding and racing hard. Good drills and skills to develop this are- quick feet ladder drills, agility drills, plyometrics, and short and/or steep run (sprint) ups. Do these skills and drills on all difference terrain to develop the ability to be strong, powerful, and quick on all terrain.
During race season, if you spend 20-30 minutes one day a week (2x week during the build up to race season) on these skills, your overall run speed, and ability to ride hard after running will improve immensely.