ATC 357: Cyclocross Season Workouts And Tips, Grinding Gravel, and Non-Toxic ‘Insanity,’ How To Keep Your Cool And Healthy Balance + Budget Around Clean Living

September 22, 2023


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Intro Banter:

  • Lucho running Ragnar New Hampshire!
  • Lucho’s boys continuing their MTB racing
  • Endurance Conspiracy mention

Mark asks:

Gravel and CX specific workouts?

Hey guys! Cyclocross season is upon us, I’ve been dabbling in races the past couple years and feel like I’m falling short in these hard efforts. Basic question: what are a few key, specific workouts to nail these dynamic hard races?! Also for gravel racing, I’m looking to do longer events, so what prep would you recommend specific to this type of racing?

What the coaches say:

  • Cyclocross fall/winter
    • Make sure base on bike was trained leading up to the season
    • Specificity now!
  • Aspects of Cx racing:
    • Run training–look at 400 and 800 training, not a lot of endurance just some 20-30min runs or hiking with some run intervals
    • The run is not about running well it’s about not losing time and not letting the run hurt you
    • Work on dismounts/remounts!
    • Powerful bursts and sprints at high power.
    • Dynamic courses, skill and technique.
    • Skill level is often the biggest limiter.
    • CX Races 45-60min
    • Zero Z1/Z2
    • All Z4/Z5–it’s vicious! Much of it at FTP or over.
  • What to do:
    • Practice drills like jumping off bike, run, jumping back on.
    • Focus on getting technically proficient while running a very high HR.
    • Example workouts/sets:
      • Long tempo of 20-30min Z3, strong not hard + 3-5min of threshold
      • 4 x 5′ upper Z4 w/ 30-60″ recoveries, this is the same, essentially, as doing a 20min effort
      • VO2, for short punchy hills
        • Eg) 5″-30″ to 40″ in Z5/Z6 above threshold and/or efforts up to 3min (to nail that VO2 specificity)
      • Interval duration of 5”-30” @ peak power or up to 2-5’ high power – and repeating this… 3… 8… 10…15x
      • Critical power workouts, 3-4 sets of 4 x 15″ max/peak power…repetition.
    • Working on high cadence efforts, higher cadence is often necessary in these races on technical spots.
      • Similar to MTB when going thru a technical spot when you can’t use a lot of force
    • Find a hill, eg grassy park ,15 sec to 1min and ride  chill interval ride up at 95-98% effort (Vo2), jump off at top, run down hill then remount bike as you’re going down, practice this all with high HR!
    • Similarities with zwift racing as well so in regards of power intervals you could use that for crosstraining
  • Power and strength!
    • Make sure to get in the weight room, keep it simple.
  • Planning races:
    • On non-race weeks: Can do 2x shorter, intense workouts (Z3, Z4, Z5+) + a tempo/Z3 for a bit of a longer set.
    • Then, be sure to cut back on intense workouts on race weeks.
    • On race weeks, do your hard session on Tue/Wed then race hard on the weekend.
    • Always, start with looking at life objectively, rest/recovery–how much recovery do you need? How’s your life load?
      • Then work backwards to decide how much intensity/training you need/can handle.
      • If having trouble with this, let technology help you eg an Oura ring.
  • Gravel races:
    • Just about a lot of time in the saddle, the terrain.
    • Less high intensity VO2 work needed (especially if you did this for CX)
    • Races start too hard, will you take the bait? need an adequate threshold and then the ability to recovery and bring it back down to Z2
    • Muscular endurance is a big deal.
    • Often hilly, rollers. Punch up to Z3/Z4 and do sets of 5′-20′ work for the inclines.
    • Added fatigue from the terrain. Specificity. Grit. Bike maintenance.
    • Volume is key. Can’t get away with 20min Z2 kinda stuff.

Grace asks:

How To Approach Non-Toxic Living With A Healthy Mindset

For Tawnee: How do you find the balance of pursuing non-toxic living while not losing your mind over all the toxic $%!& in our environment, all the options, all the claims, all the potential risks, etc etc?! It seems like a never-ending rabbit hole that can send us Type A’s spinning.

What the coaches say:

  • It’s definitely a balance, just keep in mind the anxiety and stress over toxins, chemicals and keeping it clean can often be more harmful than the toxin/chemical itself.
  • Kind of similar to that orthorexic mindset regarding food if you’re not careful, I definitely see it as a disorder to live “toxin free” and if not feel anxious about it… and being perfect just isn’t possible.
  • When we’re not well or healing I find this to be the hardest time to have a healthy mindset as we tend to push harder for toxic free life.
  • In one way, pursuing low toxin chemical free living is valuable, important and totally realistic, many of us need this relatively simple overhaul in our lives.
  • But to your point there’s a lot of info out there, and it’s important to be educated, but if you go too far it’s just a lot of fear-inducing propaganda.
  • Awareness is key.
  • Perfection isn’t obtainable.
  • Always assess/reasses how you and your family feel.
  • Some basics to consider:
    • Water–drinking water, shower/bath.
    • House cleaning products, self-care products
    • Consider the products used to dishes/silverware/anything food-related, look at food storage (no plastic), and kid’s lunchboxes (I love this one as well as this one)
    • Choose organic when possible to avoid glyphosate but don’t freak out when you eat out or have to buy an alternative…same with all the things grassfed, non gmo, etc…
    • clean 15
    • dirty dozen
  • Budget wise, it can get expensive so:
    • Watch for black friday deals!
    • Shop on Thrive Market, fir better deals, frequent sales.
  • Brands I like/use:
    • Branch basics–took a while to pull the trigger on this, not cheap up front but lasts so long and worthwhile.
    • Seventh generation cleaner for extra dirty jobs only
    • Air Doc air filters
  • What about clothing?
    • Often unrealistic to buy all organic chemical free clothing.
    • Don’t lose sleep or stress over that which you can’t control (eg Tawnee isn’t worried about all the Lululemon “chemical” clothing she’s work over the years)
    • Prioritize kids stuff: organic onesies for babies, PJs without flame retardants, etc.
  • But also consider the greatest tool you have, your body, so take good care of it!
    • Support detox pathways:
    • Think liver, skin, GI tract, kidneys…
    • Chronic constipation, poor diet, medications, alcohol, slow down our detoxification pathways.
    • Our bodies are made to detox, and this can become impaired but generally we’re equipped with the abiluity to toelrate exposure to various toxins and be fine. This can certainly become imbalanced (which why checking the “big things” may matter) but it’s also an opportunity to trust your body and your environment… and live in harmony in this regard. Feeling stress and anxiety will only fuel the fire. 
    • If you can’t live in your ideal non-toxic environment you can at least control a lot as far as your body’s ability to detox.

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