Criterium Training

How do you train for such a specific race like a criterium?  Criterium training is more than sprint workouts.

Yes VO2 work is needed and you can do the classic workouts to get you part way there, but in our Criterium Intervals Training Plan we are going to go one step further and do exact race replication efforts. To do this you take an old race file and pull it apart effort by effort, from there you create a workout that replicates the most common efforts of the race.

Most criteriums have at least 4 or  more corners. The race we are using as an example is the Longmont, CO criterium which is often time the Colorado Masters Criterium Championships. Due to the nature of the six corner course there is pretty much a guarantee of six efforts a lap and those efforts vary based off of position and how active you are. We wont touch on tactics in this tip because I've already written a tip on how to learn criterium tactics (includes video, so have a look!).

Here is a file from 2015 where you can clearly see the pattern of efforts per lap.

Broken down, the efforts end up being:

5 seconds at 180% of FTP followed by 8 seconds rest

5 seconds at 175% of FTP followed by 10 seconds rest

5 seconds at 180% of FTP followed by 8 seconds rest

13 seconds at 170% of FTP followed by 13 seconds rest

15 seconds at 165% of FTP followed by 5 seconds rest

3 seconds at 175% of FTP followed by 10 seconds rest  

This is obviously a pretty hard workout and for this particular race file the athlete did 1 hour ten minutes of racing, or 60+laps. Instead of attempting to replicate this and destroying yourself in the process we are going to do a build that’s focused on your tolerance of high intensity, with the end goal of being able to do one third of the race in a workout. Accomplishing this will be more than enough to get you ready for race day.

For the build we will start with doing the set twice, giving the body 5 minutes to recover, and then do it again for a total of 4 sets. Each set is 46 seconds of Vo2 and all above 160% of threshold so these should hurt, but over the course of the 6 week plan your body will get stronger and better able to handle the intensity.

Here is the workout built out in TrainingPeaks 

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Isaiah is a FasCat Coach and Category 1 racer out of Boulder, CO. Buy the Criterium Intervals Training Plan reference in this tip here.  To talk with Isaiah about your criterium racing please fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.

About Isaiah Newkirk

Isaiah has been coaching for 12+ years and a FasCat Coach for 6. He came to us as a graduate of collegiate cycling powerhouse Marian University competing in Track, Road, and Cross. Isaiah raced Professionally on the Road for years, racing all over the world, and doing iconic US races such as Tour of Utah and Tour of Colorado. Since "retiring" he has shifted focus to doing races to the likes of LT100, Unbound, and other endurance events. Isaiah started coaching in 2008 when he was asked to coach a little 500 team in his home town of Bloomington, IN. Since then coaching has become a passion for Isaiah and he is eager to help any rider achieve their goals and potential. Isaiah has coached athletes to National titles, World Titles, and to the professional ranks. Isaiah is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach, TrainingPeaks Level 1, Certified Skills Instructor, and was a speaker at the USA Cycling Coaching Summit 2020. Isaiah is also director and performance manager for Domestic Elite Team : Project Echelon.

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