US Cyclocross Nationals is about 8 weeks away (depending on when you are reading this) and there is still time to train smart and train hard in a way that will have a significant positive influence on your race results. I like to use the Performance Manager Chart to peak for cyclocross nationals.  The “PMC” is a chart in TrainingPeaks that provides a 10,000 ft aerial view of an athlete’s training volume and coinciding ‘form’.  As I design an athlete’s daily training plan, I use the PMC to massage their form to be the best possible it can be at cyclocross nationals.

What is the Performance Manager Chart, you say? Its the graph generated from the athlete’s power data and projected Training Stress Scores (TSS)  you see below. Way, way back in 2004 when myself and group of coaches and sport scientists were developing this performance model, I nicknamed it “TSTWKT“.  But I digress….

How to Use the PMC Chart to Peak for Nationals

To set up your performance manager chart read these instructions in a tip we wrote here.

Two big opportunities for training stand out for the master cyclocross athlete who brings the bacon home, 9-5:

    1. the 4 day Thanksgiving Break
    2. the week before Xmas


These are two blocks of time for training that are absolutely necessary for working masters cyclocross athletes. The biggest reason is that most masters cx athletes have been racing every weekend and haven’t actually had time to train other than to maintain and sharpen their form. Athletes can run out of base racing and recovering week in and week out. The four days over the Thanksgiving ‘long weekend’ plus the week before Christmas present just the kind of opportunity for athletes to train and push their training load higher for nationals.

In the Performance Manager Chart above you are looking at a 59 year old master cyclocross athlete’s training data [with a 50 hour a week career, Monday through Friday]. The solid line through November 7th represents his training data: training load and form. The dashed lines after November 7th represent the projected training volume from the athlete’s day-to-day training plan I have designed in TrainingPeaks.

Race ‘n Recover till Thanksgiving:

The athlete’s training load (chronic training load/CTL) will remain in the low 60’s from a race ‘n recover style of training until Thanksgiving. Preference will be given to recovery and having good form for his weekly races. In order to maintain his training volume we are only racing on Saturday so he can train on Sunday; thereby maintaining his CTL – aka keeping his eyes on the National Prize. I modeled out his performance (and know from experience) that if he/we were to race both days in November he’d run out of base and form by December to the point of not being able to put in the hours before nationals. This is the ‘Eyes on the Prize’ I mentioned – cx athletes need to do one long ride (2-4 hours) per week in order to maintain aerobic conditioning for nationals.

1. The 4 Day Thanksgiving Training Block:

Once this athlete hits Thanksgiving, this is where we’ll move the needle upwards (his CTL) with a 4 day training block. Following thanksgiving we’ll take a rest week to eek out as much form and race results as possible for the next two weekends.  The Thanksgiving training block not only contributes to nationals but has the added benefit of improving the athlete’s form for his State Championships 2 weeks later. For those 2 weeks the athlete will rest and rest some more, performing only one hard workout per week on Wednesdays. This ‘rest block’ will also rejuvenate the athlete for the final block of training for nationals.  Even better because the athlete did a good training block over Thanksgiving. His form will be positive and he’ll get a good race result at States which will give him confidence for nationals. A whole host of benefits that is all made possible from a 4 day Thanksgiving training block.

2. The Pre-Christmas* Training Block:

Similar to how the 4 day Thanksgiving block sets the athlete up for States, the pre-Christmas training block picks up on that form and will use it to peak for nationals. Therefore the periodization of this block calls for 7 days of good old fashioned advanced aerobic endurance aka, you guessed it: sweet spot training. Its the best way to move the needle (CTL)! In the PMC above the athlete will increase his CTL from 63 to 75 in nine days and 24 hours total from Saturday December 16th until Sunday December 24th. This is a massive bolus dose of training that necessitates an equally epic rest week to digest.

*this training block is dependent on two things:

  1. when you will actually have to to do it
  2. your age. The older you are, the longer you need to taper down into Jan 10-12th.  The younger you are the less. To keep it simple if you are a 60+ racer get in your final training block before xmas and taper for 3 weeks. If you are 40 & 50+ your training block occurs inbetween Xmas and New Years allowing for a 14-17 day taper.

3. Taper and Peak:

This epic rest week will coincide with the beginning of the athlete’s taper* down into Nationals. The older the athlete, the longer the taper, I’ve found in my coaching experience. Twenty-somethings get a 10 day taper whereas 60+ racers get a 3 week taper. 4- and 50+ racers need  12 – 17 day tapers to come into a true physiological peak.

Even though the athlete is tapering it does not mean they are doing short easy rides; on the contrary: they are doing high-end, sharp, cyclocross specific intervals like Tabatas. With that, I am still taking the athlete’s training load from 75 down to 61 on race day for a training stress balance of + 22. A TSB of +22 is on the same level for when this athlete was winning races in the 3 week planned period in the last week of September and first 2 weeks of October. See the orange rectangle “Great Form, Won Races, +’ve TSB”.

This performance manager chart is one example out of many possibilities to plan a peak for cyclocross nationals. However the coach and athlete arrive to the start line in Reno on race day, a peak performance will rely on the 3 key training blocks outlined and illustrated in the performance manger chart above.


Want to follow an age based training plan so you can peak in six weeks at Cyclocross Nationals? Try ours designed with the exact key elements of this training tips. $49 Six Weeks to Peak for Cyclocross Nationals.


Copyright 2017, FasCat Coaching

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Frank is the founder and owner of FasCat Coaching in Boulder, CO.  To discuss how you can peak for your State Championships OR Nationals, please call 720.406.7444, or fill out a New Athlete Questionnaire to set up a Coaching Consultation.