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Cyclocross Preparation: To Run or Not to Run

Cyclocross Preparation: To Run or Not to Run

The short answer is yes. But, it's not cut and dry.

by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching (Photo Credit: SnowyMountain Photography)

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 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 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. Maintain momentum and 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 skill and drills on all different terrain to develop the ability to be strong, powerful, and quick on all terrain. 

During the race season, if you spend 20-30 minutes one day a week on these skills, your overall run speed, and ability to ride hard after running will improve immensely.

Happy Training!



Alison Powers

Now retired from racing, Alison Powers is the only person, in history, to win all three road discipline National Championships in one year (Road, Criterium and Time Trial - 2014). These go along with two previous national championships (Time Trial 2008, Team Pursuit 2008), two National Racing Calendar titles, and a 2nd place at the Leadville 100 mountain bike race (2013, 7:26hrs). Today she is the owner of ALP Cycles Coaching where she teaches road, cyclocross, and mountain bike clinics, and high performance race preparation and tactics. Alison is also team director for ALP Cycles Racing, a professional women's road and cyclocross team based in Boulder, Colorado.

ALP Cycles Coaching

Colorado-based ALP Cycles Coaching has over 25 years of professional sports experience. Each coach brings specific strengths and personal experiences to coaching sessions while collaborating to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Learn more at

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