Kenton Berg finds his form and power returning after testing the sharpness of the local pricker population. ©Andrew Malakoff

Kenton Berg doing what he loves - racing 'cross! ©Andrew Malakoff

Not sure if you’re training effectively? Have some ambitious goals for the season but feel like your racing has plateaued? Cyclocross Magazine’s Kenton Berg has been stuck in this situation and decided to seek professional help. This is his seventh entry. Read his previous entry here.

WHAT IF…

What if I hadn’t gone skiing… if I hadn’t had that early season injury and setback, would my results have been better? What if I’d chosed to run 30 lbs of pressure instead of 28, or used a different tire? You see where I’m going with this?

In life there are a lot of “what ifs” and this year I’ve had my fair share during this ‘cross season. While we can spend a lot of time what-iffing about past events, it’s not always the most productive way to look at things. But maybe this is the year you should do a bit of what-iffing. I say this because if you’ve had a good season, but feel you can do better, then you might look from the “what if I had a coach” perspective – could you have had a better year? Or, “what if I had trained with power this year” – could you have made more gains? A look back at the season is a good time for some what ifs, some reflection and evaluation of things gone bad and/or good. What if I spent more time on my barrier skills or what if I did more races? Now it’s time for you to fill in your own what ifs. You see, doing some what-iffing can actually be productive as it relates to your ‘cross racing. If nothing else, it will make you think more about some of the
things you could have done to be better, faster or smarter in your racing.

Now, beyond spending some time what-iffing, it’s time to take a look back at what you learned or gained. In my case, even though I have had my share of issues, I did get a lot out of the year. Here are some examples of what I learned:

  • A coach can really help you work out the kinks and set up a good plan for the season.
  • I can make gains by utilizing quality training, not quantity.
  • Tubulars are the way to go and I learned how to glue my own.
  • Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches are my best race day food.
  • I’m typically best on the 3rd day of riding/racing hard, not the first.
  • Running in the sand is really hard if you haven’t done any running.
  • A hard warm up session before racing is key to having good race for me.
  • Prior proper planning prevents poor performance (the 6 p’s) – plan for weather, race times, flats, etc. Planning of details is key, don’t forget to do it.
  • I learned how to use the power meter to train, measure results and to guide my resting needs.

Not that this is my complete list, but you get the idea. I didn’t have the season I had hoped for but, as I sat down and reviewed things, I realized I had gained a lot this year. As I went through my season review with Coach Kristi (another good benefit of a coach is the 3rd party review), I also discovered that I made gains in my training numbers. Her review of my power files showed I had made good increases in my watts by late October and early November when I was able to train at full pace. These gains were made at the high end (threshold and VO2 max areas), which coincided with my good race results. This validates that the plan we were working on was helping me progress as the season wore on and we believe that, had I not sustained the season-ending injury, I would have been at or near peak by Nationals. This is what the plan was from the start of the season and it seems it was right on track.

As an update to my personal situation, I’ve spent the past 3 weeks sitting and/or lying around with a bag of ice on my knee recuperating after surgery. I spent the weekend of Nats watching Cyclocross Magazine’s awesome live coverage and missing the action (I was slated to race in 2 races). I’ve begun physical therapy and already have 70 degrees range of motion. I get to shoot for 90 at week 4 and past that after week 6. Unfortunately, I have a long way to go to get back into the mix, but I only need another 40 degrees of ROM to get back on a bike and pedal. That is the day I’m dreaming of now, my first big goal of 2010. That will be my salvation. Then comes dropping the 10+ lbs I put on while eating and drinking and watching football, but that’s another issue for another column, maybe next spring!

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my journey through a season of power-based training and coaching.

Thanks for reading and happy pedaling.