When I see this on my training schedule, I know it’s going to be one of those days. I will go training for a maximum of two hours and come home broken.
Even though it is hard, I also know it is one of my go to sessions to get ready for racing. Due to illness and injury I did not make worlds selection and as it is important to me to end this season on a positive note I decided to skip the January world cups and instead go on a training camp to get fit for the last cyclocross races of the season in Belgium in February. So I did this session twice while in the last block leading up to the races.
What does 15-15-15 mean; 15 seconds sprinting, followed by 15 seconds maintaining the speed, followed by a 15 second rest. Do this for 10 minutes, have a 10 minutes break and do it again. I usually do this 4-5 times, so it simulates the length of a cyclocross race.
What I like about this session is that it is very versatile and yet very specific. And as a bonus, you can do it both on and off road.
This session to me is the best fitness and cx simulation workout. It is also a great session for criterium racing. The 15 second sprint is you sprinting out of a corner, the 15 second maintaining speed is the straight, and the 15 second rest is you coasting into the next corner.
If I am at home or have a cx bike available on training camp I mostly do this session off-road. A quiet field or some trails where you can form a short triangle or square shaped circuit is perfect for this session. Aim for stretches where you can do about 10-15 second sprinting out of every corner, then maintain 15 second and then coast into the next corner. The nice thing about doing this on a little circuit is that you don’t constantly have to watch the time as the circuit dictates your efforts, and you can decide the number of laps before you start.
If I do this on the road I will try and find a quiet road that goes up by 1-3% just to create a little extra resistance. I will slow down before the start of the sprint effort and click through the gears while sprinting for 15 seconds, then I maintain the speed and finish with a 15 second rest where I try and slow down and click up the gears again.
Alternatively, you can use a quiet triangle or squared circuit in a quiet industrial estate or on some deserted backroads. The perfect simulation of a criterium. I usually opt for the straight road option as I am not a fan of doing these with the risk of meeting traffic. If you do opt for option two, these efforts are really hard so please be very careful and look out for traffic, we are all sharing the road!
This session is one that you need a good level of fitness for – as I mentioned, it is very race specific so its one to add in during the last block before the race season starts! Add it in too early and you won’t recover enough in the 15s off and won’t be able to maintain the quality of the sprints!
I am doing another 4 races here in Belgium before a short end of season break, I’ll be back before then with some stories from the road.
Last image: Luc Wilms – Instagram