I personally had a coach 5 years ago for one season and although I was not ready to continue with a structured coaching plan in the years that followed, I took the knowledge and experience from that time and was able to guide myself for the next several seasons. I often ask other elite riders about their training plans and for helpful hints and suggested workouts to improve any areas I may struggle with. This past Spring I started working with a new coach, finally feeling ready for some new guidance with my training.
When I first started racing cross, I found a nearby playground to practice in. I live in the Metro Boston area, which is about 6 miles from the city and about another 6 miles in the other direction to the real suburbs. There are limited parks that will allow cross practice and lots of dogs to be careful of. The best thing to do is go on “exploring rides” on your easy days and scope out local grassy areas, wooded trails and alternatives like corporate parks. You may need to try various times of the day if your schedule is flexible and see when the areas are mostly empty for your use.