Hopefully this will be the first of 3 posts that I’ll get out this week. This one will cover my training for Dirty Kanza, the next one the bike and gear I’m using, and then a final one with goals for the race.
I ended my race season last year in August with the Leadville 100 MTB. It was an OK day and I rallied to break 8 hours after suffering and having bad legs most of the day. In September I did my first gravel race, The Crippler. I didn’t do any specific training for it and just had fun… and it got me hooked and on the path I am now. For the rest of August through October I just did aerobic riding and got back to lifting regularly… something I neglected a lot over the summer. This put me in a good place to actually start “training” in November.
To get ready for Dirty Kanza I reached out to my good friend Cody Waite (Sessions:6). 2017 was my year back just racing my bike since 2012 and I got my fitness back to a good place on my own but wanted to pushed/held back this year. I followed the Sessions:6 Offseason training program. It was 24 weeks of 2 x structured bike intervals and 2 x strength sessions each week. The rest of the days were filled with aerobic miles and big gear work on the bike and jogging with our dogs. With each four week block the focus of the bike workouts changed. Our goal for me was “Fatigue Resistance” with specific bike and strength work. Ultra endurance races are not typically one by who is the fastest but by who slows down the least… or who is the most fatigue resistance.
The progression went…
Aerobic Threshold & cycling drills (ILT & spin ups): Building 5′ intervals at 80% of Max HR
Aerobic threshold + strength (big gear): 15-20′ intervals at 80% of Max HR pushing big gears
Anaerobic Threshold: 8′ & 16′ intervals at 32′ & 64′ power
VO2 Max: 2′ & 4′ intervals at 8′ and 16′ power
Anaerobic Power – 15″, 30″, 60″ intervals at 1′, 2′, 4′ power
Peak Power: 10″ intervals all out
All of the numbers above were based on my FTP using Cody’s testing method which I’ve outlined in another post. I’ve seen a solid progression starting with an FTP of 265 in November at 149 lbs (3.85 w/kg) to an FTP now of 310 at 145 lbs 4.7 w/kg).
This build worked great to me and on paper doing the short, hard efforts may not seem to be beneficial for a 200+ mile gravel race but I disagree. This progression built over cycling fitness and had given me everything I’ll need in a race… and it’s paid off in the races I’ve done so far this year and I can’t wait to let it rip on Saturday and truly test myself.
The other component was twice weekly strength training sessions that typically took about an hour each to complete…. all done my garage. We focused on squat and deadlift and to sum it… I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. I peaked at squatting just over 200 lbs for 1 rep max and deadlifting 300 lbs. Both life time personal bests and a huge contributor to the power I’m putting out on the bike and my endurance at 40 years old. Plus… I’m leaner than I’ve been in a couple of years… and without trying.. which brings me to my next aspect of training…. diet and nutrition.
Maggie and I don’t follow any kind of “diet”. We just eat a lot of what we consider good food and it’s pretty simple. A lot of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, good fat, and plenty of carbohydrates to fuel what we do. It’s not rocket science. I eat a lot but never track calories or anything. I just know what I need and know that if I’m eating good foods I don’t need to think about it that much. I never cut out beer or anything like that. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you know I love good IPAs and enjoy often. Not once this year did I try to drop any weight. My big focus was on fueling my workouts and being strong. These days I’m right around 148 lbs year round. It likely goes up a pound or two and down the same amount. Once it gets hot like it is now my weight seems to drop a bit like it has this year (145 now). I don’t jump on the scale often… maybe once a month. it’s not something I think about.
To sum it up… at 40 years I believe I am the fittest I have ever been on the bike (the power numbers back that up) and easily the strongest. This gives me a lot of confidence heading in Saturday’s race. I’m ready to unleash it and reap the benefits of the hard work I’ve put in the past 7 months. Huge thanks to Cody for getting to where I am right now… and to my wonderful wife and rambunctious daughter… you guys give me the motivation and drive to be my best at everything… everyday.
I think that’s it for the training side of things…