7 Weeks

“Since you’re still 6 weeks out from DK, we’re going to keep building up until Almanzo, then figure out your taper.”

Wait. 6 weeks?!? I nervously laughed and then immediately checked my calendar after getting off the phone with my coach, Bush.

It’s technically 7 weeks out, but knowing that did little to alleviate my nerves. We’re officially 7 weeks and a few odd days out from Dirty Kanza. What have I done.

For anyone who either a) lives in the Midwest or b) knows me or someone else who lives in the Midwest, you know that we’ve been dealing with a shit spring. Low temperatures going below freezing every night (and many days) plus the typical spring precipitation has meant that winter hasn’t really left yet. It’s actually supposed to snow again this weekend too — several inches of snow and 30mph wind gusts. Cool. I did a little unscientific math based on my Instagram photos and, by my account, the Twin Cities got its first snowfall of the season on November 11, 2017. If this weekend is the last time we get snow, we will have essentially experienced 156 days of winter.

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This is pretty typical for what my post long ride drivetrain has looked like recently.

Beyond just sucking from a mental perspective, this weather has made certain aspects of training for Dirty Kanza tough. I’ve been pretty on top of getting in my back-to-back weekday trainer workouts, but the longest weekend ride I’ve been able to complete is just 70 miles. And that was 3 weeks ago.

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The other Flint Hills.

More concerning than the fitness aspect of getting long rides in (I’m actually feeling okay there), are the nutrition and mental aspects. When my body is under a lot of stress, my GI system has a tendency to go completely haywire. I’ve completely cut out caffeine and decreased my alcohol consumption by about 90%, which has helped a lot. I also cleaned up my diet a bit. I wasn’t really a sweets person to begin with, but now I eat very little processed sugar…with the exception of chocolate of course. Since I can’t really practice eating on the bike at the moment, that’s been the most that I can do to prepare my stomach for the rigors to come.

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Yeah, that’s glare ice.

Mentally, I need to make sure that my brain doesn’t freak out and give me an anxiety attack just because my body is sending it stress signals. My mental state is the main reason why I raced very little last year and one of my primary concerns this year. I had to get off Prozac this winter for a couple reasons, but one of them was that it took all my drive and motivation away. Of course, that drive and motivation is also what contributed to my anxiety in the first place so it’s a delicate balance. One thing that’s helped a lot is meditating every day. I bought a subscription to the Headspace app and am currently on a 24-day streak, with 5+ cumulative hours of meditation. The app is great for people like me who are competitive by nature (I need to keep my streak going!) and who need to be told how to meditate (there’s this gentle-sounding Australian guy who guides you through all the meditations).

The other tactic I’ve employed sounds really stupid and intuitive, but it works! I started to actually keep track of how hydrated I am. Turns out being dehydrated also makes your body send stress signals to your brain and, if you’re chronically dehydrated (from say…working out every day), that can take a huge toll on your body’s health and stress levels. TL;DR drinking water can help with anxiety disorders. Who knew!?

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40 degrees AND blue skies?! We’ve had like 3 days like this so far this year.

That’s pretty much all I have update-wise for now. If anyone else has tips for preparing for an endurance event when you can’t ride outside much, please let me know!

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