As I sit here behind my keyboard and think back to Oct 26/27 2018 where I was behind my handlebars competing in the 6-12-24 World Time Trial Championships in Borrego Spring, CA. I attempt to bring together my thoughts on my pre-race, race, my training, my nutrition and most of all my head. In order to break them down for you, I must attack each one individually. I will start with the easiest, my training;
Training: As a single guy with a big job that requires much travel and many hours at work, training can be extremely complicated and quite difficult to find the time to plug in. What this means is this, awake early, sometimes 4.00 AM. Fight back the sleep with a good cup of coffee and a couple heavy pulls of IGNITE. Being very regimented in your training and hitting those muscle groups that you will be relying on for your event. In this case, a 24-hour bike race. So, neck, shoulders, Bi’s and tri’s, lower back and legs, legs, legs until failure or damn near. Hit them hard and hit them often. I say failure because it is what works for me. In my sport, you must continue to push your failure to higher and higher levels. Find your inner pain cave and digging it deeper every time. It’s not an easy task to will your body to find that new level of joyful suck. Training is always harder than the actual event for me. Day after painful day, run, ride, throw 100’s of pounds of sandbags around, core work, eat, sleep, drink, repeat. They say train like you fight, so……..
Nutrition: In the world of Ultra you really can eat whatever you want too. For an average event (20+) hours your body is starved for calories. It does not care where you get them, it just wants them. Like a frenzied Great White at feeding time. My last event, I had burned 15,000 calories in twelve hours. Now as we all know, it is impossible to eat that much even if you are at a hotdog eating contest. So you must eat smartly. Real food is king in my world. Sweet Potatoes with butter and salt (lots of), salty ham with cheese and pickles, Ensure Plus (which a super quick source of calories), beef or chicken soups for the calories and sodium. All this you really should eat while you train so your body does not reject it and you end up sick, queasy, crampy and any of those wonderful things the will happen during an event. This is one surefire way to end your event early and worse, injure yourself. Your diet and your hydration will make or break your race or event. I personally feel that this is somewhat more important than training, so, I will spend a bit more time here. Anyone can grind through an event with some basic fitness, you may pay the man for a couple days but you can still do it. But if you are not feeding or hydrating the machine, YOU ARE DONE. Hydration is equally important, water, calories, water, water, electrolytes, water. Did I mention water? If you are not peeing during your events, you are setting yourself up for an epic crash of biblical proportions. You will shut down. You will visit the EMT or take a ride in the back of an ambulance. During my last event, I consumed roughly eighteen, 14-ounce bottles of water, twelve bottles of ENDURE, forty-one salt tablet, twenty or so electrolyte tablets over the 24-hour event. With temps ranging between 63 degrees and 97 degrees, in the dry desert environments, you may see why it is important to stay ahead of your hydration. Even with all of that, when I completed my event, it still took me hours to pee again. Consider it this way, remove all of the fluids from your car and drive it hard for as long as it will go……See what happens.
If you notice, there is no mention of sugars in here. Candy bars, Soda, gel packs, energy bars are huge in sugar and will only set you up for an upset stomach and bloated gassy guy. I stay away from all of this as a primary source of nutrition. I will drink a coke or a bottle of soda water at the end of my event to expel gasses from my gut. (BUUUUURRP) But I stay away from all of the high sugars in all of the other products.
Your Mind: (the mental muscle) If you want to fuck up your event. start letting the misery, pain, fatigue, hunger, environmental conditions or mistakes enter into your head. It is easier to come back from minor dehydration then it is to come back from a fractured mind. The one thing that is the hardest to get strong and the first to break. I’ve witnessed some of the most physically strong people fail in their endeavors due to a weak mind. This muscle (what I call it) is fragile, it can be manipulated and talk into things to make you comfortable and happy. There are hundreds of books, if not thousands, that will teach you just how to train your brain. But reading is not going to make it stronger in this regard. Getting your ass out there on a shit day and getting it done all while keeping a positive outlook will begin to help. Logging massive miles, hours and fighting through your mental misery and fatigue will help you, remaining positive, have fun, embrace the suck, welcome it, don’t fight it. Make the suck your friend, give it a name and invite it into your world. Then and only then will you be able to see just how strong your mind is and what your body will do when your mind tells it to do something. Embrace the Suck.