Whether you plan your first small adventure or breaking an endurance record, preparation and mindset are crucial.
First, I believe that everyone can take on an adventure and do a ride or run that is far longer than most people imagine. The hardest part is actually committing to it and just do it. Through regular sport, your fitness and mindset will improve to the point that you can then take on bigger challenges.
However, if you want to break a record or want to participate in ultra racing, some more preparation, experience and fitness are needed.
While fitness is important, I believe that the mindset gets far more important during long challenges over several weeks and only experience and training can get you to the point of enduring the pain and misery that is part of such an expedition.
So how do I train? Here comes an insight into my preparation for the Panamerica Solo World Record:
Maybe it’s a big surprise but I don’t use a training plan. Over winter I just do sports when I am in the mood (which still sums up to 20-30 hours per week) and do a lot of running, cycling, hiking, swimming and snowboarding. Different sports are good for keeping a general fitness and train muscles that are not used in cycling. The main reason for my relaxed training is that I want to give my mind a break, time to relax and actually anticipate the next challenge. During Eurasia Challenge I was 64 days, 24 hours focused on the world record and not only my body but particularly my mind needed a break.
Around four months before a world record attempt I start consciously preparing myself for the challenge and start looking after my training. I switch to long and slow rides to build up the base condition and come to around 1000 km per week. Additionally, I do fitness training to strengthen my back and other muscles. Moreover, I do several very long rides between 300 and 400 km to get used to the long distances.
Although I still don’t use a training plan during this time, everything in my life is directed towards the world record and I enjoy it extremely to work towards a goal that is meaningful to me. Then 10 days before the start I stop completely with training, do some walks, short rides, swimming and just anything that helps to set the body and mind in recovery mode.
So why am I bike packing North America right now? Wouldn’t it be much better to train at home, sleep in a bed and get pasta and a protein shake each evening?
Sure, in terms of fitness I am probably loosing a few percent. But in terms of mindset and motivation I am gaining far more because it’s not monotonous and I enjoy every single day of it. I basically feel like I’m on a vacation and when I get to the starting line in August I will be motivated and mentally fresh to focus 100 % for several months.
And how does it all sum up in the end? Including the 23.000 km from the he world record I will probably end the year with around 50.000 cycling km, 2.000 running km and a smaller amount of other sports.