Preparing for a 3000-mile human-powered trip
Getting the Legs Ready
After recovering from a broken toe in December and COVID in early February, Shan is back on his feet. He has been running 10-15 miles most days with some 35-45 milers throughout the week (check him out on Strava here). He practices a training philosophy of running for a purpose (i.e. pick up a prescription, get groceries, etc.). His training runs include site-seeing along country roads, runs to the track, cul-de-sac tours, and grocery-getters. All of these are some combination of long-distance, speed work, and strength training. Mix in a few hundred podcasts, audiobooks, and a Spotify playlist with 2000+ songs, and you've got one well-trained ultrarunner.
Shan's training has been solid and consistent - mine has been squishy and sporadic (as you can see on Strava here). Once we recovered from COVID, I spent time on the bike trainer in the basement doing intervals, one-legged drills, and steady, monotonous spinning. Once the ice and snow melted, I finally got outside. Our neighborhood has no shortage of hills, so each ride has a leg-burning component to it. I need that extra workout though because even with nicer weather, my time in the saddle has been light. I seem to find plenty of non-cycling things to do - prep for the expedition, working, and carving out family time. I'm not training quite as much as I should be, but I'm not too concerned. Within the first 10 days of the expedition, I will be in shape whether I want to be or not.
Protecting our important parts
There are three major issues that we worry about when running or cycling for many hours every day - chafing, chafing and chafing. Luckily, there are some great products out there that will reduce the risk of chafe in sensitive spots - our favorites are 2Toms and Chamois Butt'r. Shan also relies on Tough-Strips Bandaids to protect his nipples from being rubbed raw and XOSKIN toe socks to reduce the chance of blisters. I will protect my bottom by wearing my favorite chamois-lined cycling shorts by Shebeest and also wear Pearl iZumi cycling gloves to absorb some of the road vibrations and reduce wrist pain. These preventative measures worked well for us on the Erie Canal trip, so we are hopeful they work for this expedition, too. Fingers crossed our methods can endure the heat and humidity of the south.
We have experience with multi-day expeditions, Shan more than me, of course, but the East Coast Greenway Expedition presents a different kind of challenge. Shan had a support vehicle (the camper van) for his first USA run, so not only did he have a place to sleep, but he was picked up and dropped off at his stopping point each day. Since the East Coast Greenway run is bike-supported it won't be that straightforward. We probably won't be able to sleep close to his stopping point every day, so that alone will add to our daily miles. Plus there are a lot of things that could slow us down - mechanical issues, crazy weather, wrong turns/detours, so we can only make lodging plans 1 to 2 days in advance. Each day we will need to think about where to eat, do laundry, work, charge computers, shower, and sleep. Since none of this can be done ahead of time, we'll be in "figuring-it-out-as-we-go" mode for the entire 3 months. Even with our amazing spreadsheet, and offers of support, we recognize the uncertainty and are prepared to take everything day by day.
Side note: I am thrilled to be doing this trip with Shan. My friends know how disappointed I was that I couldn't be a part of his first USA run. Due to some unexpected complications, we had to cancel our plans for me to help crew. I was pretty bummed about the change in plans, so this expedition is really special. I don't care how challenging it is. I look forward to being more than a virtual cheerleader this time around. Don't get me wrong, I loved watching his progress and felt so proud to see him accomplish what he did. Even from a distance, his run was amazing to witness. For this expedition, though, I will be there 100%, and it feels pretty awesome. Even with all of the potential obstacles, I look forward to making memories and putting the past another 3000 miles behind us.