Training for Dirty Kanza doesn’t have to be complicated. With training advice and Dirty Kanza training plan recommendations from Head Coach Chad, you can build the all day fitness that you need for this ultra-distance event. 


Fitness Required for Dirty Kanza

As with all ultra-endurance cycling challenges, strong aerobic endurance is paramount. The epically long solo gravel grinder that takes place each year in the Flint Hills of East-Central Kansas, known as Dirty Kanza requires riders to have a great deal of physical and mental stamina.

For upwards of 15 or more consecutive hours, riders will need to operate anywhere from 50-70 percent of their threshold. That’s no small task, especially when you add rugged and unforgiving gravel roads to the mix. If you want a shot at making it across that finish line, you’ll need a properly structured training plan aimed at improving endurance and training the necessary energy systems.

Training Plans to Prepare for Dirty Kanza

To prepare for the 200-mile event, Sweet Spot I and II and Sustained Power Build are the recommended Base and Build training phases. For the Speciality Phase before the event, there are a few viable options. While the Climbing Road Race, Rolling Road Race and XC Marathon Specialty plans will all do a good job to prepare you for an ultra-endurance event, Coach Chad’s newly improved Century Speciality Plans are what he recommends most for Dirty Kanza. If you’re interested you can also build a custom training plan for Dirty Kanza with Plan Builder

Dirty Kanza is unique in that the style of racing isn’t typical. Riders don’t attack in the same way they do in a shorter, let’s say 100-mile, ultra-endurance event, as they do in a 200-mile event. For that reason, riders don’t need to train for otherwise typical short, punchy efforts. Establishing and prioritizing endurance is your winning strategy. That’s why once you’ve completed your Base and Build training, Coach Chad endorses the Century Specialty Plan as the best option to prepare for Dirty Kanza.

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Newly Updated Century Plans

The newly improved Century Specialty plans have been revised to fall in line with the newly updated Base and Build Phase training plans. The TSS of these plans ramp up appropriately, rest weeks are true rest weeks, and the workout variety is greater and more interesting. Since the goal of raised steady-state power is the same regardless of 50- or 200-mile goal distances, the newly improved Century plans are great fits for Dirty Kanza and other similar non-technical, long gravel grinders.

Training for Dirty Kanza as a Time-Crunched Athlete

If you’re limited on time to train and you have little fitness, prioritize your Base conditioning above all. Start with Sweet Spot Base I and work your way through it as far as you can before the event. If, however, you have a good amount of fitness going into your training for Dirty Kanza, and again you’re limited on the number of weeks you have left to train, you could jump straight into the new Century plan. If you’re unsure what to do, you can use Plan Builder to build a custom training plan for your time frame. 

Can You Train Exclusively Indoors for Dirty Kanza?

In terms of fitness, you can do all your training indoors and go out and have the fitness you need to finish Dirty Kanza. In terms of course familiarity and preparing your body to deal with the fatigue that mounts over the course of extremely long hours on the bike, using Outside Workouts to prepare for outside riding conditions is recommended.

The Dirty Kanza course isn’t particularly technical, but there are plenty of downhills into turns and some occasional steep pitches. Taking some of your structured workouts outside with Outside Workouts will help you develop the technical skills and handling experience necessary to ride the Dirty Kanza course safely. 

Conclusion

To train for Dirty Kanza, Coach Chad recommends the Sweet Spot Base I and II, Sustained Power Build and Century training plans. If you have less than the recommended 28 weeks to train and you’re lacking fitness, start with Sweet Spot Base I and work your way through as much of the suggested training plan as you can before the event. You can use Plan Builder to accommodate for any time frame that you have. 



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Jonathan Lee

Jonathan Lee is a Level II USA certified cycling coach and the host of the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. His background in the sport of motocross has translated into a passion for cycling, mountain biking and all things training. If you have a training question, submit your question for Jonathan to answer on the next episode of TrainerRoad’s podcast.