Catching Up with Katie Compton
We caught up with Katie Compton after her victory in Baal at the GP Sven Nijs, a victory that also won her the overall in the season long DVV Trofee (Eleven events throughout the season from October to February). Katie has 13 USA National Titles, numerous World Cup victories, and is chasing her first World Championship victory. (Feb 2018, Valkenburg, Netherlands).
Staying in Belgium seems to be working, what’s the program from here to Worlds? tapering? nutrition?
Katie: I’ve really enjoyed being in Belgium for the season and love the racing right now. I’m happy I had the opportunity to finally race a full season in Belgium and not have to deal with the back and forth across the ocean and recovering from the jet-lag. The older I get, the harder it is to feel well and perform, so I really have to dial in my training, rest, travel, and nutrition to race well. At this point, I’ll recover from the Christmas cross races as I travel back to CO and then to Reno for nationals. I’ll get a few good training days in prior to national championships and then final preparation for the last World Cups and Worlds. I’d love to do a proper taper for Worlds, but honestly, I’m not tired enough to need a full taper, so I’ll manage my intervals and recovery to build for Worlds as best I can. My races leading up to Worlds will be Nationals, and then back to Europe for the Nommy WC in France and Hoogerheide WC in the Netherlands. My last race of the season will be the DVV race in Lille Feb. 10th.
As for nutrition, that pretty much stays the same for me all season, I’ll try to eat a little less in the weeks leading up to Worlds since it is a climb-y course, but I won’t make any major changes food-wise before that, mainly just eating a little less at dinner. It’d be good to be a little lighter for that one since it’s a climb-y course, but we’ll see how that goes…this body likes to keep it’s insulation through the winter;)
We’ve talked about your health issues related to folate, but regarding your asthma, is it allergy related and what advice would you have for others who are having trouble breathing during exercise?
Katie: So I have bad allergies and exercised induced asthma that is exacerbated by breathing hard in allergen full environments. I particularly struggle in Belgium at times due to the mold spores, plentiful grasses, wind, and pine forests and the fact that it is usually always cold and wet during the winter, nothing ever dries out nor does it freeze enough to kill some of the mold spores, so that makes it difficult at times. I’ve learned to manage it well and govern my efforts to perform as well as I can, but it’s not perfect. I also adjust my diet to improve how I feel and my breathing during stressful times. I think the best way for others to manage allergies and breathing during hard efforts is to adjust diet (I adopt a “low-histamine diet” during my worst times), stay hydrated and get plenty of rest and sleep since that can have an effect on how the body feels in allergy prone environments. Also, make sure you have your rescue inhaler with you at all times. I take anti-histamines and also try to breathe through my nose until I have to breathe through my mouth so my body can naturally filter the air before getting to my lungs.
What psi are you running in a race like Baal compared to, say, the type of riding you do back in your home state of Colorado?
Katie: The tire pressures in Belgium are quite a bit different than ones I would generally ride in CO. The terrain is quite different (less rocky and more soft mud) so tire selection also changes depending on where I am. For a race like Baal, I rode a full mud tire at 14.5psi. I didn’t need to worry so much about pinch flats on that course and mainly just needed traction through the heavy mud in order to ride it and have confidence slipping around on the downhills. In CO, the terrain tends to be more rough and rocky so you have to ride a higher pressure to avoid flatting, so I tend to run an aggressive tread with higher pressure to let the tread do the work instead of low pressure for traction. When it’s snowy or muddy in CO, I’ll still choose an aggressive tread, but I will run less pressure, probably around 18-21psi depending on where I’m riding. I weigh about 140lbs for reference.
Do you do anything special when cleaning a muddy kit?
Katie: Yes! So on a muddy race day like that, we power wash the kit as soon as possible after the race to get the major bits of mud off. Once we are home, I’ll rinse it again in the sink under cold water to get as much sand and mud our of the kit as possible. It then goes in the washing machine with a Belgian version of Oxyclean and regular detergent. If it’s still stained after that, then it soaks in a whitening solution for a couple hours before going back into the wash. Getting Belgian mud out of race kits isn’t easy, but it eventually gets clean enough. The sand rarely ever comes out of skin suits and socks though, so they get thrown out at the end of the season.
Starts are important. any advice for quickly clicking in?
Katie: Practice, practice, practice. For a good start, make sure your cleats are in the right spot to connect with the pedal immediately and practice them as much as possible. Be aggressive.