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Coach's Column with Chris Eatough

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |October 11, 2011 1:03 AM

Chris Eatough is a 6-time 24 hour solo world champion and 5-time 24 hour solo national champion along with multiple wins in 100-mile mountain bike races.  Chris uses his 12 years as a professional mountain bike racer to assist others in reaching their peak fitness and ability. View Chrisís tailor-made training plans including 100-mile, 24-hour, and MTB stage race at

Question: I am racing the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic in a few weeks. I have never raced for 7 days in a row. What do I need to know to recover right between stages and be my best the following day?


Answer: One of the most important elements to success in stage racing is recovery between stages. This starts as soon as you cross the finish line each day.  Every ounce of energy you can save in between stages is an ounce more of energy for the next days' race. In between stages, follow the adage: "never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay down with your legs elevated, never lay down when you can sleep".  Of course, there are always things that need to be done in addition to sleeping in between stages, but you get the point.  Here is a typical schedule for me immediately following a stage:


1. Start to replenish fluids, electrolytes and calories with a recovery drink.  My personal favorites are from Infinit Nutrition.

2. Wipe of my face and change my jersey.

3. Go for a short recovery spin.  10 minutes of easy spinning in a small gear.  Still sipping on that recovery drink.

4. Get off the bike and head straight for the shower to clean up and get into comfortable clothes.

5. Sit down and eat a snack.  500-700 calories.  Mostly carbohydrates, some protein.  Still sipping on that recovery drink. 

6. Lay back in a quiet, comfortable spot and relax.  This is probably 30 or 40 minutes of rest.  Falling asleep is ideal.

7. Eat a well balanced meal.  This is usually 90 to 120 minutes after the stage. 

8. Take care of equipment and logistical issues (cleaning bike, adjusting bike, changing tires, cleaning clothes, arranging clothes for next day, etc).  If you are really lucky, a mechanic and/or team helper might be able to help with these tasks.

9.  Continue to rest (reclined if possible), and eat snacks and drink fluids. 

10.  Early to bed, shooting for 9 to 10 hours of sleep.


The calorie requirements for stage racing can be very large, and eating enough before, during and after stages can be challenging.  Eating small amounts often is the best way to keep calories going in without stressing your stomach too much. 

Sticking to a schedule like this is a huge commitment, and it takes dedication and focus, but it makes all the difference as the days go on, and it can become very satisfying.  When your body and mind accept this routine as normal and fulfilling, you know you have arrived as a stage racer!

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