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 ChrisEatough.com.
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
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
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
Continue to rest (reclined if possible), and eat snacks and drink fluids.
Early to bed, shooting for 9 to 10 hours of sleep.
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
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!