Coach's Column with Drew Edsall: Tips for Recovery During Stage Racing
Question:You've done several stage races, what have you found to work
best for recovery methods to get through the stage race and how long will it
take post-stage race before one can realistically expect to race in good form
Answer: While many athletes put a large focus
on training, fitness, and nutrition, I find many tend to neglect and put off
recovery especially when they donít have the time. Making time for recovery is
crucial to great performance on the bike and when it comes down to stage racing
I really put an emphasis on how I recover.
last four years Iíve been lucky enough to get to the Transylvania Epic Stage
race along with many others. Here are the three main recovery methods I have
found work great for me and other athletes I coach.
on the bike and post-race/stage nutrition
1: To finish a stage race strong, I have to make nutrition a top priority. Good nutrition during stage racing takes a
lot of discipline and organization to nail it down. My main goal is to minimize going through my
glycogen, or carbohydrate, stores and then maximize getting them filled back up
for energy the following day. Doing this gives me the strength and energy I
need to survive both mentally and physically for multiple days in a row.
race day I make sure to take in plenty of calories while
racing and immediately after each stage. The number I shoot for is pretty close
to 2 x my body weight in pounds per hour. At 150 lbs, that is 300 calories per
hour that I shoot for. I find most athletes work well with that number although
sometimes I find myself taking more in especially on slower parts of some
stages. So for a longer 4 hour stage, I will aim for around 1200 or more
calories just while riding. I tend to like to mix these calories up between
70-80% liquid calories and the remainder coming from solids when possible.
I make a huge priority to take advantage of the "window of opportunityĒ. This
window occurs within the first 20 minutes immediately after you cross the finish
line. At that point, I aim to get in about 90 grams of high glycemic, fast
absorbing carbs. One of my favorites is yogurt with fresh strawberries,
bananas, honey, and granola. Research has shown that during this window your
body can absorb carbohydrates at about 4 times the normal rate. Thatís optimal
for recovery for every day that follows in the stage race. I make a huge habit
out of scarfing down this post-race meal or recovery drink right when I get
I continue to take in small meals every 1-2 hours after this. Iíll stick with
lean meats, low glycemic carbs, and good fats, such as salads, potatoes,
chicken, steak, yogurt, fish, almonds, and my favorite fruit. But most
important is that I never cut myself short. I eat and I eat a lot!
2: I sleep a lot! During sleep your body makes a ton of repairs by releasing
growth hormone and testosterone. In addition to this, it will help you mentally
rejuvenate to be ready for another tough day in the saddle. I try to get a 1-2
hour nap in about an hour after the stage and before dinner. Then I head to bed
as early as possible to get 8-12 hours of sleep.
3: Additional recovery aids. Some of these I live by while others are tough to
say whether they work or not. My best recommendation is to find what you like
by trying them after a hard day in the saddle and see what you like. The
additional recovery aids I like are as follows:
Grams of Glutamine prior to bed: aid in rebuilding muscle and recovery
Grams of Hammer BCAAís immediately after race day: also aid in muscular
Legs or Podium Legs: these help push blood, and other accumulated lactate and
itís counterparts back to the heart to recirculate. Plus they feel really good.
Feel like a massage while laying down! Check out 92Fifty.com for more info on
off your feet! If you donít have Elevated Legs, then get your legs above your
heart and let gravity pull those fluids back to the heart.
bath: if I have access to a river or stream, or an ice bath I try to hop in for
10-15 minutes. Not always easy to find, but depends on the stage race
I find this works better for some people than others, but I am strong believer
in it. It relieves soreness and tightness in my muscles/joints, and helps
prevent overuse injuries. I stretch 2-3 times a day during stage racing: 1 time
2 hours before race time, 1 time after, and 1 time before bed with each session
lasting about 15-20 minutes each. Yoga is also excellent if you are into that.
found that these three steps work great. The closer I follow them, the better I
perform as the stage race goes on.
into the second part of the question: how long does it take to recover from a
can vary from 2 to 6 weeks depending on the athlete(genetics), your fitness
coming into the race, and how deep you dug during the race. That along with how well you follow the above
mentioned recovery methods. For a race like TSE, most of the time I will bounce
back within 2-3 weeks, but the average athlete is most likely closer to 4-6
that being said, this can vary a lot even in the same person from year to year
in the same race. Perfect example is In 2012 when I bounced back from the
Transylvania Epic Stage race in two weeks and did the Lumberjack 100 with phenomenal
fitness. Then in 2013, the complete opposite; I came into TSE a little
overcooked, pushed super hard through it, and felt like it took a month or two
to get back into my normal shape. It really depends on your form coming into
the race, how well you manage your recovery, and how deep you have to dig!
like with any training routine, recovery from races is very unique to each
individual. Taking advantage of the recovery techniques I mentioned above will
not only help in stage racing, but will also help after hard days in the
saddle. Learn what works for you, and pay attention to how fast you are
recovering. If you nail down your recovery, you will be that much closer to
meeting and exceeding your goals in 2014!
Drew Edsall is a Pro level coach at Studio 92Fifty. He has
been coaching mountain bike athletes for 8 years. In addition to coaching, Drew
is an accomplished Pro mountain bike racer specializing in Marathon, Stage
racing, 50 mile, and 100 mile mountain bike races. He is currently racing for
the Kenda/Felt Pro Mountain Bike Team. You can find more info about him