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Paddy Doran
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OTHER CYCLING : Coaching Advice : Paddy Doran Last Updated: 19 Jul 2021 - 7:26:24 PM

By Paddy Doran
21 Apr 2011,

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The purpose of this article is to assist in speeding rider's recovery and to keep their immune system strong during the Easter stage races.

With some of the most important races of the season now just one week away riders will be looking for the edge that might help them to win the overall 'win or place on stages or even just to survive and finish in the main group.

Apart from ensuring that you train correctly, taking care of recovery during the races might be one of the most important things that you can do for success.
There are many simple cost free things you can do to accelerate recovery in the in the days prior to the race, and during the race.


A good fitness level is the first priority and you need to be going into the race in top form, well rested and ready to race. You can achieve this by training lightly in the two days before the event begins and in general reducing your training slightly in the week before. We have to take it that you have trained correctly over the last months.


As most of you are probably aware the top professional and international teams actively promote the importance of recovery from training and competition through the employment of Massage therapists, Nutritionist's and best training practices.

If you do not (yet) have the same resources as the Professional teams, there are still many simple techniques; listed below which you can use which are inexpensive and easily applied.

- Plan to make life as easy as possible either side of the stages
- Organise everything (bike/clothing/packing etc) in advance so that you have time to rest and relax in the last few days before the event. A list is useful for this.
- Taper before the event
- Have the food and drinks that you will need available when you need them
- Warm up and Cool down
- Get sufficient rest and sleep
- Keep a positive focus on the race
- Have a high carbohydrate intake
- Have an energy and fluid replacement strategy, routine


Some of The benefits of diligence with recovery might be
- Greater Enjoyment of the race
- Enthusiasm for each stage
- Consistent high level of performance
- Stronger throughout each stage
- Better health
- Injury risk decreased


Here's a few of the things that use up energy needlessly, that you can eliminate with some planning.

Where is the hotel???

Some of the most frustrating things for club riders are getting to stage finishes and cycling around for a long time searching for their accommodation. This can happen through being separated from teammate's managers etc in traffic or crowds as you depart from the stage finish and not knowing the name of the hotel. So have some strategy to get to your hotel with no hassle. A simple thing might be to have the name of the hotel in your pocket on a small card.

Wheres me room???

Another thing is getting to the digs and spending more time hanging around while rooms are being sorted out at reception as a large number of cyclists arrive together . This is all precious recovery time going to waste.

If possible someone should go ahead of the race each day to organise and set up the hotel rooms. The rider's main luggage bags (which should have clear name tags and not include the kitchen sink) should be put into their rooms. If you have not got a van for your team because of budget restrictions maybe you could work with some other team / s to organise an extra van between you for the race.

A page with the team and rider's names and room numbers could be posted in a visible place where the riders will see it as they arrive at the hotel. Then they can just pick up their key and go straight to the room.
Have fluids and snacks in rider's rooms so that they can begin to rehydrate and refuel as soon as possible.

Rider's Small bags with dry gear towel -vest - jersey, post-race drink and snack to begin immediate refuelling at the stage end should be put in the team race car. Again the bag should be clearly marked with the rider's names.

All riders team clothing should be marked with riders names on the tag so that riders are not spending time and energy trying to figure out who owns which jersey etc.
Have a variety of supplementary foods and drinks organised well in advance so that the best food is always available and accessible for the riders.


One of the greatest challenges of stage races is to maintain the energy stores required to perform at a high level day after day. An average size rider may burn up 3,00 - 4,000 calories during a 4 hour stage. This is on top of about 2,000 calories that the rider uses for normal daily living so its quite a challenge to plan and implement a good nutrition plan for stage races.

There is also evidence that consumption of carbohydrate during prolonged exercise supports the immune system. This is an important factor as following three or four days of heavy racing poorly prepared riders often begin to get sick. For example a number of the riders who drop out of the An Post Ras every year will be through the onset of sickness after a few days.

To sustain your training and races you will require a nutritional plan based on a high carbohydrate intake to maintain and replenish your energy stores before and after each race and training session. To achieve this 60 - 70 % of your food intake should be carbohydrate based.
Complex carbohydrates like Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, Potatoes, rice, fruit, vegetables, yogurt are an important source of energy which supply other nutrients as well. Simple carbohydrates like jam, sugars, glucose powders, sports drinks and energy drinks also play a an important part in your energy plan because of their high energy content and low bulk


Go into the event well prepared
Aim to begin the race with full energy stores. You can achieve this by reducing you're training and slightly increasing your carbohydrate intake in the last few days before the race.


The amount of glycogen (carbohydrate stored in the muscles) in your reserves will determine your performance to some extent. It is therefore vital that you set out on the day of a race with these reserves as full as possible.

To do this, you should have a high carbohydrate breakfast on the day, and have your last meal 3-4 hours before the event. This meal needs to be high in carbohydrate, low in fat, low in fibre, and moderate in protein. It is important that you practice eating your pre-exercise meal in advance of a race. Eat foods that you are used to.


For races or training lasting longer than an hour, a regular intake of carbohydrate has been shown to improve performance in endurance sports. Many studies have shown that endurance athletes who have a high carbohydrate diet and consume carbohydrate during exercise continue to exercise for longer periods. complete more sprints etc in the latter parts of endurance exercise and recover better from exercise, compared to those who are deficient in carbohydrate.

Therefore, it is important to bring along sufficient small carbohydrate rich snacks and drinks with you. Begin eating soon after the stage begins and eat and drink regularly throughout the stage.

Eat and drink every 1 0-15 minutes or so. Aim to consume 60 - 80 grammes of carbohydrate (fluids and solids) per hour during the stage.

With the clear nutritional analysis on most packages now this should be easily achieved. Study the amount of carbohydrate each foodstuff, bar or spoonful of energy powder contains and take the right amount according to the race distance.


Studies have shown that even quite small percentages of dehydration can affect performance in quite a negative way so attention to detail will pay dividends in this area


Pre exercise:
30 minutes to 2 hours prior to exercise 1 pint (400-600 mls)

During exercise:
100-150 mls every 15-20 minutes. How many bottles is this for each stage?
Race drinks should not be fizzy, very sugary, or ice-cold as this may cause nausea and cramp.
Try different drinks during training to determine what is the best drink for you.
Percentage of carbohydrate in drinks
This will change according to the weather conditions and what are the greatest needs. Very dilute solutions are best for quick replacement of fluids during very hot conditions. When the conditions are very cold and there is not much sweat loss stronger solutions are possible.

Very hot weather a low carbohydrate content 3-5 % or 30 to 50 grammes per litre will assist the fluids in leaving the stomach quickly and entering the circulation where its required to replace the sweat loss.

Moderate conditions 5-8 % or 50 to 80 grammes per litre will replace fluids and carbohydrate.

Very cold conditions a solution of 10 % or more may be used as the main demand will be for carbohydrate replacement.


Post exercise you should drink freely, do not wait until you are feeling thirsty as this usually means you are already dehydrated. You need to drink enough to replace the fluids that have been lost through sweat.

The amount of fluid lost can be calculated by weighing yourself before and after exercise. For every 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) lost in weight, you need to replace 1 Litre of fluid. + the amount of fluid you have consumed during the stage.
Even if the weather is cold if you are wearing very warm clothing you may still lose a lot of sweat so be sure to drink enough.


It can take up to 20 hours to completely replenish your glycogen reserves after a hard training session or race. The refuelling process is most effective in the first two hours after a race when the body synthesises glycogen at a rate of 7% per hour. After this the rate drops off to 5% per

hour. The most effective refuelling method is fluids, together with some solid food. It is generally recommended to have 100 - 150 g of carbohydrate in the first two hours after training and 50g every two hours thereafter until your post-race meal. Small amounts of protein may help the refuelling process and provide amino acids for the repair of muscle tissue.


Active recovery

Active recovery is exercise at low intensity, which helps the different systems of the body return to normal. It is proven to reduce lactate levels. You should finish each stage with a 15-20 minute period of active recovery where your level of physical and psychological activity is gradually reduced so that you arrive at your accommodation partly physically recovered and mentally relaxed. This is the beginning of your recovery and will reduce a lot of the usual stiffness and sore legs you usually experience following hard training sessions or races. (You should take fluids and snacks as you cool down)

This is especially important if you have been active in the race right up to the finish. However if you have been in a group behind the leading groups and your group has ridden steady to the finish this will not be as important. Your lactate level will probably not be so high as riders who have been sprinting for the finish.

The cool down is especially important if you do not have a massage therapist working with your team.

After you shower lie down and relax / sleep for an hour or so before dinner.


Massage can be beneficial, and a good massage therapist is an important part of the team.

However if your team does not have a massage therapist you can apply a simple form of massage yourself by elevating your legs ( sitting or lying with your legs elevated resting on pillows or on back of chair etc, and gently shaking the muscles to relax them followed by gently massaging the muscles always towards the heart. Do not massage recent injuries as it will probably make them worse. Advice from medics and or Rest Ice and Compression is the best approach to muscular injuries especially for the first 48 hours.

Enjoy your racing!

Paddy Doran
Latest Headlines
Paddy Doran — R.I.P.
How to Recover and Get Major Benefits from the Ras
Deliberate Practice The Flanagan Brothers s Super Session

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