As an enduro racer, recovery is absolutely crucial to the success of your weekend and season. A well thought out plan that includes how you recover from stage to stage, and from day to day is a competitive advantage, and part of every top pro’s regimen. Even a fellow racer who may be more fit than you, can be beat if you have a solid recovery plan that is well executed.

With the top times now separated by seconds over hours of racing, it has never been closer.
With the top racers now separated by seconds over hours timed stages, races have never been closer.
But the cost of winning can be high, racers now have to give it everything on the hill. Recovery is essential.
But the cost of winning can be high, racers now have to give it everything on the hill. Recovery is essential.

Do you have a race recovery plan?

Like with everything related to any kind of competition, there needs to be proper preparation for you to ultimately succeed the way you think you should.

First, a couple of questions to consider:

Do you have a training schedule?

What’s your eating plan to accommodate your training schedule?

  • What’s your rest/sleep plan?
  • What about your plan to recover in between stages and race days while racing Enduro?

Get the picture? It is not the racer who trains the hardest who wins the race. It is the racer who trains the hardest, and recovers the best who will prevail.

Let’s go over a few important recovery concepts, including recovery in your training cycles leading up to and during your race season, and how to recover during the race weekend.

#1- Rest and Sleep

This is one of your most crucial parts of your overall training and performance regimen. You MUST get adequate sleep in order for your mind and body to properly grow, develop and learn. When we train, we tear our bodies down. When we rest and sleep, our bodies recover, grow and integrate.

The problem is, as with most of the athletes that I have coached, is we tend to think more training equals better fitness and thus better results. I am going to argue the contrary— more rest and sleep will help you greater than excessive training, especially since most athletes walk that fine line of “optimal training volume” and over training. This is where the important concept of “Periodization” comes in, where professionals like myself create an annual plan of training and racing, and it’s everyone’s job to stick to that plan throughout the year. It’s this “stick-to-it-ness” that allows repetitive, consistent training and race results.

Without “Periodization,” it’s like being stuck in a lake without oars.

It is ideal to simply get eight hours of sleep every night. Anytime you can take naps after hard training efforts, is beneficial. But remember, you cannot “store up” sleep, you can only catch up with what you’ve been lacking. One quick tip to see if you are overtraining and not getting enough sleep is to keep track of your post-awakening heart rate.

With stages getting bigger and more physical, proper recovery is essential.
With stages getting bigger and more physical, proper recovery is essential.
Periodization is key to good results.
Periodization is key to good results.

Here’s how:

Grab a digital watch, notebook, and pen and place on your nightstand. As soon as you wake up in the morning, find your pulse on your neck (just to the side of your windpipe or on your wrist). Using the watch, count the number of times your heartbeats in 20 seconds. Multiply this number by three, and you have your resting heart rate (RHR) in beats per minute (BPM). Record this number in your notebook every morning.

With each passing day, you are creating an accurate record of your morning heart rate that you can reference after challenging workouts to ensure that you have recovered. You can also look at this data when you think you might be overtraining. Keep an eye on your resting morning heart rate in the two or three days after a hard workout. If it’s elevated from its normal average (seven or more BPM), you may not be fully recovered from the workout, and you need to take a rest day.

#2- “Supercompensation”

What is Supercompensation? In the book “Athletic Development,” Vern Gambetta describes it as:
“Supercompensation is a four-step process. The first step is the application of a training or loading stress and the body’s subsequent reaction to this training stress, which is fatigue or tiring. There is a predictable drop-off in performance because of that stress.

Step 2 is the recovery phase. This can be a lighter training session, a recovery session, or active rest. As a result of the recovery period, the energy stores and performance will return to the baseline (state of homeostasis) represented by the point of the application of the original training stress. Step 3 is the supercompensation phase. This is the adaptive rebound above the baseline; it is described as a rebound response because the body is essentially rebounding from the low point of greatest fatigue. This supercompensation effect is not only a physiological response but also a psychological and technical response. The last step in the process is the loss of the supercompensation effect. This decline is a natural result of the application of a new training stress, which should occur at the peak of supercompensation. If no training stress is applied, there will also be a decline. This is the so-called detraining phenomenon.”

Racing is tough and you have to let your body bounce back.
Racing is tough and you have to let your body bounce back.
Proper recovery is essential if you want to operate at peak performance.
Proper recovery is essential if you want to operate at peak performance.

Perfectly said, and important for you to know as it relates to the recovery aspect of your training in the gym or with your bike training. With my clients, microcycles always include a supercompensation week around the third week after introducing a new workout or set of stressors. So if you plan your workouts, add a supercompensation week in there and watch how your body sucks up the active rest.

Here’s an example from the Ultimate Enduro MTB Training program,

  • Monday: OFF
  • Friday: OFF
  • Sat: CARDIO 2 OR RIDE 45 MINS- <70%
  • Sun: OFF

At the end of the day, I encourage you NOT to underestimate the value of rest and sleep. Get enough each night and take naps when possible, including short naps 30 minutes or less.

Let’s move on to recovery on race weekends— specifically after each stage and after the first day.

#3- Hydration

Before the race weekend, do your research and take note of how long the stages and the transition stages are. This will help you determine what you need to carry, and how much water and food to carry.

It is important to know how long the stages are so you know how much to carry.
It is important to know how long the stages are so you know how much to carry.
  • Are aid stations available throughout the day in-between stages? Use this to your advantage to lighten you load and pick up water and food along the way.
  • Look at the weather- do you need rain gear, extra clothing, extra goggles, or goggle tear-offs? All of this weight is going to force you deeper into your energy reserves.
  • What’s the temperature going to be and how may it change throughout the day?
  • How much extra tools and replacement parts do you need to bring in case you break down?
    Do you need your DH helmet and pads?
  • In the end, consider anything on your back as extra weight, and thus water and energy drainers. Be wise as you MUST plan your water and fuel replacement food accordingly.

    In the end, consider anything on your back as extra weight, and thus water and energy drainers.
    In the end, consider anything on your back as extra weight, and thus water and energy drainers.

    Fluid requirements will vary remarkably between athletes, as well as between exercise and race day scenarios. Here are some of the things fluid losses are affected by:

    • Genetics— Some people innately sweat more than others
    • Body size— Larger athletes tend to sweat more than smaller athletes
    • Fitness— Fitter people sweat earlier in exercise and in larger volumes
    • Environment— Sweat losses are higher in hot, humid conditions
    • Exercise intensity— Sweat losses increase as exercise intensity increases

    Therefore, it is difficult to prescribe a general fluid replacement plan that will meet the needs of all athletes.


    One way to watch your hydration on hard training days and race weekends is to record body weights after urinating each morning and monitor the color of the urine. If body weight has dropped by more than 1 lb (approx. .5 kg) from the day before and if urine color is more like apple juice than lemonade, dehydration is likely (Institute of Medicine, 2004, p. 4-24, 4-26) and the athlete should pay extra attention to fluid intake during the day.

    Enduro MTB Training’s Keys to Hydration

    • Drink half your bodyweight in ounces each day for regular hydration purposes.
    • Stay away from cheap “sports drinks” like Gatorade and Powerade. They contain too many “junk ingredients,’ not enough electrolytes, plus there are better, organic-based drink options like Osmo Nutrition (plug in AMBEnduro at checkout for 10% off!), or Biosteel.
    • You can make your own simple “sports drink” by placing a pinch of salt into your bladder reservoir. Be sure its “Celtic or Celtra Sea Salt,” as it provides 70-80 micro-minerals in perfect balance.
    • Whatever you do, don’t get caught without enough water.
    • You can never go wrong by holding off the partying until the race is over.
    • LAY OFF THE RED BULL AND MONSTER! No explanation needed.

    Now everyone is going to be different, just like I mentioned above, but generally speaking, you should consume 20+ or so ounces for each hour competing. This equates to approximately 5 oz every 15 mins when riding. Don’t forget to drink during the wait times between transitions and stages.

    #4- Fuel and Nutrition

    Just as essential as hydration is to your race performance, so is what and when you are fueling your body. A good breakfast is where to start. About 1.5 to 2 hours before start you want a “clean” breakfast that includes some kind of protein, carbohydrates and fat.

    A good start to the day can include two organic eggs fried in butter or olive oil, a bowl of organic cereal, a banana, and water. This provides sustainable energy and a base of calories to start the day and race with. Approximately one half-hour before the race, consider 8 to 12 ounces of Biosteel, Osmo or your favorite sports drink to top off the energy reserves.

    Once racing has started, use only water for the first 30 to 45 minutes and then start to supplement with a sports drink. It’s important to start to fuel yourself with food after 50 minutes into race day. A good time to do that depends on how your system responds to food when riding, but transitions and the dreaded long line for the next stage can be good times to fuel up. BUT, nibble, don’t mack down a bunch of food!

    Nutrition is even more individualized than hydration. For more information and a personal solution, contact Kelli Jennings at Apex Nutrition.

    The stress of racing can be seen on Nico Laus face.
    The stress of racing can be seen on Nico Laus face.

    #5- Recovering after the first day of racing

    When your first day of racing is done, now is an important time to prepare for day two of racing. After you have crossed the finish line, try to get some food in you within 30 minutes. Post-exercise recovery drinks can be beneficial for the initial refueling, but make sure to get food in as well that includes protein, a starchy carb and a fibrous carb, as well as good quality fat. Also, consider supplements or a drink that has amino acids and electrolytes, like Osmo’s Acute Recovery for Men or Women (plug AMBEnduro at checkout for 10% OFF!).

    In fact, you can kill two birds with one stone if you grab a post-ride recovery drink, a turkey sandwich and a banana and quickly go hop in a local cold stream or cold pool for 5-7 minutes (cryotherapy). This will decrease your overall body temperature and help decrease micro tears that occur throughout muscle tissue and are the primary cause of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Cooling the body’s tissue limits the extent of DOMS by decreasing the tissues need for oxygen and thus limiting secondary hypoxic injury to the micro tears.

    After that, get in a good shower and get a substantial meal with, again, a quality protein, a starchy carb, a fibrous carb, and good quality fat. Once done, relax and goof off a bit, then think about spending some time stretching, doing mobility work on the foam roller, using the self therapy stick and the lacrosse ball. You can see many of EMT’s “Self Therapy Video’s” on our Vimeo Channel or our blog (watch for our channel coming soon).

    You need to develop a
    You need to develop a strong recovery plant to be the best

    After that, consider compression clothing. Wear full leg or at least calf sleeves and even arm sleeves if you struggle with arm fatigue or arm pump. There are differing opinions on whether or not it is beneficial, but in my opinion, it works.

    Lastly, to finish off the first day of racing, back to #1… SLEEP! Get to bed early and have sweet dreams about the next days racing.

    I hope this will help you be more successful riding and racing your local enduro races! And like always, if we can help in anyway, shoot us an email at, check out our website at for a six month downloadable training program, or our local and long distance coaching services. Oh, and don’t forget to “like us” on Facebook .


    Words: Dee Tidwell Photos: Trev Worsey

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