Stage Race and Multi-Day Event Preparation

Most of the time, racing is a one-day endeavor.  Once in a while, though, there will be two events you will want to do on the same weekend; or perhaps, if you’re a cyclist, you will do a stage race over several days.  If you are a runner, there might be a 24-hour running relay on the schedule for the coming months. How do you shift your training and focus to get the most out of your performance in these events?

Since you will have to perform at a high level on successive days with little rest, your training should include that.  The foundation of all good multi-day results is a solid endurance base.  Once you have that, you can build intensity into your training blocks.  These blocks should be at intensity similar to what you will experience in your event.  So, for example, instead of doing a three-day block that looks like this,

Day 1 AC Intervals (high intensity)
Day 2 Endurance
Day 3 Tempo

where you have an easier Endurance day followed by moderate intensity, your block should look more like this:

Day 1 SST (Sweet Spot Training – 87%-93% of LT)
Day 2 AC Intervals
Day 3 LT Intervals

In this block, the three days are all tough and include high intensity in the middle.   You can tailor the training to your strengths and weakness to get the most from it.  For example, if you are suited to SST and LT-type efforts, leave those to the last two days and do your AC high-intensity work first when you are relatively fresh.  Challenge yourself and push your limits – this is what makes you stronger and able to dig deep on multiple days.

Another important aspect of multi-day event preparation is your taper.  For single day events, it’s normally good to taper lightly, but “keep the engine running” with some hard work leading to the event, a bit of rest, and then openers the day before.  If you’re racing for several days in a row, though, that will take valuable energy that you ought to be saving for those days.  Instead of a day or two of rest followed by openers, try instead to taper by taking several days off in the week prior to the event followed by an easy spin the day before, just to wake the legs a bit.  Your schedule might look a bit like this:

Monday – off
Tuesday – Easy
Wed – off
Thursday – Easy
Friday – Saturday – Sunday  – RACE


Finally, you’ll want to pay special attention to your nutrition in the weeks leading to your event.  Since you’ll be depleting your reserves over multiple days, it’s important to get to the event with a full tank.  Your taper and rest will help with this, and you’ll want to remember to stay well hydrated and with a good mix of nutrients.  Eat your veggies and don’t over indulge in pasta or heavy grains.   You’ll want to start the races feeling light and fresh – not fatigued because your body is using lots of energy to digest the heavy dinners you’ve been eating.

With a bit of forethought and planning, you’ll be able to perform at your best over multiple days, whether it is two triathlons in two days, three running legs in a single weekend or perhaps the oldest cycling stage race in the United States – the Cascade Cycling Classic.

About the Author

Adnan is a USAC-certified Level 1 cycling coach who believes that in sport, as in life, it is important to strike a balance between the various aspects of what one does. Adnan has been a competitive cyclist and triathlete for nearly 25 years.  His full-time coaching practice can be found at