As your half marathon training becomes more intense, recovery after your runs becomes increasingly important, and I believe, is the absolute key to successful and sustained running.
Carbohydrate is stored in the muscles and liver as ‘glycogen’. After longer runs these glycogen levels become depleted and the quicker they are topped up, the better you will feel the following day.
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Rehydrating and refuelling within the ‘magic window’, about 30 minutes after your run, will optimise recovery so you can continue training regularly, and help prevent injury. This magic window is when your muscles are at their most receptive to nutrients. A good combo of carbohydrate and protein (4:1 is a good ratio) as well as electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) to replenish those lost through sweat.
Rehydrate well (check you’re hydrated by the colour of your pee; it should be a pale yellow colour) and grab something to eat. Keep it simple! Perhaps a glass of milk with a honey sandwich, a slice of toast with scrambled egg, peanut butter or hummus, a flapjack and a piece of fruit (melon is good) or a refreshing home-made smoothie made with milk or yoghurt.
Later, you can help recovery even more by eating a more substantial meal, such as this totally mouth-watering chilli below:
Chilli Chocolate Chicken
Chocolate in a chilli? Give it a go! One of our favourite post-run recovery meals, this Chilli Chocolate Chicken from my latest book, Go Faster Food for Kids. Dark, sweet, spicy and packed with antioxidants to aid recovery and supercharge energy levels for consistent training, it’s an easy-peasy and very tasty family meal, great for refuelling after a busy day doing sport. Based on the Mexican ‘mole’ which traditionally uses a massive array of ingredients and different varieties of chilli, this Go Faster streamlined version certainly doesn’t skimp on flavour but does involve much less shopping! Serve with brown basmati rice or quinoa.
Ingredients to serve 4
- 2 dried chillies (or to taste)
- 50g raisins
- 8 free-range bone-in chicken thighs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp coconut or sunflower oil
- 2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp each ground coriander and ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 heaped tbsp peanut, cashew or almond butter
- 1 tsp chilli paste (optional)
- Zest of ½ an orange
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- 500ml chicken stock
- 25g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- Juice of one lime
- 25g fresh coriander, roughly chopped,
- Soured cream and lime wedges to serve
- Put the chillies and raisins in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes.
- Season the chicken. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a flameproof casserole dish and brown the chicken, turning frequently to seal all over. Remove and set aside. Add another 1 tbsp oil to the casserole and sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Stir in the cinnamon stick, coriander, cumin and cloves and cook for 1 minute. Return the chicken and take off the heat.
- Blend the chillies, raisins and soaking water, or bash with a pestle and mortar. Add this to the casserole with the garlic, nut butter, chilli paste, if using, orange zest and tomatoes. Pour in enough stock to cover everything. Return the casserole to the heat and bring to the boil.
- Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through. Add the chocolate and continue to cook, uncovered, on a low heat for another 15 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add more stock or water. Stir in the lime juice and check for seasoning.
- Sprinkle with coriander and serve with a dollop of soured cream and lime wedges.
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