Whether you're a couch to 5 k runner or training for a marathon, making good food choices will help you train, race and recover stronger….and happier! Choosing the right post-run nutrition is in fact arguably even more important than fuelling up before your runs. Recovering well and refuelling correctly will provide you with the strength and stamina to train more efficiently and more consistently in the long term. You'll be less prone to injury too.
Try my 5 top #GoFaster recovery tips!
1. The Magic Window
Our muscles are at their most receptive to nutrients in the first 20-30 minutes after a run, so refuelling and rehydrating within this 'magic window' is the ideal time to replenish muscle glycogen (energy) stores, repair muscle trauma and regenerate muscle tissue. If you consistently fail to refuel, you'll find your energy stores gradually become more and more depleted as your training continues. The makes you more susceptible to injury, your muscles begin to feel heavy, and you can start to feel tired, lethargic and sometimes even grumpy! In short, training can start to feel like very hard work…
2. Clever Carbs
Carbohydrate, once digested, is eventually converted into blood glucose and used for energy, or stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle.
After a longer run of 60 minutes or more, these glycogen stores start to run low. The quicker they are topped up, the quicker you will recover and consequently, the better you will feel for your next run. Eating something rich in carbohydrate after your run will do the trick. One of my favourite ways to do this is to make a pancake mix before I set off, ready to cook immediately on my return – try these #GoFaster blueberry recovery pancakes
3. Protein to promote muscle recovery and growth
Our bodies need protein for the health and development of muscles, bones and red blood cells, as well as healthy hormones and an efficient immune system. Each time we run, our muscles go through trauma! Taking on something rich in protein after a run will repair this damage and help regenerate new muscle, especially if you do so within the magic window. It doesn't have to be complicated either. Milk, for instance, is an awesome post-run drink – simple, cheap and very effective. Try it in this very tasty banana recovery shake.
4. The Ultimate Combo
Research suggests that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein is the most effective combination of nutrients to promote glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery after a run.
Try these 'ultimate combo' recovery snacks:
- Buckwheat pancakes with ham and cheese
- Peanut butter sandwich on whole meal bread
- A couple of energy balls/flapjack/malt loaf
- Granola, natural yoghurt and fruit
- Rice cakes with cottage cheese
- Banana and a handful of almonds
5. Fluid and Electrolytes
Water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium) maintain the body's balance and keep it functioning properly. Water is all you'll need during and after gentle runs of under 60 minutes, but for longer and intensive runs, or if the weather is particularly hot, you'll feel better if you replace the electrolytes you'll have lost through sweat.
For more on hydration, and a recipe for a home made sports drink, click here.
Top post exercise drinks:
- Banana recovery shake
- Homemade blueberry smoothie with milk, buttermilk or yoghurt
- Chocolate milk
- Fruit juice or diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt
- Maca tea with honey