Post-race recovery: What to eat and drink
You did it! YOU dominated Broad Street. Time to P-A-R-T-Y, right?
Not so fast.
Before you throw back that Bloody Mary, do yourself a big, huge, favor: Eat something.
Remember all that talk about fueling your muscles with glycogen pre-race? It’s just as important to replace those torn muscle fibers with energy and amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to truly rebuild your body post run.
But not all foods help that runner’s body of yours recover equally. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind as you wander through the Navy Yard on Sunday.
Remember the 3:1 ratio
Your muscles needs carbs AND protein. More precisely, research recommends that you consume three to four times the amount of carbs for every gram of protein. Some options that have a good balance:
- Trail mix with cereal and nuts
- Greek yogurt and a banana
- Small turkey hoagie
- Chocolate milk (my personal favorite)
Eat quickly. Eat often.
There is a bit of a debate in sports nutrition literature about how many hours you have after exercising to adequately replete your muscles. The consensus recommendation is to eat a carbohydrate-based snack or small meal within 30 minutes after the race, then continue to do so for every 2 hours for the next 4-6 hours. Try to make at last half of your carbs count for good (fruit, whole grains), and allow yourself a little room for a splurge (hello, soft pretzel).
Don’t forget your fluids
It’s no secret that you left your sweat out on the street, so hydration post-race is essential to circulate nutrition through your body. Since everyone sweats different amounts, it can be tricky to know how much to drink. Use these tips for rehydration:
- Drink to thirst, then drink about 24 ounces extra. Thirst isn’t a perfect indicator of hydration status.
- Drink enough to urinate regularly, with a goal of a light yellow color.
- Weigh yourself before and after the race. The difference in your body weight is likely result of dehydration. Drink enough to get back to pre-race weight; about 16 ounces per pound lost. (Note: this does not work if you’ve already eaten a recovery meal.)
What’s the big deal? Drink all you want, but you need enough sodium and potassium to help your body balance it’s fluids. While sports drinks are ideal during a race, milk, orange juice, and even a decaf latte will help to replace what you lost.
There’s no official recommendation on antioxidants like vitamins C and E, or omega-3s for decreasing inflammation post-run, but they certainly won’t do any harm. Try some berries, an orange, and a handful of walnuts after the race to get your fill.
Proper post-race nutrition will help repair your muscles and prepare you body for the next workout. It can even help those muscles feel not as sore so you’re ready to get back out there again sooner. Broad Street 2015 anyone?