Running is what “runners” do, but to truly be successful, to get the most out of your body performance wise and to run injury free for the long haul…you have to do more.
What you do immediately after the run is maybe more important than any other post run recovery effort. An article at Runner Worlds online may have said it best: “As distance runners, we live in a constant cycle of destruction and adaptation. In turns, we push our bodies to the edge of their ability and then wait patiently for them to heal into a slightly stronger, faster state of homeostasis.” To get our bodies to that better state they must recover after we have pushed them to the limits.
This blog post would be too long if I tried to address all aspects of recovery. For this post I’m going to focus on what you can do immediately following your run for hydration and a recovery snack. Proper recovery needs to start as soon after your run as possible, and needs to supply your body with what it needs to begin the healing process.
The first key to the recovery effort is how soon after your run should your recovery efforts begin? I have read everything from within the first 30 minutes to two hours after a hard workout is the best period to refuel your body to kick start your recovery.
Second to when is what to eat/drink. Most everything I have read on the subject highlights getting proper hydration during the run and after as still the best single thing you can do. After that replenishing carbohydrates and proteins, with most studies suggesting a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
For me that means within minutes of my run I have a recovery drink and a snack. My favorite combination is Chocolate milk and a Cliffbar. Although not very scientific, it’s easy. I may like to run long distances but I’m also very lazy. If it is quick and easy I will most likely stick with it. Most name brand chocolate milks have more carbohydrates per servings then protein (24g vs. 8g) which most nutrition experts recommend for the endurance runner. The Cliffbar (chocolate chip is my favorite) again packs on more carbs vs. proteins (45g to 9g) to help refuel and repair the body. Not only does this combination hit the spot…it also tastes great. The chocolate taste is the perfect reward after a really long run. My guilty pleasure is an ice cold glass of milk and a dozen (or more) OREO cookies.
I thought I would take this blog post one step further and ask a few of my Twitter followers how they recover after their runs.
Steve S, @britishbulldog “my favorite recovery snack” is the peanut butter banana crunch flatbread from Tropical Smoothie. It contains a whopping 776 calories – 85 grams of carbs, 23 grams of protein and 39 grams of fat – but really hits the spot and keeps you full for hours.” Steve’s guilty pleasure after a long run is an ice cold IPA to quench the thirst and provide some empty carbs. “Not really a recommended recovery drink, but it sure does taste good!” says Steve.
Bruce Van H, @brucevh “ I used to use and loved chocolate carnation instant breakfast powder in 1% milk. Now I mix a protein powder and a heaping tablespoon of raw chocolate powder (Herhey’s cocoa) with 16 ounces of 1% milk. I drink this 10-15 min of finishing my long runs. Bruce confined that after long runs, “gummie bears” may just be his go to refuel food.
Amanda B, @runtothefinish “You can never go wrong with a green smoothie packed with Vega Sport protein – ½ orange, spinach, kale, carrots, cucumber! No digestion needed for muscle repair.” A Vegan Cake…with tons of icing hit the spot for Amanda when a run is really tough.
Melinda H, @melindahoward4 “I love a ton of chocolate milk, okay maybe not 2000 pounds worth but normally a 12 oz serving after a long run.”
Jenna, @littlegreenrs Jenna confessed, “Hey, I’m old school chocolate milk or an ice cold beer all the way.”
As you can see post run recovery starts off a number of different ways. Do you prefer a bagel with peanut butter, a baked potato with cheese or pancakes with yogurt. The important thing to remember is recovery starts just as soon as the run is over.
What is your favorite recovery drink/snack?