The foods you choose to eat after running a half marathon can boost your recovery!
You already know it’s important to nourish your body after training for – and finishing – a half marathon. But did you know that some foods pack a much bigger punch, giving you more vitamins, minerals, and healthy micronutrients to repair the damage and get you on the road to recovery? Here are 10 of our favourite healthy, tasty foods to eat in the days and weeks after your half marathon.
#1 Dark green salad leaves
Watercress, rocket, lamb’s lettuce and other dark green leafy veg are amazing for recovery after a long race. They contain high amounts of important vitamins and minerals (like iron, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium) and almost zero calories meaning you can bulk up existing meals with these nutritional powerhouses. Add to salads, smoothies, stir fries, soups – or wherever you can!
#2 Wild meat
Red meat is good for recovery, but “wild” meat like bison and venison are the best of the lot. They tend to be a lot leaner, and therefore lower in fats and calories. They will nourish your muscles with protein, iron, zinc, and other nutrients. Try venison steak or bison mince as a swap for regular red meat dishes.
There’s a reason apples have become the go-to healthy fruit. Not only are they packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. But the skin contains pectin (a healthy soluble fibre) and the flesh contains quercetin, an antioxidant which can help reduce inflammation. Just what you need after 13.1 miles.
#4 Dairy produce
Dairy with no added sugars (we’re talking cottage cheese, real Greek yoghurt, quark, Skyr etc) is amazing for muscle recovery after a lot of running. Dairy contains whey, a source of protein with lots of important amino acids. These crucial nutrients speed up muscle repair, help ease soreness, and help you come back stronger.
#5 Green tea
Lots of foods and drinks contain plant compounds called polyphenols, but green tea is a particularly strong source of these helpful natural chemicals. Polyphenols help the body recover from inflammation caused by running (or any exercise). Green tea also has a fair bit of caffeine which has a number of benefits for runners.
#6 Oily fish
Every oily fish from sardines to the humble sardine contains important fats called omega 3s. It’s very difficult to get enough of these fatty acids from food – so eat up! Omega 3 fatty acids are so good for us, helping bring down inflammation, repair tissue, and even boost brain health. If you choose smaller fish (like sardines or anchovies) you’ll eat the bones too which means more calcium and other key minerals.
Lots of fruit tastes great after a race, but pick pineapple. It contains the compound bromelain – another natural anti inflammatory – which can actually help manage swelling and soreness. Eat the fresh stuff rather than tinned. You can also buy frozen pineapple, which is great in a smoothie.
All berries are good for runners (the dark colour suggests a wealth of nutrients) but blueberries are amongst the best. The vitamins, minerals, and anti oxidants buffer oxidative stress (and you’ll rack up plenty of that training for a half marathon). Fresh or frozen – it’s up to you.
Good news if you enjoy a homemade curry – the bright yellow ingredient turmeric is incredible for recovery after exercise. The active ingredient is curcumin which supports bone health, immune strength, and even works as (another) anti inflammatory. Root turmeric is optimal, but a good quality turmeric powder is a great second best.
#10 Whole eggs
Eggs are one of nature’s wonder foods: low calorie, zero carb, high in protein, with a little healthy fat in the yolk. The yolk also contains a host of fat soluble vitamins like B6 and B12, plus calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, and folate. Don’t get stuck in a rut with hen’s eggs. Try duck eggs, quail eggs, and anything else you see available.
Wondering how to make the most of these recommended foods? How about these to get you started:
– a lean meat (chicken or turkey) curry with leafy greens and turmeric
– a refreshing smoothie using frozen pineapple, frozen berries, coconut water, and protein powder
– a tasty omelette using whole eggs and leafy greens
– sardines on toast with fruit salad of chopped apple, pineapple, and your favourite berries to follow