You put a lot of effort into your running sessions. But what happens when you take that final stride? Is that it – the run is over, now it’s time to get on with the rest of your day? Or do you give some thought to how you’ll help your body recover, regrow and repair?
It’s well worth giving some thought to how you’ll eat and drink post-run to maximise recovery. After all, most of us think carefully about what we’ll eat (or avoid) to fuel our runs. But recovery is just as important, if not more so.
Think about it this way: what you eat after running is the first nutritional step to help your body prepare for your next run. It’s not just the banana or porridge you eat before your run which fuels you up, it’s the meals and snacks you’ve eaten in the 24-48 hours previously. So choose wisely!
The general idea is to mix protein and carbohydrates after you run, whilst avoiding too much fat (as this slows down the absorption of everything else). So, choose dairy (cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, quark), white meat (chicken or turkey), fish (tuna or white meat), eggs or egg whites or sports-specific protein products like protein powder (made into a drink). Avoid anything with added sugar (yogurt, protein drinks and protein bars are likely suspects). And for your carbohydrate hit, choose from a medium sized serving of fruit, a handful of dried fruit, starchy vegetables, root vegetables or potatoes, rice, pasta or bread. Just be aware that many people suffer from a mild form of gluten intolerance, so note whether bread and pasta ever cause bloating or other digestion issues.
You need fluid, carbohydrates and a little protein. So, drink some water, or real fruit juice and water (50/50) and eat a small meal or snack. Here are some recipe ideas for your post-run eats.
A small sandwich with sliced egg, ham, chicken or tuna
A small tub of cottage cheese with some fruit or raw vegetables
A small tub of Greek yogurt with some dried fruit and berries
An apple (or other fruit) and a protein shake
A couple of hard boiled eggs with some new potatoes or sweet potato
A small Spanish omelette
Rice or pasta salad with a serving of protein (eggs, chicken, tuna, prawns)
A bowl of leftovers from last night’s dinner! (after all, chances are you had some combination of starchy carbohydrates and protein)
Once you’ve eaten and had a drink, it’s time to shower, relax and recover. You should be satisfied enough that you can wait until your next meal time without a a growling stomach, and you’ll have kick started a cascade of physical responses within your body which will help your muscles, tendons and cells repair.
Here’s to recovery… and your next run!