Expert Panel Question???
Question: “What is the best way to recover after a long run?”
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After completing a long run, your first priority is to REFUEL. Since your body’s muscles are depleted, it is important to get something in your body to begin the refueling process as soon as possible – the sooner the better but definitely within an hour. I approach Recovery Nutrition in stages, aim for 3 eating episodes over a four-hour period.
Stage 1: As soon as possible. Often this first eating episode involves a drink containing readily available-easy-to-digest carbohydrate with small amounts of protein (10-20g). The carbohydrate helps replenish depleted muscle stores and the protein helps initiate the muscle rebuilding process. Choices include sport drinks, smoothies, recovery drink mixes, or chocolate milk). Drinks serve the dual role of re-hydration and nutrient replenishment; however, don’t feel limited. Sport bars/gels, bagels, cereal, yogurt, crackers, and PB&J sandwiches are all examples of readily available carbohydrates, with some protein, that you should be consuming within 30 minutes of completing a long run. What you choose depends on where you finish your run, convenience, and how you feel. If your run is more than 90 minutes, you should also be consuming some carbohydrates during the run – this will hugely impact how you feel after the run and how quickly you recover.
Stage 2: Within 2 hours of completing your long run, aim to have a meal. This should be a balanced meal, replete with carbohydrate, protein, and small amounts of healthy fat.
Stage 3: Within 4 hours of completing your long run, another snack will round out the recovery process. A carton of yogurt, some fruit, a granola bar, or some toast with peanut butter will do the trick.
The 4-6 hour window after finishing a long run represents an ideal time for refueling. During this window your body is primed to accept carbohydrate back into depleted muscles. Waiting longer to begin the refueling process slows recovery dramatically and will delay your body’s ability to be ready for your next training run.
In addition to paying attention to your post-long-run nutrition, rest can be important. How much rest you will need varies between individuals. You will want to consider what percentage of your weekly mileage your long run represents, how long you have been running, and the amount of recovery your body has needed to feel recovered in the past. You do not necessarily need to take days off from running after a long run, but you must refuel and listen to your body for appropriate recovery and healthy training.
by Kristi Spence – Masters of Science, Registered Dietitian | Sport Dietitian | TOSH Sport Science | Elite Athlete: Half-Marathon/Marathon