Sunday 1/18/09 - Recovery Nutrition

Week three.  1/2 Training. 50, 60 or 80 minutes at Shelby. Recovery Nutrition

Our runs are getting longer, and as they get longer I want to get you guys thinking about nutrition and recovery.  It is vital that you replenish your energy stores after you finish running, espeically after long runs.  We will learn about refueling during long runs later (your body stores enough energy to run for about 90 minutes - so at this point we should all be fine...)  In fact, we will practice taking in calories during a run later in the training cycle.  Today I want to talk about nutrition after the run.

When to Eat

Everyone knows that you have to refill the gas tank after you finish working out, but what has come to light recently (or at least fairly recently...), is that you need to refill the tank ASAP.  It's not a good idea to go home after your run and take a 2 hour nap before you have a meal.  After you stop exercising, your body has the ability to easily take in calories and convert them to glycogen (fuel for your muscles); but after about 60 minutes, that ability drastically descreases.  So if you wait to eat for too long, it will take your body much longer to recover from a workout becuase your muscles won't accept glycogen as readily.

What to Eat

Not only should you consume calories shortly after you finish exercising, but a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein was found to be the optimal mix of a recovery meal/drink.  Lots protein is bad, and only carbs is bad.  This fact was discovered by Ed Burke, the inventor of  Endurox recovery drink.  About 10 years ago (wow, time flies...), Outside magazine had a great article about Ed and recovery nutrition in general.   This article gives lots of suggestions of things to eat outside of the manufactured nutrition realm.  You don't need to go out and buy $200 worth of nutritional supplements, for example, chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink.  (Carbs, protein and fluids...everything an East Nasty needs.)


BAD IDEA:  You're meeting a friend for brunch at noon.  Great.  So you'll go for a run, and you'll be nice and hungry for your meal at 12.  So instead of eating after the run, you just drink a bunch of water and wait for your brunch.  Boo.  The whole point of Ed Burke's research was that calories taken in immediately after a run, are significantly more effective than calories taken in later on.  (Even eating more calories later on doesn't help.)

BETTER IDEA:  Bring 16 ounces of gatorade and a Lemon Zest Luna bar (mmmmmm..... Lemon Zest Luna Bar), consume those immediately after your run.  Believe me, your body will thank you for it, and you will still be ready to eat at noon!

If you want more details check out the article above.  It's great.  But if you are thinking: Mark, what's the bottom line for Sunday mornings....

Bottom Line for Sunday mornings: Immediately after you run drink 16-32 ounces of fluids, and take in 200-400 calories.  Water + balance bar, recovery drink,  chocolate milk, whatever - just grab your fluids and/or snack and consume those during  your post-run stretch.  Then head over to Ugly Mugs (and/or home) to finish your meal!

See you on Sunday!