Recovery Nutrition

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Recovery after a run is important to help enhance adaptations to training and help to prepare for the next training session. Optimal recovery may encompass a number of nutrition-related processes, including refueling of muscle glycogen stores, repair and adaptation of muscle tissue and finally rehydration to replace lost fluid and electrolytes.

Carbohydrates for refueling glycogen stores

Carbohydrate refueling is especially important if you run again within 24 hours i.e. taking part in a 3-day multi-stage trail run event. It is important to start refueling within 30 minutes post-exercise with 1-1.5g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. Within 2 hours follow up with the same amount of carbohydrates or have a high carbohydrate meal. That is 60-90g of carbohydrate for a 60kg runner.

Protein to build and repair muscle

Protein, consumed after a workout, provides all the amino acids needed to repair damaged muscle and to promote the development of new muscle. We know that trail running is not only endurance training but also involves a lot of muscle power to climb those hills. A general requirement is 10-20g of high quality protein within an hour after a run.

Fluids and sodium to rehydrate

Most runners will be slightly dehydrated after a run, therefore restoring fluid balance is a priority. It is important to regain hydration before the next run is started.

  • Carbohydrate-containing drinks are useful as they simultaneously assist with refueling and encourage greater intake due to palatability.
  • Keep the drinks cool (15ºC)
  • Rehydration will be more effective when sodium is included either in the fluids or by the foods consumed within the recovery stage.
  • For every 1 kilogram lost, gradually consume 1.5L of fluid.
  • Continue to hydrate until urine is pale yellow.

Post-exercise snack ideas

Carbohydrate-focused
Sports drinks Addressing fluid needs as well
Fruit juice or soft drink
Banana sandwich
Sports bar Read the label, some may contain protein too
Salted pretzels Will increase sodium intake
Carbohydrate & Protein snacks
Fruit smoothie Addressing fluid needs as well
Liquid meal supplement
Low fat Chocolate milk
Breakfast cereal with milk and fruit
Sandwich with meat/cheese filling Add salt to aid in sodium intake
Baked potato with grilled chicken and cheese