Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recovery Lessons: Eating

An often overlooked process in running is recovery and an often overlooked part of recovery is eating.  Eating is important after running and even more so after a harder workout or a race.  Now, I am no scientist, not even a Biology or Chemistry major, but I can offer a few simple insights into proper recovery.  A key word in refueling is glycogen.  Glycogen is the primary way that your body stores Carbohydrates.  Glycogen is processed more than 3x faster in a time period know as the "refueling window".  This "window" is open for a short period of time after a run.  The time period had been debated over for years and is said to be between 15 minutes and 1 hour.  Something that is not debated on is that it is very important to eat sometime during that time.  Now, that time starts when you stop running.  Not when you stop doing your core workout or when you stop stretching or whatever your post run routine is.  I know that for myself and most others on my team that we spend more than 1 hour post run doing something other than eating.  Everyday I bring something to eat.  I recommend a decent sized snack of at least 200 calories.  I usually try to follow the 4:1 Carb to Protein ratio but I don't dwell on it too much.  If I can have a cold glass of chocolate milk that is ideal.  Other times I will have a Clif Bar, PB+J, Trail Mix, or anything like that.  Even simple sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade can help refuel your glycogen stores.  I also like to consume a decent amount of water with whatever I eat.  This helps both with hydration and with digesting the food you consume and turning it into glycogen.  Many people say you need protein immediately after a workout but I just try to get some in during my next larger meal, especially on harder effort days.

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