Nutrition part 3 – Post-run Recovery made easy

Guest blogger Nicole Walsh, Holistic Nutritionist

So you are all well into your training plans at this point and for the seasoned runners amongst us I’m sure your runs are enjoyable experiences. But are any of you finding that your post-run recovery is not a bundle of laughs? Sore muscles, heavy legs, sniffles, even signs of a cold coming on?

If this sounds familiar then we need to talk about your post-exercise recovery strategy. There are three major aspects to optimising your post-exercise recovery:
Bodily fuel replacement – officially called ‘Glycogen Replacement’
● Adequate Hydration – speaks for itself!
● Anti-oxidants – to maintain your ‘Biochemical Balance’

Attention to any one of these areas will aid your post-exercise recovery, but attention to all three will optimise your recovery each time and set you up for progressively better training and performance.

Put very simply if you don’t fuel your body to recover post exercise (or race) your body remains in a depleted state. This means that tissue damage continues, your immune system activity becomes suppressed, and injury sets in.

So some simple strategies to ensure effective post-exercise recovery are:

Pre–run:
Consume some protein
A little pre-run protein increases blood amino acid levels during the run, which appears to serve as a kind of biochemical signal that tells the muscles not to break down protein for fuel.

Post –run:
Replacement your Glycogen stores
Eat a recovery snack within 30 minutes of finishing your run. This will pay big dividends in your recovery and ability to workout. Your snack should contain mostly carbs with some protein and depending on your size should be around the 150 to 300 calories mark. Examples of minimally processed post recovery snacks include:
○ A smoothie made with berries and some greek yoghurt
○ ½ a wholewheat bagel with nut butter of your choice – almond is always a great option
○ A cup of chicken or chilli soup – ideally homemade and containing a good source of protein. Some homemade granola with greek yoghurt.
Remember minimally processed food is usually the smarter choice.

  • Hydration
    Keep sufficiently hydrated.
    The research is quite clear regarding hydration during and after exercise. You will become dehydrated — even with a short workout. Count on it and plan for it. In addition to drinking water it is also an idea to consider introducing an electrolyte beverage with low sugar concentrations that is quickly absorbed and retained by the body. Coconut water is a perfect example of this. It’s low in calories, naturally fat and cholesterol free and has more potassium than four bananas making it super hydrating.  This will help your body to recover and adapt so that you can reach peak performance.
  • Anti-oxidants
    Control inflammation, repair tissue damage, and restore muscle function.
    A lot of the muscle damage that occurs both during and after runs is caused by free radicals. A diet that is rich in antioxidants will strengthen your internal defences against exercise-induced free-radical damage. The best sources of dietary antioxidants are fresh fruits (blueberries are a wonderful choice) and vegetables. Increasing your consumption of fish, nuts, and flaxseeds and/or taking an omega-3 supplement will also further protect your muscles against free-radical damage during and after runs by strengthening muscle cell membranes.

Eat well, Feel well and Train well.

Nicole Walsh

Nutrition part 1 – Foods to avoid Fuelling up on!

Nutrition part 2 – Food to fuel up on – Healthy recipes!