The best part of running more than ten miles in one shot? Is that you can eat something really, really huge and/or unhealthy afterward and you only feel sorta guilty about it. Some of my favorite post long run treats are a giant burrito at Chipotle or a cheeseburger (not a small cheeseburger either) at Five Guys. And y'all? I enjoy the CRAP out of those meals. I unhinge my jaw and shovel. I talk to my food. I give it praise! Post-run food is my friend. This guy knows what I mean:
YOU BITE THE FRY THE FRY BITES BACK! LOOK AT THE BACON!
(It's probably no wonder my doctor recently told me that we needed to keep an "eye on" my cholesterol level. I promise! This will STOP when I'm back to just half marathon training. But for now? Dayum dayum DAAAAAYUM!)
But, ohhhkay. There are some other things we can drink and eat to maximize our recovery.
1. Gatorade. The first thing I usually do is chug some Gatorade on my porch when I get home. Gatorade has gone through some changes over the years (once they added high fructose corn syrup and then had to un-add it because athletes quit drinking it. Hmm, WONDER WHY?). I have had an on-off relationship with Gatorade because I usually only drink the lemonade or orange flavor when I get sick. Well, during one bout of stomach flu I barfed up an entire 32-ounce orange Gatorade and that was the end of that. I've tried Vitamin Water (I like it!) and SmartWater, but mostly I just drank water.
I stumbled upon these flavors by accident … every once in a while a random case of Gatorade shows up in the back of my husband's pickup truck after a race and you KNOW I totally help myself because FREE STUFF. The flavor I got that day was Mango Extremo and it was soon coined "the best Gatorade flavor of them all" at our house. So when I found Watermelon Citrus and Lime Cucumber and any other flavor that said "SABOR" on it, I tried it and I have loved them all. If you're sick of the classic Gatorade flavors I highly recommend these if you can find them. Please note that these are just regular Gatorades (not the ones marketed specifically for "recovery"). I have found after a long run my body is just begging me for elecrolytes and glucose and these are very refreshing (even at room temp!).
2. Whey Protein. When I come inside, the next thing I usually chug is a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder in water (we like Muscle Milk. You can get a container like the one pictured below for about $20 at Target, but on Amazon they have flavors like CAKE BATTER. DUDE.). My husband got me doing this (he is a disciple of Tony Horton), and I think it does help. I just put a scoop of powder in a small Mason jar, add about 8 oz. of water, put on the top and shake it up and drink. Easy. I like to shake it because when I just stir with a spoon it's really hard to get all the powder dissolved and you end up drinking chunks. It's about as pleasant as it sounds.
Then I am usually on my way to an ice bath (if I've run 13 miles or more) to combat lactic acid buildup.
Also about as pleasant as it sounds.
3. Potassium. In short, lactic acid is the stuff that remains in your muscles after you work out that makes you feel sore. Aside from jumping in a freezing cold bathtub for 15 minutes (which actually really helps if you can handle it!) you can also eat something high in potassium to help flush it out. A lot of people choose bananas for this job, but if you're not a big banana fan like me – I'll eat one ONLY if it's at the perfect peak of ripeness or in a smoothie – you can also try red grapes. They actually have MORE potassium per serving than bananas! There are also potassium supplements you can take, but I've never tried that.
4. Eat within an hour. The most imporant thing I learned is that to maximize your recovery you need to eat within an hour of finishing your workout. Your body is in it's most efficient state to process and refuel and it NEEDS YOUR HELP. So come home, drink your Gatorade and whey protein, get a banana for a snack, hop in the ice bath and then get your butt to Five Guys and SANG IT:
GET YOURSELF THAT DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER! LET'S DO THIS!
Because marathon training is only for a season. And then it's back to carrot sticks and hummus and THAT IS NOT AS MUCH FUN.
What's your favorite way to splurge after you've run your butt off?
DISCLAIMER: Please note I am
not a doctor or a professional athlete. I am a regular person who does
what's right for herself. Please do the same for yourself. And consult a
doctor before beginning a new exercise regime or eating your face off at Five Guys. xo Manda