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What To Eat And Drink After A Long Run

Updated on September 23, 2016

Some people run because it's fun. Some do it because they want to push their limits. Some people do it because it's their profession. No matter what group you fall into as a runner, you should know that after a long run, you should be able to recharge your body through hydration and food intake.

Immediately After The Run

You will no doubt be all sweaty during and after your run so you would have to battle dehydration early on. After finishing a long run, make sure that you replenish your body's fluids. Drink plenty of liquids. Water is good but the better alternative is to rehydrate with sports drinks rich in electrolytes. Keep in mind that the body's thirst mechanism is not perfect. Even if you don't feel thirsty, your body may still need fluids. Once your urine runs clear, that's a great indication that full rehydration for the body is in sight.

Aside from fluids, your body would have also depleted its store of glycogen. These are carbohydrates stored by the body to be burned for energy. The muscles on your body would be able to replenish your stockpile of glycogen the fastest during the first couple of hours after a long run. This means that you need to take carbohydrates-rich food soon after finishing a long run.

Even if you don't feel hungry, you should eat at least a bagel or a banana. You should also get your hand on some Greek yogurt with granola, raspberries, and blueberries. The antioxidants from the berries would fight the damage to your body caused by the stress from the long run. Granola on the other hand has the carbohydrates needed by the body. Greek yogurt meanwhile has plenty of protein which is needed by the body to repair muscles.

The Days After The Long Run

Running a marathon would cause plenty of damage and stress to your muscles so it is imperative that you take time to recover fully after running long distances again. For a few days, your muscles would be aching and it's normal as the stress caused by running especially downhill would take time to show. Because of this, you need to not only be careful about what you eat but also what you do.

Avoid running especially long distances. You can get a massage, go biking, or swimming if you want to engage in an activity that would keep your body in tip-top shape. Aside from giving your body its much needed rest, you also have to watch what you eat.

Adequate protein intake is recommended as it would help speed up your muscle's recovery. It is recommended to consume about 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For a 60kg runner for instance, that would mean 72 to 96 grams of protein intake every day.

Make sure that you eat in small portions but in higher frequency. This way, you would not overwork your digestive system. The stress on the body would make your metabolism slower than usual so do not overwork it. Drink plenty of water too as it would help keep inflammation down and aid in keeping your metabolism in its natural pace.

Of course, you should always think about how healthy your diet is. Nutritious fruits and proper hydration even when you are just resting would make your body recover faster. Also, it would help you ready it for another long run in the near future which could be in about a month depending on how strict you are with your protein diet to repair the muscle damage you have sustained.

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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Nice piece on running nutrition although personally I would steer clear of energy gels after a run. To recharge your carbohydrate stores you ideally want complex carbohydrates which will not result in the insulin spikes that simple sugars cause.

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