Long Run Recovery – A Dietitian’s Perspective

Diana Davis RDN, LDN, CDE •

I often have conversations with athletes on the topic of recovery. In my profession as a sports nutritionist, this is a clear case of the benefits of “eating to recover” outweighing all other factors against doing so. There are a number of reasons that athletes give for not consuming a recovery snack or shake, and I want to comment on each of these here.

Lack of Time

Runners and triathletes are busy people, juggling full schedules with jobs, kids, friends, family, and of course, training. Normally highly committed and competitive, they make time to follow a coaching plan for many months before the big event. Training for endurance races includes a weekly long run and/or long ride. When queried about the consistent use of a recovery snack or shake immediately after the long run/ride, these amazing athletes often tell me “I have to get home” or “I just don’t have time” (to plan, prepare, pack, and consume said recovery snack). Time is a limited commodity and none of us can squeeze more minutes into the day, but we always find time for those things that are important. An effective plan or product for recovery for this group must be ready to be consumed within seconds while cooling down, stretching or in the car on the way home.

No Appetite/Not Hungry

Some athletes experience nausea or lack of appetite after an especially hard effort or long workout. The last thing on their minds is eating or drinking any recovery snack, let alone one that contains the right balance of carbohydrates and protein to rebuild glycogen stores and repair muscle damaged by that workout. Just like the runners who lack time, these athletes need a recovery strategy that is fast, fluid, palatable and easy to digest, therefore gentle on the tummy.

Concern about Calories/Carbohydrates

Another concern that weight conscious runners have expressed as rationale for not consuming an appropriate recovery snack or shake is calories or carbohydrates. The popularity of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets has influenced many athletes to believe that all carbs are bad and that they should be avoided, even within the training or recovery windows. The use of a blend of rapidly digested, natural sugar and more slowly digested starch in a recovery drink is key to refilling your body’s carbohydrate stores within muscles and the liver.  

Research shows that carbohydrate intake within the recovery window should be 3 times greater than protein intake to facilitate optimal uptake of protein into muscle for tissue repair. In my role as their nutritionist, I emphasize to my clients that denying the body these carbohydrates at this key time when they are best absorbed and utilized will not only compromise recovery but likely lead to cravings for sugar or carbs later in the day. This only perpetuates an unhealthy “diet > restrict > binge” pattern that hinders their progress toward both training and personal weight goals.

Special Recovery Formula is “Too Costly”

I recommend a recovery product: Runners Essentials Long Run Recovery Nutritional Shake that contains the right combination of carbohydrate, proteins, electrolytes, vitamins & minerals, amino acids and some amazing nutritional supplements (Alpha GPC, Tart Cherry, Ashwagandha) to enhance the training effect of the long run or ride. This recovery shake, is currently selling for $4.48 per serving based on a 4-pack for $17.95 (regularly $22.50).  Compare it to the price of your favorite fancy coffee or smoothie – neither of those beverages will benefit your recovery the same way that Runners Essentials Long Run Recovery Nutritional Shake will.

FAST! It can be prepared in a shaker bottle in a few seconds by combining the single serve packet with a chilled water bottle that is in a cooler in your car for that purpose.

APPETIZING! If you finish a long run/ride feeling sick to your stomach, take a few minutes to cool down with an easy jog /walk or spin, then drink water or an electrolyte drink to make sure that you are adequately hydrated, then mix up your recovery shake. Try to consume the recovery shake within 30-60 minutes after you complete your long run or long ride to get the best bang for your buck! It is available in Hot Chocolate Flavor with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt or Vanilla Birthday Cake Flavor (Hot Chocolate is my favorite - it tastes delicious). It can be mixed with your favorite plain or flavored water, milk or juice. The possibilities are endless. 

THE RIGHT CALORIES/CARBS AT THE RIGHT TIME! The extra calories burned in exercise is one of the best things about our longest training day – it means that we have earned the right to eat or drink some extra good stuff!  At 280 calories and 48 grams of total carbohydrates (with 15 grams of protein), the Runners Essentials Long Run Recovery Nutritional Shake is the best and first use of those calories because it will help you feel so much better later that day and recover better over the next day, so that you go into the next training week feeling stronger.

MONEY WELL SPENT!  Each athlete makes decisions about how to go about training and recovery and how much money they will spend. There are many options at different price points for recovery nutrition and I encourage each person to find what works for them and their budget. If you are looking for a recovery shake and recovery nutrition strategy that applies our current knowledge based on research, the Runners Essentials Long Run Recovery Nutritional Shake is it. 

Give it a try after each of your long runs for one month – it is money well spent, to complement your training! Check it out.

Written by Runners Essentials

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