This blog post is in collaboration with my friends at adidas Runners Auckland. adidas Runners is a global running network community, which sees like-minded runners coming together to hit the streets of their city in a weekly group run - and is currently up-and-running across more than 50 cities, and on every continent, globally! I’m stoked to be teamed up with the crew as adidas Runners Auckland’s Nutritionist. My personal experience with the community has been incredible so far - the vibes are positive, supportive, sociable and fun. I always leave feeling happy! We meet rain-or-shine, every Tuesday eve at 5:45pm for a 6pm run at the adidas store in Britomart on Custom St East, and have a wonderfully supportive FB community. Come join the fun! (NOTE: due to COVID-19 adidas runners Auckland has been placed on hold)
There’s lots to gain from a long run – improved cardiovascular health and muscle tone, increased stamina and endurance, and a whole heap of those sweet sweeeeet feel-good chemicals (thanks endorphins!).
There’s a bit lost in this exchange too – hydration and minerals, like potassium and sodium, as we sweat; micro tears in our muscle cells that’ll need repairing, and of course glycogen, our bodies back up’ ‘petrol tank’, stored in our muscle and liver. This serves as an all-important energy reserve for long-distance runners – the more glycogen stored before a run, the more fuel on hand when we hit the pavement.
Replenishment and recovery of these systems post-run will happen most optimally with rest, hydration and food. For the latter, with shorter, lower intensity, runs you don’t need to worry as much about following a specific eating regimes…just continuing with your normal nutritious diet should totally suffice.
However, for a quicker more efficient recovery, on longer, more intense runs, it’s ideal to replace energy stores as quick as you can, and with a particular combination of nutrients. Without doing so, we risk our performance and beneficial adaptations being hindered (1).
The best nutrient mix for post-run recovery is a mix of carbohydrates and protein (2). The carbs replace glycogen we used up and the protein will help rebuild muscle fibres. They work synergistically too – the combination helps the body resynthesises muscle glycogen more than just carbohydrates alone. But ratios are important – if we have too much protein, this may inhibit our body’s absorption of carbs by slowing digestion, as protein takes a wee while to be absorbed. Aiming for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio ideal – so for every 3-4g of carbs you have 1g of protein.
Studies have show that muscles are more receptive to glycogen rebuilding within the first 30 minutes after exercise (3) – meaning they’re primed for nutrient uptake! Therefore, if you can aim to eat not long after a run, you’ll kickstart recovery on the right foot.
I’ve teamed up with my friends at adidas nz to create a post-run smoothie. This would be ideal recovery drink for longer distance ventures (10km+ or runs over an hour) or when you’re needing to restore depleted glycogen (aka your bodies back up petrol tank!) after exercise. It contains:
Coconut water a natural recovery drink; with easily absorbed carbohydrates and electrolytes, including potassium and sodium, to replace important minerals we’ve sweated out.
Banana a tasty, naturally rich source of carbohydrates and the mineral potassium.
Berries a potent source of antioxidants. Research has shown that antioxidant ingestion after exercise in long-distances runners may lead to improved performance (4).
Plain yoghurt or protein powder to provide protein for muscle repair.
…and a bit of peanut butter because yum. Made with a combo of fat, protein, and fibre, it’ll help with satisfying.
When prepared with yoghurt, expect 14.6g protein and 39.7g carbs per smoothie, so pretty on point with the 3:1 ratio. Made with protein powder it’s more 14.9g protein and 37.4g carbs.