Monday, April 13, 2015

30 minutes or less (Recovery is where the MAGIC happens)

I think about food. I think about food often. Strike that. I think about food constantly. More so when I'm on a long run or during a hard workout. Fantasizing about the big honking burrito (breakfast or veggie or bean & rice?) and where I will buy it (Oscar's or Alberto's or PK's or Chipotle?) gets me through to the end. 

Something happens when I finish--I'm weirdly not hungry (this is, actually, pretty common). Food is the last thing I'm thinking about. Trainers, articles, experts have always extolled the necessity of post-workout nutrition. About how it's vital to eat something soon after you finish. Until recently, I've always poo-pahed this advice. I'll eat when I'm hungry. I have no problem eventually replacing the calories I just burnt (see: big honking burrito).

See--That was the problem with my thinking. Post-workout nutrition is not just about calorie replacement. I finally had a light bulb moment when I realized (or truly listened to the pros) that it's all about recovery so I can nail my next hard workout. It's about refilling my glycogen stores (The Importance of Glycogen Stores to Runners), helping my muscles recover, getting me ready for my next round. Research shows that your muscles absorb these nutrients 3 times as fast in the first 30 minutes after as compared to other times. And here is my Super Lightbulb Moment: Any progression, any improvement from my workout is gained during the recovery phase! And there is no way I'm not going to squeeze the most out of a killer track workout. RECOVERY is where the MAGIC happens. I'm preaching it. 

Now after a run or tough workout I always eat something within 30 minutes of finishing.  Usually a Picky Bar, because they are amazingcakes and formulated to have that perfect ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein that is optimal for recovery. It doesn't have to be complicated. Just 100-200 calories, mostly carbs with a bit of protein. Chocolate milk is a common recovery snack.

My own anecdotal evidence is that I'm performing and feeling better during my runs and workouts. Getting nutrition right, along with following a training plan to meet my running goals, resting on rest days seems to be working for me. 

Some reading:

Refuel to Boost Recovery

And a short video that explains it:

How Important Is Eating After A Workout?

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