Ran 24 this morning on the (mostly) dirt roads around Ann Arbor, and the weather was surprisingly good – i.e., not 90 degrees and not humid and with cloud cover and a breeze! Pretty nice. It was slower, though, and I suspect that’s because (a) my left hip/ankle was hurting, and (b) it was on roads. I’m 95% sure that on long runs on roads, I just get bored. Trails are so much more fun! A 26 mile trail run goes by so much faster (mentally, anyway) than 26 on the roads for me.
Related: when I got back, of course I headed for the kitchen, downed some gatorade and water, and went for a cookie or two… then I started thinking about what I really should be eating and drinking for proper long-run recovery. A quick search told me these key things:
1. Carbs and potassium are the most important things you need to replenish after a long run; protein and sodium are secondary because you most likely won’t need more than 10-20g of protein from muscle damage/strain, and you only sweat out a relatively small percentage of your body’s sodium stores (about 10% at most).
2. Timing is important! Your carbs and potassium should be consumed fairly soon after running – ideally, within half an hour to an hour – along with your fluid replacement. With fluids, drink until you’re not thirsty – and then keep drinking. Your body needs a lot of water after a long run, and it will stay dehydrated for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after a long run (or longer, if you’re running a stage race or something that puts a similar strain on your body – in which case, it’s important to stay hydrated so it doesn’t build up).
3. This one isn’t from the internet, it’s from personal experience. My stomach/GI system can be… finnicky even when I’m not running far, so I have to be especially careful when I’m on a long training run or racing. Especially for racing, two or three days to a week beforehand, I’m extremely careful about what I eat – nothing that will set off my pesky stomach issues. And during a run, I’m always careful to eat enough, but spread it out over a long enough time that it won’t shock my system and trigger something. And, of course, I try out new during-run fuel options before any race (which has made for a couple rather unpleasant training runs, but better now than later, when it really matters). Anyway, back to the original point: after a long run, if your stomach is like mine, it won’t handle everything you want to eat. I stick to relatively ‘safe’ (low-risk) things like bananas and peanut butter, whole wheat bread and tortillas, brown rice or quinoa, hummus, carrots, and green/red peppers, along with gatorade or a fruit smoothie*.
*A note on gatorade/fruit smoothie: if you read the first article I linked, it points out that natural fruit juices (and smoothies) have more carbs and potassium than typical sports drinks, and therefore make for better recovery. I checked it out and, indeed, fruit punch Gatorade has fewer carbs and less potassium than Naked Juice Mighty Mango fruit smoothie (delicious). Not sure about the electrolyte replacement, but in those two areas, juice/fruit wins.
peace love and running!