A full confession: some of us here at the blog like to run, but don’t take very good care of our bodies from a nutrition standpoint once we are done with our workout.
Sometimes, when we finish a race, we are so happy to have it over with that we immediately switch out of race mode and into “let’s do something else” mode. But as Robert Forster, PT and Roy M. Wallack explain in their book, Healthy Running Step by Step, the race doesn’t end when you cross the finish line. In fact, the first 15 minutes after you are done running is a crucial time to prime your body for recovery and growth.
THE 15-MINUTE RECOVERY WINDOW
To ensure a speedy recovery and best adaptation from a workout, you need to take in both carbohydrates and protein–the former will begin to refill the stores of glycogen you’ve used up, the latter will jump-start muscle repair. Do this quickly.
Science has established that there is a 15-minute window immediately following exercise in which the muscle cells are most receptive to absorbing these nutrients. If you let the window close without supplying them, all the hard work you just did and your recovery are compromised.
So you should….immediately gulp something sweet.
That will not only expand the cellular window, but keep it open longer. Technically pouring sugary, high-glycemic stuff such as fruit juices or recovery drinks into your bloodstream seconds after your workout is done will stimulate your pancreas to release insulin.
So will the aforementioned sources that break down quickly into sugars: potatoes, rice, non-wheat pastas, applesauce and breads. Make sure not to ingest much, if any fat, which will delay digestion. (That’s why a chocolate bar isn’t a good idea, because it contains too much fat. So feed your sweet tooth immediately, but not with a Hershey or Snickers bar.)
Actually, to stimulate the best insulin response, researchers have found that the optimal recovery drink or food has a 4-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio. That little bit of protein kicks the pancreas into a slightly higher gear, putting out even higher levels of insulin, which now works to aid recovery.
From the time you ingested sugary stuff, you can get another 30 or 40 minutes of open window time. That gives you time to get in a quick shower and then eat a balanced recovery meal of protein, carbs, and fat in proportions dictated by the phase of your training. In about four hours, your glycogen will be fully restored.
Miss this window, and recovery slows way down. All this leads to the obvious question: What actually happens if you miss the window? It dramatically delays a full recovery. Instead of carbohydrate being repacked in muscle cells, it mainly floats around in your bloodstream.
The liver than grabs a lot of it and turns it into fat for storage. It then can take as long as 24 hours to restore glycogen.
The result is experienced as ravenous hunger the rest of the day and low energy the following workout.
Healthy Running Step by Step will help runners of all ages and abilities understand why running injuries occur, how to prevent them, and how to speed up recovery. Injuries plague the majority of runners, wrecking training plans and cutting running careers short by decades, but they are not inevitable. Authors Robert Forster, P.T., and Roy M. Wallack explain that nearly all running injuries can be rehabilitated quicker and even avoided altogether with the right training, strengthening, stretching, running form, and diet strategy.
Drawing from Forster’s three decades of training and treating Olympic athletes and more than 10,000 runners at his award-winning Santa Monica, California, physical therapy and high-performance centers, this book emphasizes that better performance is inextricably bound to injury reduction and that a comprehensive, science-based training plan with built-in anti-injury “insurance” must include these crucial elements:
Proper technique and footwear
Posture and flexibility
This book also includes detailed, step-by-step rehabilitation matrixes for the five most common running injuries: IT band syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and hamstring injuries. Using these unique matrixes as your guide, you’ll recover from injuries more quickly and understand what you need to do to prevent their recurrence.
Healthy Running Step by Step is a must-have guide if you’ve ever been injured, are recovering from an injury, want to prevent injuries, or run injury-free for decades to come.