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How to Refuel After Your Run

The dietary discipline to how we approach exercise and nutrition is often stronger on the ’pre’ side of the workout than the ‘post’.

Understandable. We’ve got the job done, we got through the workout and we no longer have an immediate need to consider our physical well-being for an impending session or race.

However, how you follow up a run can impact your training in the long run. Without getting in the correct nutrients, electrolytes and fluids at the right times can lead to fatigue, low energy availability and a reduction in quality training in the future. This is especially true for those who exercise multiple times a day, even if the stressor is a different form of exercise all together.

Consider the following after exercising:

1. Consume a ratio of 4:1 carbohydrates to protein post exercise.

Good quality carbohydrates mixed with a small amount of protein (10-20g) enhances glycogen replacement. Having protein in the system also better promotes the process of building and repairing muscles and reduces muscle soreness.

Use the ratio as a guideline to inform your carb to protein intake, rather than a strict rule.

2. Consume your post exercise nutrition within 45 minutes of exercise.

Although you can still replenish glycogen stores at any part of the day, hitting this window optimally nourishes, repairs and builds muscles better than at any other time.

The stimulation of insulin released from the intake of carbs helps build muscle and transports glucose from the blood into the muscles to replenish depleted glycogen stores.

3. Consume 0.5 carbs per 1 pound of body weight.

The optimum amount of carb replenishment equals to around 1 x 0.5g, which for a 160 pound person would equal 80g of carbs. This depends on the level of activity undertaken, but can be considered a general guideline for an hour of moderately hard activity.

Your daily carbohydrate intake should be around 3 – 5g per pound of body weight a day, roughly 480g – 800g for a 160 pound person, which is often greatly misjudged with runners becoming chronically glycogen depleted.

Remember, the recovery process is just as important as the stressor that proceeded it – approach both with the same, considered mindset.

About the author

Endurance State Coach, specialising in long distance and trail running disciplines. As an all round runner with a successful background in a variety of running disciplines, from 5k to Ultramarathons. Chris has competed internationally for Great Britain and England in various mountain running disciplines.

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