A Speedy Recovery

As you know, I ran a 50K four days ago and I am running a 50-miler in less than four weeks.

Normally, after a race, I like to relax and embrace my gluttonous side for a week or so. Think chips. Think milkshakes. Think more chips. However, with another race right around the corner, this was not an option.

I’ve heard about guys like Nick Clark and Ian Sharman who will go out and run a day or two after a hundred miler. I can’t really comprehend it. With that being said, I’ve been reading up on recovery and there was a great article in the August issue of UltraRunning written by registered sports dietician/nutritionist Sarah Koszyk.

Here’s a highlight from the article:

“Glucose and sucrose are twice as effective as fructose in restoring muscle glycogen after exercise, because fructose is first converted to liver glycogen, whereas glucose skips going to the liver and goes directly to the muscles. Whether the carbs are simple or complex doesn’t really matter. You can increase your muscle glycogen with both types of carbs. The main goal is to have the carbs contain glucose and/or sucrose so they bypass the liver and go straight to your muscles for optimal recovery. Also, the faster you start to increase your muscle glycogen by making some more, the better recovery you will have. You’ll feel less muscle soreness. Your legs won’t quiver every time you sit down…

You want to focus on high glycemic carb sources because higher glycemic carbs will be easily digested in the body and rapidly assimilated. Lower glycemic carbs tend to take longer to get absorbed and are not ideal for efficient restoration of muscle glycogen. According to the Journal of Sports Science, after the race, you want to consumer 1.0 to 1.2 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight within the first 15 to 30 minutes.”

I’m going to be honest – I’ve always been skeptical of stuff like this. I mean, not science in general – just quick fix recovery plans.

Regardless, I figured I would give it a try after the 50K. Right near the finish line, I set aside a Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator (90 calories, 20g of carbs, 4g of protein, vegan) and a ProBar Base (290 calories, 32g of carbs, 21g of protein, vegan). I realize this is 53g of carbs while the Journal of Sports Science suggests I should be closer to 70g – baby steps. Baby steps.

My stomach was not in a good place, but I somehow managed to get it all down within twenty minutes of finishing the race.

And then I woke up the next day…

Whoa. I could stand. I could walk. I probably could have gone for a run!! I erred on the side of caution and took off Sunday and Monday. However, on Tuesday, I threw on my shoes and went out for a five-mile jog. No problemo!

This could be life-changing. Sure, I won’t always want to get right back out there and go for a run! But there is something to be said for walking down stairs and not tearing up when you want to stand up.

The next time you do a longer race (or workout), give it a try! Stash some nutritious drinks/snacks near the finish and see what happens!

In the meantime, happy running!!

How do you usually recover from a hard workout or race?

Do you believe in science?

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16 Responses to A Speedy Recovery

  1. Chris P says:

    Great post, and congratulations again! The day after a marathon, or a very long training run, I would take off for 1 to 2 days. Increasingly, instead of this I often jog a few miles the day after. Nothing too strenuous. I don’t always do this, it depends on how I feel. The idea I live by is that resting is training, so taking a day or a few days off won’t hurt you. Often, I’m so achy and exhuasted I have little choice in the matter.

    As far as science goes, I am in the pro-science camp. While it isn’t perfect, I believe it is the best way to figure out what really works. For example, it is because of science that I stopped static stretching years ago. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows static stretching doesn’t improve speed, endurance, or prevent injury in runners. It may even increase the risk! Runners simply don’t require that much flexibility. Not only do I no longer waste my time with stretching, I’m a better, faster runner now than when I stretched. There are some other science-based recommentations that have helped me.

    The fact that scientific recommendations frequently change is often portrayed as a weakness by people who have a problem with science. Yet this isn’t a weakness, it is its strength. Unlike pseudo-science, it self-corrects. It is an ever-evolving body of knowledge, and this is what makes it so powerful. It is because of science that we have so much amazing technology like the internet, and those really neat GPS apps for recording our epic runs.

    Good luck with your upcoming race!

  2. Sweaty Mess says:

    I’ve been drinking my chocolate milk and usually have some carby snack on hand for immediately after. I tend to just take it easy for the rest of the day (not that I’m running Ultras or anything). I do believe in the science behind recovery even though sometimes it all sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus. Our bodies can do amazing things and are made to recover from them. We just have to give it the proper fuel it needs to get the job done.

  3. Jane Likes to Run says:

    I will have to try that next time. 70 grams is a lot. I don’t know if I could handle it either. I usually like some chocolate min and a Cliff bar after a long run, and I usually feel pretty good the next day. But this recovery seems amazing!
    I am a scientist, so in general I go believe in science! But sometimes I have my doubts.

  4. Hollie says:

    Wow maybe I’ll have to give this a try. I had no idea and had always wondered if any of this stuff worked. That’s interesting and thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m a baby doctor, so I’m big on science and that summary of post-run and race recovery requirements is about as good as we currently have for recommendations. The only alteration I would make is that sucrose IS fructose + glucose, so eating “only” sucrose and glucose instead of fructose is sort of a change in name only. That being said, glucose is rapidly absorbed (which is why I use glucose tabs in races) and also easiest on the gut, which I think is the limiting factor for most people after long races or efforts.

    Good luck on your rebounding! I’ll be doing a similar turnaround from Albany to Vegas and missing my week of vegging on the couch big time!!

  6. dgobs says:

    Hmm… intriguing! I might have to try this after my next race. Two days of being barely able to walk and navigating a workplace with ALL the stairs makes me willing to try all the glucose right after a race. Thanks for posting this!

  7. haha I am loving all of these gifs! Have a great 50 miler!! I have toyed with the idea of doing one…maybe one day 🙂

  8. sushismith says:

    I loved the quote you put from the article, and I completely agree! That’s why I love ❤ carbs (I'm also a fan of Vega products as well, I wish I could afford Rich Roll's Jai Repair recovery stuff, but I don't have those funds in my life!) Vega works great too though! Good luck on your 50-miler! And cute cat GIF, as well as great movie GIFs!

  9. lljkline says:

    I believe in Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator 😉

  10. Rest is key for me..and I usually make sure to ingest protein within an hour after a long run.

  11. piratebobcat says:

    Glad you found something that works for you. The past few years my big races have been in January…then I take a couple weeks off before getting back at it. My recovery drink is a white russian though.

  12. marathonsam says:

    Awesome post! I’ve never tried specific “recovery” products, I typically just make a point to try and chow something carb-y (like a banana or oatmeal) and something protein-y (like yogurt) soon after I run or race. I’m definitely a little lax on the timing, and exact proportions though. I’m intrigued by those Vega products, it’s cool that you (and some other bloggers) have had such a great experience with them!

    I DEFINITELY believe in science. Science gives me thrills and pays my bills…well, it gives me thrills, at least. A PhD stipend isn’t a one-way ticket to the lap of luxury.

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