After any run, especially an ultra as long as the Comrades, it’s important to eat and drink properly to replenish glycogen stores and to rehydrate. These guidelines – I call them the four R’s of Recovery – will help you to recover quicker, so you can get started on chasing down your next running goal. – BY CHRISTINE PETERS, REGISTERED DIETICIAN
Consuming 20 to 25g of protein soon after exercise enhances repair of damaged muscle and stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Specifically, opt for whey protein, as it contains the key ‘trigger’ amino acid leucine, which promotes muscle growth. Dairy also contains whey, so milk and yoghurt have become an inexpensive and handy solution for post-run repair.
Your total carb requirement post-exercise is determined by the intensity and the duration of your session. Athletes should have 1g of carb per kilogram of body weight after exercise, at regular intervals (i.e. each hour for the first four hours) and then resume normal eating patterns. It must be stressed that this is for runners who intend training within the next eight to 24 hours. There’s less stress on ultra-runners who intend to take it easy after their long run or the race itself.
Replacement of about 120% of fluid losses incurred during exercise is recommended within the first one to three hours after your finish, so you need 1.2L for every 1kg lost during the run. Rehydration solutions and salty foods in meals and snacks help fluid and electrolyte replacement.
Athletes should incorporate a range of vitamins and minerals during the post-exercise period through the use of whole-foods rather than single nutrient supplements. Whole-foods provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to recover quicker. Flavoured milk, for example, provides protein, carbs and fluid, together with calcium and B-vitamins. Athletes should always have a food-first approach to avoid deficiencies that could hinder their later performance.
RECOMMENDED RECOVERY MEAL
Thai Chicken with Curried Yoghurt & Coriander Marinade
50g carb & high protein, serves 2 to 4
4 chicken breasts, skinned
Ground black pepper
175ml low-fat plain yoghurt
30ml Thai red curry paste
60ml coriander leaves, chopped
500ml frozen whole corn OR 1 cup uncooked rice
1. Slice each chicken breast open, flattening with a rolling pin.
2. Flavour the chicken with the salt and black pepper.
3. Mix the yoghurt, curry paste and coriander.
4. Cover the chicken with the mix and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Fry the chicken pieces on both sides until cooked.
6. Serve on a bed of corn/rice with two cooked vegetables.
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