This past Sunday I decided to photograph of my meals explain how I fuel (and refuel) on the day of my long run. Just as fueling during a long run is critical for maintaining a strong performance throughout the entire run, fueling properly after a long run aids in a faster recovery. This will better prepare your body for the follow up run to your long run.
A 2 hour+ long run depletes your body’s glycogen stores (the body’s source of quick energy for fueling long-term aerobic exercise), places wear and tear on muscles and stresses the cardiovascular system; a recovery meal with a ratio of 4:1 grams of carbohydrates to protein is often recommended to endurance athletes within 15-30 minutes of finishing the exercise. The nutrients you take in during your recovery meal are quickly broken down to help your cardiovascular system repair as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Remember, your body not only needs water and nutrients after a workout, but also throughout the entire day! I planned on taking pictures of my meals on Sunday to show how I successfully fuel the day of a long run; unfortunately by the end of day I realized that I made several mistakes (oops!). So, I though I’d share them with you! You live and you learn, right?
Sunday’s Workout and Eats
I woke up at 6:30 am and ate half of a homemade oat bar with dried cherries and walnuts (recipe here!).
I don’t like to eat a lot of food before my long run so a half a bar (over an hour before I go) or an applesauce often works well. Oats being a complex carbohydrate should actually be avoided before a long run! Complex carbohydrates take a longer time for body to digest and will likely wreak havoc on your digestive tract during the run (toot toot, beep beep… if you know what I mean…). Foods made of simple carbohydrates, like applesauce and small fig bars are more easily digested and more quickly broken down into usable fuel for a long run.
I ate my oat bar with pride that morning, waited about 75 minutes and headed out for my long run about 7:45 AM. The 17 miler went well! I fueled every 4 miles with a cherry flavored clif’s shot block (it’s like a big gummy bear! yum!) and Gatorade.
I finished the run around 10 AM. I ran directly into the shower, got dressed, grabbed my bag of food for the day (prepped the night before) and left by 10:30 for a shift at the running store!
Did I eat? NOPE. Did I drink any water? NOPE. Did I stretch? Does bending down to shave my legs in the shower count- no, sadly it does not. Fail on all three counts.
I made it to work at Greater Boston Running Company (Hingham) and quickly scarfed down a delicious peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat bread nearly an hour after I finished running. While this is a great recovery meal with tons of carbs and protein I should have eaten something sooner at home!
An hour or so later I noshed on a homemade fig bar! (recipe here!)
The store was abuzz with tons of awesome runners training for the Boston marathon! Even though I was starving I didn’t have time to eat another snack until 4 pm. Then I ate the most delicious yogurt there is out there: Fage yogurt with honey. When else can you eat a spoonfull of honey and feel like you are being healthy?
After the store closed at 6 PM went into the back to fill out the end of day paperwork. I nibbled on some yummy red grapes from Whole Foods.
By the time I got home at 6:30 pm I was starving! Thankfully Owen had prepared dinner: a low fat turkey chili with cheddar cheese, avocado, fat free sour cream and Trader Joe’s cornbread on the side. This meal was chock full of nutrients: protein from the turkey, cheese and beans, vegetables (carrots, onions, celery and some red peppers) in the chili, and healthy fats from the avocado! Delicious!
And then came my favorite part of the day…
After dinner I craved something sweet (as ususal). While participating in RunChat on Twitter I nibbled on a large handful of dried cranberries, cherries and raisins and unsalted and roasted nuts from Trader Joe’s and had a cup of apple cider tea. (I love my Sunday nights because of #runchat! woohoo!)
So what went wrong?
1. First and foremost I didn’t eat or drink anything when I returned from my run! BIG MISTAKE! I need to prioritize time to refuel just like I prioritize my runs every day.
2. While I’m not sure- I don’t feel like I ate enough throughout the day considering how far I ran. I actually brought lentils, carrots and an apple with me to work, but didn’t have time to eat f them. At the same time, I did eat small meals about every two hours throughout the day. In the future I would like to include more fruits and vegetables into Sunday long-runday.
3. I definitely did not drink enough water throughout the day! You should aim to drink 64 oz of water on a typical day, right? When you run you should aim to drink 64 oz + the amount of fluid you sweat out on the run. I am fairly certain I drank 4-5 glasses of water over the course of the day – NOT ENOUGH. Dehydration can lead to strained muscles and injuries on future runs.
You don’t just fuel for the run you are about to complete (or have just completed), but also for the next run, and the one after that!
Last Week’s Workouts
M – 60 min lift
T – Speedwork: Workout- 4×400, 6 miles @ goal race pace.
Result- 4×400 @ 95 sec, & 6 miles @ 6:50 pace.
* I did this workout on Quincy YMCA’s indoor track. Since the track isn’t banked, it is difficult to pick up speed and is rough on the knees. I wouldn’t recommend the 200 m indoor track for this workout in the future. But I guess that is winter training at it’s finest- we’re doing the best with what we have available!
W – 4 mi easy (8:15 easy pace) @ Quincy YMCA track; core work
Th- 9 mi easy (8 min pace) treadmill
F – 9 mi Tempo Run (7:31 pace) outside, quick pace, felt great!!
S- 3 mi easy (8:02 pace) @ Quincy YMCA track; 45 min lift
Su- 17 miles Long Run (2:13 hours, 7:50 pace)
Total Miles: 52 miles