Are a few suds the best way to recover from a race or long run?
Written by: Linzay Logan
One could only wish. Beer may sound like everything you’ve ever dreamed of after a race, but drinking a few cold ones after a long run or a marathon may do more harm then good.
Chances are in a race you have given it all you’ve got. You trained, you carbo-loaded, you stretched, and did everything else by the book. Don’t let all of that go by the wayside the moment the race is over. You still need to keep yourself in check if you want to recover properly.
Once you cross the finish line your first line of defense is to rehydrate yourself. Even if you have hydrated well before and during the race, you still need to take that water a volunteer hands you at the finish line and drink it. In addition to hydration, replenishing the nutrients in your body is key. Key nutrients are carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes. Drinks marketed for recovery will include these as well as get you hydrated. Sports drinks or chocolate milk are other good choices that refuel lost nutrients from a hard run. Try and get your drink on within 30 minutes after crossing the finish line.
Eating post-race is just as important as drinking your nutrients post-race.
Within two hours of finishing make sure you load up on carbs, protein and sodium. Carbs refuel your energy, protein helps repair and protect sore muscles and sodium helps to replace salt and retain water lost from sweating.
*Did you know electrolytes are just a fancy scientific term for salt? Drink a sports drink with electrolytes to help return sodium levels back to normal after sweating it out or sprinkle a little extra salt over your food.
Unfortunately, beer doesn’t fall into the category of what we need after a race besides the carb factor. Indulge in the beer garden with one, but more than that and you’re likely to dehydrate yourself more.
I never said we follow the rules all the time though. Here are some of the Competitor staff’s favorite post-race or post-long run favorites:
Matt Fitzgerald: Usually I don’t eat anything terribly naughty after a long run, but one of my biggest craves is a nice, big, juicy carne asada burrito. Now, long rides are another matter. I traditionally devour an entire frozen pizza (cooked, of course) after anything longer than four hours.
Mario Fraioli: Brunch of any sort. Give me a big pile of pancakes or a waffle bigger than my head and I’m a happy man, regardless of how the race went.
Sabrina Grotewold: Totally depends on the season (OK, maybe seasons don’t matter so much anymore now that I live in SD), how I felt on the run and how long the run was. If it’s hot out and I just completed a fast-finish long run of 20+ miles, usually a fruit and yogurt smoothie with protein powder works to settle my stomach. An hour or two later, I’ll be massively hungry, and that’s when I like to eat stuff like omelets with potatoes or french toast.
Maya Shaff: Over easy eggs with multigrain toast is THE best meal after a long run. Seriously, try it! For an extra touch of deliciousness add in a mimosa too.
TJ Murphy: One to two pints of Newcastle Brown Ale. That’s my favorite but I don’t actually do it except on rare occasions of delinquency. Maybe rare isn’t the right word, but it’s the politically correct word.
Linzay Logan (author): My favorite hands down is a Costco hotdog and Diet Coke. Carbs, protein and sodium…the perfect combo, right? Although, I was all over the salty pretzels after the Safari Park Half Marathon yesterday and then might have had some fun at Stone Brewing Co.
Linzay Logan is the copy editor for Competitor magazine and cares about punctuation probably a little too much. She particularly loves to avoid commas as well as add exclamation points whenever she can get away with it! She also loves to run marathons and half-marathons—probably a little too much. Don’t let her small size fool you; she’ll still try to outrun you anytime. Even though chances are she probably can’t.