Nutrition after training
You have completed your training – great! -, but now it’s time to start the second part of your training: the recovery. Something people often overlook but this can help you make the difference you need to excel in your trainings and your adventures.
To make it easier for you to remember what is important during your recovery, we will work with the 4R model.
Rest is crucial for recovery as it allows the body to repair and rebuild. After a grueling trail run, especially on challenging terrains, giving your body adequate rest is essential. This involves:
- Sleep: Quality sleep is when most of the body’s repair processes occur. Trail runners should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, especially after intense training sessions or races. What might help to get in some better quality Zzz’s is taking a magnesium supplement before going to bed. Magnesium will help your muscles relax, so you will sleep better.
- Active recovery: Light activities like walking or gentle stretching can enhance blood circulation and reduce muscle stiffness without putting too much strain on the body, promoting recovery. But be careful to not overdo it and to go for little strolls of approx 30min.
Trail running often leads to significant fluid loss through sweat, especially during long and intense runs. Proper rehydration is critical for recovery. Trail runners should focus on:
- Hydration strategies: Replenish lost fluids by drinking water, electrolyte-rich beverages, or consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables. Proper hydration aids in maintaining electrolyte balance and preventing dehydration-related issues.
- How to know if you did drink enough/ are hydrated? Look at the colour of your pee.
After a trail run, refueling your body with the right nutrients is essential to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissues, and prepare your body for the next run. Trail runners should focus on:
- Carbohydrates: Consume complex carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources.
- Proteins: Include lean proteins to aid in muscle repair and growth. Sources like chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes are beneficial.
- Healthy fats: Incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil for overall nutrition and satiety.
- Timing: Aim to refuel within 30-60 minutes post-run when the body is most receptive to nutrient absorption. The ratio you should try to aim for is 4C:1P (1gram of protein for every 4g of carbohydrates). Some meal ideas could be: spaghetti with tuna/ chicken/ vegetable meat substitute , a sandwich with tuna/ egg/ chicken/ turkey/ vegetable meat substitute, protein shake with an added banana and oats, …
For more information about carbohydrates, proteins & fats I would recommend looking back at the chapter ‘Nutrition for trailrunners’.
Trail running can cause muscle soreness and microtears in muscle fibers. Repairing and rebuilding these tissues are essential for overall recovery and injury prevention. Consider:
- Protein intake: Adequate protein intake supports muscle repair. Incorporate proteins from various sources throughout the day, including post-run meals. Try to go for around 20-30g of proteins in every meal. This will help to optimize your recovery and also to keep you full throughout the day.
- Stretching and mobility exercises: Engage in post-run stretching and mobility exercises to improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness. (Sidenote: I am more a fan of doing these stretches before going to bed, since it will help my muscles to relax and hence I will sleep better)
- Restorative practices: Practices like yoga, foam rolling and stretching can aid in muscle recovery and relaxation, promoting overall repair. If you are training a lot, I would advise to do 1x/ month a massage sessions with a physio therapist to ensure that your muscles stay flexible.