iKOR Recovery Zone
Running Season is Here: Fueling Up for a Long Run and Post-Run Anti-Inflammatory Measures
Long-distance running is a fantastic way to challenge your physical and mental limits, improve your cardiovascular health, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, it’s not just about lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement. Proper preparation and recovery are key to consistently successful training runs and races. Let’s explore the importance of fueling up before a long run and discuss post-run anti-inflammatory measures to help you optimize your performance and recovery.
Fueling Up for a Long Run
Before embarking on a long run, whether it’s a half marathon, marathon, or an ultramarathon, fueling your body properly is essential. Here’s why:
Energy Reserves: Long runs require a substantial amount of energy. Your body primarily uses glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver, as a source of energy during exercise. Eating carbohydrates before your run helps stock these glycogen stores, providing you with the necessary fuel to get the most out of each run.
Prevent Bonking: “Bonking” or “hitting the wall” is a term used by runners to describe a sudden and severe drop in energy levels during a long run. It’s often caused by depleted glycogen stores. Proper pre-run nutrition can help significantly prevent this unpleasant experience.
Reduced Muscle Breakdown: Consuming protein before a long run can help minimize muscle breakdown, particularly on your longer runs. Your body may turn to its own muscle tissue for energy if it’s not adequately fueled.
Hydration: Hydration is equally important. Dehydration often involves a loss of fluids and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Electrolytes are essential for proper muscle function, and imbalances can disrupt muscle contractions, potentially leading to cramps, fatigue, and significant decreases in performance. For shorter runs, water usually does the trick. But for longer runs, or if it’s hot out, consider a quality sports hydration product rich in electrolytes.
A good pre-run meal might consist of 50-65% carbohydrates (such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, or pasta), 15-20% lean protein (like eggs or yogurt), and 20-35% healthy fats (nuts or avocado). Be sure to consume your last full meal at least 1-3 hours before your run to allow for proper digestion, and to make sure these nutrients are available when your body needs them.
Post-Run Anti-Inflammatory Measures
After you’ve conquered your long run, it’s time to focus on recovery. A crucial aspect of this process is managing inflammation, as running can cause micro-tears in your muscles and lead to soreness. Here are some post-run anti-inflammatory measures:
Cool Down and Stretch: After finishing your run, don’t stop abruptly. Gradually decrease your pace to cool down, perhaps walking for a few minutes before you stop. Follow this with gentle stretching to prevent muscle tightness. Not too hard! Be nice to yourself.
Hydration: Rehydrate with water or a sports drink to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Proper post-run hydration aids in flushing out toxins that can contribute to inflammation and discomfort.
Nutrition: Consume a balanced meal or snack within an hour after your run. Include both carbohydrates and protein to replenish glycogen stores and support muscle repair.
Ice Baths or Cold Compressions: Some runners find relief from muscle soreness by taking ice baths or using cold compressions on sore areas. This can help reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Incorporate foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties into your diet. These include berries, leafy greens, fatty fish (like salmon), turmeric, and a variety of formulated supplements designed to support recovery from excessive inflammation.
Foam Rolling: Using a foam roller can help alleviate muscle tightness and reduce inflammation by promoting blood flow to affected areas. By applying pressure to specific areas, foam rolling can increase blood flow, promote the release of muscle knots, and enhance flexibility. It’s like giving your muscles a deep tissue massage, aiding in the repair and relaxation of overworked tissues.
Professional Help: Consider consulting with a sports therapist or physiotherapist for techniques like massage or aided stretches and reduce inflammation and dramatically speed recovery times.
Rest Days: Don’t underestimate the power of a rest day! Rest days between intense workouts are essential for full recovery and preventing chronic inflammation and injury. If you do not feel well-rested, then you’re probably not fully recovered. Seems simple, but we tend to want to push through, which can cause fatigue and injuries. Better to be a bit over-rested than over-trained.
Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is by far the single most important thing you can do for athletic recovery. We all vary on the ideal amount of sleep that is required to recover, so listen to your body (and/or a wearable device), learn what’s needed for you, and try to consistently get that amount. It will show in your performance.
In the world of distance running, preparation and recovery are the unsung heroes that can make or break your performance. As you lace up your running shoes and set out to challenge yourself, remember that what you do before and after those long runs is just as crucial as the strides you take during them.
Fueling your body properly before a long run is the first step to ensuring a successful outing. Your body is like a well-tuned machine, and it needs the right fuel to perform optimally. Carbohydrates replenish your energy stores, protein helps minimize muscle breakdown, and hydration keeps you going strong. By prioritizing pre-run nutrition, you can avoid the dreaded “bonk” and enhance your overall performance.
But it doesn’t end there. The post-run period is just as vital. Long runs can leave your muscles with micro-tears and your body inflamed, leading to soreness and fatigue. This is where anti-inflammatory measures come into play. A proper cool-down and stretching routine can keep muscle tightness at bay, while hydration and nutrition help your body recover and repair. Ice baths, rest, and even professional assistance can be your allies in the battle against post-run inflammation.
By taking care of your body through proper nutrition and recovery strategies, you can optimize your performance, prevent injuries, and continue to enjoy the benefits of long-distance running for years to come. Remember, a well-fueled and well-cared-for body is a runner’s best asset!
Manage Inflammation After Every Workout
Powerful Natural Formulation
*Discount applied in shopping cart. Does not apply to subscription orders.
Disclaimer: Supplements are great tools to help aid in decreasing daily stress and anxiety. It’s important to stay active and get outside when possible as it helps release endorphins. Many of the things listed above are great tools to incorporate into your daily routine. Human connections are also key. Should you not be able to hang out with friends during these times, reach out, call, video chat, etc. We’re all in this together and helping motivate each other is a great way to keep moving forward.