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Active Expert: Nancy Clark RD CSSD

2 Posts tagged with the long_runs tag

This is the season when folks training for the Boston Marathon start to ramp up their runs. Having just talked this morning to a Team in Training group, I know that many runners have questions about how to best recover after runs that last longer than 12 miles.  Hence,I am reposting this blog that a student of mine wrote last year at this time.


Boston Marathon Bound - Recovery foods

What to eat or drink after a long run is a hot topic among runners. What you do or don’t consume can effect how you feel later in the day, as well as at your next workout.



After a long run, your biggest priority should be to replace fluids lost from sweat. Hopefully you drank some water or sports drink on your run, but you will still need to replace some fluid. The best way to determine how much to drink is to weigh yourself before and after your run (without clothes). For every pound lost, drink at least 16 oz of water; better yet, 24 ounces. At this point, there is little need for sports drinks, as long as you’re planning to eat something shortly. Your next meal or snack will replenish the lost sodium and glucose. However, sports drinks can be a good option if your stomach isn’t ready for food. Chicken broth, cola, or gingerale are other popular options that may help settle a queasy stomach.

Remember to continue to drink fluids throughout the day to continue to stay hydrated. You can monitor your hydration by the color and amount of your urine. When properly hydrated your urine will be a pale yellow (unless you take supplements, in which case, the color may be brighter), and you will urinate every 2-3 hours.



In addition to properly hydrating, you will want to eat shortly after a long run to replenish your glycogen stores. Make sure this meal or snack is a mix of carbohydrates (to refuel) with a little protein (to repair). While many runners strive for a ratio of 4 to 1 or 3 to 1 carbohydrates to protein, the exact ratio isn’t mandatory. Just be sure you fill-up with more carbs than protein. That is, don't have just a protein shake!


Some easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

-       Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk

-       Turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit

-       Yogurt with berries and granola

-       Bowl of beany soup such a minestrone, with whole grain crackers and low fat cheese

-       Oatmeal with milk, raisins, and slivered almonds

-       Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and banana sandwich

-       Vegetable omelet with toast


If you aren’t ready for a meal after your run, make a small snack such as a glass of chocolate milk, a bowl of cereal with milk, or an apple with peanut butter.


Rapidly refueling by eating immediately after a run is most important for people who will be running again in the next 4 to 6 hours. Most of us can simply eat within an hour after running and will recover well. Yet, a benefit to eating shortly after your run is to keep the cookie monster from showing up!


Even if your stomach doesn’t feel hungry post-run, your muscles want fuel. Feed them! Signs of hunger include irritability and fatigue. Eating even just a small snack post-run and then your meal a few hours later can keep you from becoming ravenous and overeating later in the day. You will also likely feel more energized and recover faster.


Happy eating and running!


Written by guest blogger Sarah Gold.


For more information:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

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I like to stop at a convenience store during my long runs and buy a cola. Everyone else is drinking water or sports drink. They give me a hard time for drinking soda. Is there anything wrong with drinking cola on long runs?


Soda is sugar water .. . just like a sports drink. To make soda into a sports drink, dilute it in half with water and add a dash of salt (or munch on a few pretzels alongside the soda). The sodium (salt) enhances fluid retention.

Soda such as cola offers 100 calories per 8 ounces; Gatorade offers about 50 calories per 8 ounces. Both have few nutritional merits. Because a sports drink is more dilute than cola, it is easier to absorb and will empty quicker from the stomach. Hence, during intense runs, or in hot weather, when rapid fluid absorption is important, you might want to drink water alongside the cola to dilute it.


The caffeine in cola may be one reason you prefer it over a sports drink. Caffeine, particularly in combination with carbohydrates (i.e.,the sugar in soft drinks), is known to enhance performance. Although once thought to have a dehydrating effect, we now know that it not true.


   As long as the cola settles well, without creating belching or stomach aches, you have my blessing to enjoy it during extended exercise. It is just one way to consume the 200 to 300 calories from carbohydrates you need per hour of running. The cola will help you maintain high energy and enjoyment of the run.


Granted, a wholesome breakfast or healthier pre-run snack to fuel the first hour is nutritionally preferable to relying on sugar-water. But during extended exercise, sugar in any form will help keep you from hitting the wall. The guidelines are to limit your sugar intake to 10% of your calories. That's 200 to 300 sugar-calories per day .... that means, one soda during a long run is OK but four sodas for meals and snacks is another story.

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Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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