race nutri­tion for recov­ery

Over the last few weeks we have been writ­ing about hydra­tion and nutri­tion
strategies for a multi-stage race. Today we look at how to tail­or your nutri­tion
to encour­age recov­ery.

Multi stage racing requires someone to push hard for a day and then do it
again and again. The focus needs to be provid­ing your muscles with the right
things to repair and re-syn­thes­ise gly­co­gen stores. Whilst the tim­ing chips will stop as soon as you cross each day’s fin­ish line, recov­er­ing faster than oth­er com­pet­it­ors by get­ting your post race strategy right will give you an edge.

Recov­ery is as import­ant as run­ning!

There are two import­ant tim­ing win­dows which com­pet­it­ors need to be aware
of, a short and a longer one;

1) The short phase occurs with­in the first 30 minutes post-exer­cise and is
the most import­ant peri­od for recov­ery and feel­ing good the next day.
Car­bo­hydrates should make up the bulk of this and also a good hit of
pro­tein (4:1 ration being recom­men­ded). Car­bo­hydrates, not pro­tein, are
respons­ible for replen­ish­ing gly­co­gen stores, how­ever, you will need the
pro­tein to repair any muscle dam­age. This cru­cial phase comes just
after the fin­ish line and so you might not feel like doing any­thing oth­er
than lying down. How­ever, it is vital that you use this win­dow to take
on board some cal­or­ies.

As you might not have the appet­ite nor the stom­ach for a full meal, it is best to have a snack or recov­ery shake ready to mix when you fin­ish. This should be a com­pet­it­or’s pri­or­ity upon cross­ing the fin­ish line. Some example
products which com­pet­it­ors have used in our events are; SIS Rego,
Tribe Recov­ery Shake or For Good­ness Shakes.

2) The second win­dow to be aware of lasts longer. This sub­sequent
recov­ery phase of fuel­ling lasts until you creep into your sleep­ing bag.
Whilst the focus of the first win­dow should be kick­ing off the recov­ery
pro­cess this is a time to top up the tank. Sim­il­ar to the ini­tial post-race
phase, con­sum­ing some pro­tein with car­bo­hydrate can lead to high­er
muscle gly­co­gen syn­thes­is, and it is recom­men­ded to aim for 1–1.2
grams of car­bo­hydrate per kilo­gram of body weight for each hour over
the rest of the day. This can be done in one meal or over vari­ous. This
means that com­pet­it­ors will need to con­sider how long they expect to
be out on course (and sub­sequently how much time they will be
spend­ing in the camp­site at the end of each day) to work this out.

Get­ting your post-race nutri­tion right and pri­or­it­ising it as part of your race
strategy will make day’s two to five of an Ultra X sig­ni­fic­antly easi­er. For Ultra X races you have the lux­ury of food not being lim­ited by weight restric­tions so hope­fully you will be able to top up that tank as much as pos­sible!

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