Post-race nutrition: replenish, rebuild, rehydrate

The year was 2010. The date was October 10.

It was the Portland Marathon, my first marathon.

I had just crossed the finish line. And after more than 4 hours of alternating between sucking back GU gels and sipping a lemon-lime electrolyte drink, the last thing my belly wanted was food.

The thought of a banana roiled my stomach.

The thought of breads, pretzels, cookies, candy turned my face green.

Pretty much anything presented on the post-marathon food table had feelings of retch creeping up into my esophagus.

I grabbed a Greek yogurt cup; no joke it took me 3 hours to get it all down!

How many of you have been in this situation?

I’m betting quite a few.

It’s a common one.

The high consumption of fast-acting sugars during an endurance race, and the constant up and down force that our stomachs endure, especially in those long-distance runs and races, can cause some of us to suffer HUGE amounts of stomach upset during and after.

And that’s a bit of a catch-22 situation for us, isn’t it.

We can’t eat a bite, but we need to!

We need carbohydrates to replenish our glycogen stores.

We need protein to rebuild our strained muscles.

We need water and other such liquids to rehydrate all that we’ve sweated out.

But what the heck do we do when we can’t stomach a thing?

Dear friends, embrace the liquids!

It took me awhile – a long while – to figure this all out. I’m not much for liquid foods at the best of times; I prefer my foods whole more than anything. But, dire times call for dire measures.

And for me, that’s a smoothie.

My post-race smoothie is no fancy smoothie.

It doesn’t have a million “super food” or so-called “healthy” ingredients. It doesn’t have sweeteners. It doesn’t have powders. It only has 4 ingredients, but every one of them serves a purpose:

  1. Raspberries and mango = refuel
  2. Greek yogurt = rebuild
  3. Water = rehydrate
  4. Avocado = because I just plum love avocado 😀
30g carbohydrates, 10 g fibre, 6 g protein, and a whole lot of water!

The rule of thumb for post-race nutrition (for events greater than 75 minutes) is 1-1.2 g/kg (medium to high glycemic) carbohydrates + 15-25 g protein within 30-60 minutes post exercise.

That’s the rule of thumb, BUT if you’re like me and you can’t suck back a thing, honestly anything is better than nothing.

So, my smoothie:

I pulse ½ cup frozen raspberries with a ¼ cup mango, 1/8 – ¼ cup avocado, a large spoon dollop of Greek yogurt and a ¾ – 1 cup of water.

If I’m running shorter distances, I don’t water it down as much, but for race day the watered down version is the only way my stomach will tolerate.

And then, all you need after that is a cheer squad to hold on to it for you until you cross the finish line and suck it back like the true champion you are 😀

Screen Shot 2019-12-15 at 6.05.07 PM
Those peeps there were part of my cheer squad for my first, rainy, marathon adventure! 

Like I said, this smoothie isn’t fancy. The biggest thing for me is the ease of the liquids. By watering it down, I’m able to consume the carbohydrates, protein and hydration my body desperately needs after a hard, endurance exertion that I wasn’t previously able to.

So, what’s your go-to post-race nutrition strategy?

If you’d like to read about my first marathon journey (it’s quite the story), check out the links:

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