BECAUSE I RAN THE BRIGHTON MARATHON, BABY.
It took me 4 hours, 56 minutes and 41 seconds. Not enviable, but I finished, and I finished running. And I’m going to do it again next year. Faster. Thank you to everyone who believed in and supported me with love and donations, you are all awesome.
I currently have the body of a 90-year-old. Stairs are my nemesis. But I feel amazing. Everyone should run a marathon, seriously.
So you know that post-workout feeling. Exhausted. Hot. Sweaty. Your legs feel like jelly, your hands are shaking like milk and all you can think about is getting that clammy running kit off and some good hydration and nutrition in.
…at least this is what exercise does to me.
Needless to say, a lot of energy is spent during cardiovascular exercise, which, if you’re training for fitness and endurance, needs to be replaced as quickly as possible after a workout to re-stock your glycogen levels and enable muscle repair.
To replenish your glycogen stores after a heavy workout (to avoid post-run head-rushes, headaches and lethargy) you need something with a high glycemic index. High GI foods – things like refined grains and sweets (see this post for more info) – are usually the ones to be avoided, as their quick sugar-release is more readily stored as fat if munched mindlessly. But in this instance, they are allowed, nay, encouraged, shock horror, because your body will be in desperate need of some energy !
In terms of GI, foods are allocated a sort of rating on a scale between 1 and 100 according to how quickly their carbohydrate energy is released into your system – the higher the number, the higher the glycemic index and the faster its energy is released when you eat them. Some exercise plans tell you to eat high GI foods post-workout such as jelly beans (80), sports drink (90 – 100), and white bread (70), but all of these make me feel sick and I prefer a more natural fix such as an over-ripe banana (50-70 depending on ripeness), a few slices of watermelon (80), or medjool dates (60) (which, if you’ve never eaten them, are DIVINE and I cannot get enough of them at the moment. The thought of them fuels my running).
(Find the GI numbers of your favourite foods here.)
Fruits or vegetables are important after a run, and not just to replace carbs. Along with the water you lose as you sweat, you also lose minerals, which you can find in fruit and veg. I also use these fizzy mineral replacement tabs dissolved in about a pint of water which have no calories, only super-hydration.
You also need protein to repair your muscles and help them to retain the strength you build into them by training. Yoghurt, peanut butter and milk are examples of quick protein fixes (ie. you don’t have to cook them). You see, after you finish training, you have a 15 minute window in which consuming these kinds of things is most beneficial for workout recovery – its when your body needs them most. But who can cook a meal in under 15 minutes after a 16 mile run ? As I said, I can barely spread peanut butter on a bagel.
So I decided that something easily made, consumed and digested was the way forward.
AND THUS WAS BORN THE MOST WONDROUS AND DELICIOUS SMOOTHIE THAT EVER EXISTED.
Okay, so I didn’t invent this, I’m sure. But you won’t care once you taste it.
Half a banana (I’ve usually eaten the other half before the run) – for carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals such as potassium
3 medjool dates, chopped and pitted – high GI for quick sugar release
150ml of milk – for protein
A tablespoon of peanut butter – for protein, carbohydrate and a little salt – OR a few tablespoons of chocolate-flavoured yoghurt
Blend all ingredients.
Recover like a boss and be the sexiest mo-fo’ on the mo-f’in’ beach.
Another taste sensation across which I stumbled during my treacherous training regime is:
No-bake Vegan Oat Energy Bars
Get: 5 tablespoons of oats
3 tablespoons seed/dried fruit mix
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
Mix all ingredients together until all combined. If the mixture is too dry and isn’t sticking, add more honey/agave.
Pack tightly into some kind of dish lined with baking paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
These are great for protein, but as honey and especially agave nectar are in fact low GI, eat it along with 2 or 3 dates or a slice of watermelon if you’re consuming post-workout. The slow-release energy in every ingredient makes them a perfect pre-run snack.
And some more ideas…
Peanut butter and sliced banana on wholewheat toast
Tuna on rice-cakes
To put it simply, think protein and sugar. Bam.