Dealing with ITBS and RWI

I’ve been found guilty of a RWI, but I can’t imagine I’m the only one. That’s right: I’ve been “Running While Injured”.  :/

For over a month now, I’ve been dealing with some knee pain, but the pain isn’t always there. When I wake up, it’s fine. When I walk, it’s fine. When I bike, it’s fine. When I run, it’s not fine. So have I not run since I first felt the injury? I wish I could tell you that I’m always disciplined enough to back off of running completely when I’m dealing with an injury, but in this case, that was not the case.

I wasn’t running every day with this injury, but I definitely wanted to find out what it was, if I was going to be sidelined for a while, and how I needed to manage my recovery. After the first couple of times, the knee pain would set in after 5 miles or so of running and would render my last 2-3 miles a slower, wobbly experience of the poorest running mechanics I could unintentionally muster. So many things to address here…First, I learned that it wasn’t inflammation or bursitis as I thought it could be. It was a condition that I hadn’t dealt with since my sophomore year in high school: Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS isn’t a fun condition to be sidelined with, but it’s also one of the best injuries to face as it is not that difficult to fix. Continuing to run while dealing with ITBS, however, is not one of the ways to fix this issue which brings me to my next “thing to address” and the main topic of this post: Running while injured.

rwi5Image: Athletico.com

There are some injuries that just don’t let you run and there are some injuries that, depending on the severity, may still allow you to run, but prevent you from continuing to train. If you are dealing with plantar fasciitis, bursitis, or ITBS, you might still be able to log some miles, but I doubt you would feel that the quality of these miles match what you were achieving before the onset of the injury. So if you are logging miles, but not able to mix up your training or increase the intensity at times, are you still training? What’s worse, those miles you are logging might be worsening your condition. I was en route to this being my situation.

rwi3 rwi4

I have run about 6 times or so since a run mid-November when the pain from ITBS caused me to have to walk some of my miles just to get home. One of those runs, a 6.5 miler, was done on snow-covered trails and the blanket of snow provided a layer of soft ground that prevented an ITB flare-up. I had read about the impact of running being a cause for flare-ups in addition to running downhill, but this was the first time I was able to get in a run on soft enough ground where I didn’t feel any pain; regular, non-snowy trails still resulted in flare-ups. So when I arrived in New Jersey, I decided to test out the IT band on a route that had as much grass as possible. I managed to get in 5 miles before the flare-up occurred, but I needed to get home so I slowed down to 8 minutes for the remaining 2 miles to get home without too much regret. I haven’t run since, but have biked and continued my stretching routines and I’ll probably head out and test it again sometime next week.

rwi2 The New Jersey 7-mile run allowed me to feel mentally better than I have in a while, but that massage stick was my best friend for the next two days.

But what caused this ITBS problem to begin with? My educated guess: repetitive speed training. Was this intentional? Not at all. In retrospect, being in a Masters Degree in Nutrition program seemed to have messed with my approach to training and certainly the time I have for runs so I was treating every day as a speed day just to fit in 10 or 15 mile runs. Not good, I know, as this and not stretching after these repetitive training runs is what I firmly believe has led to my current bout of ITBS.

But here’s the good news: I drove to the local track today and logged 3 miles in 21 minutes without any pain. I guess my active recovery training over the past few weeks as been helping.

Regarding Recovery

Proper active recovery is key when it comes to fixing ITBS issues and helping you get out on the road or trails sooner rather than later. See, with a running injury, sometimes complete rest is not the best way to recover. Recovery, in a way, is its own training. There are certain activities and stretches to be done, certain activities to avoid, and even proper nutrition that can help with recovery depending on the injury. (For stretches that I used, see the video at the end of this post.)

In my case with ITBS…

Activities to include:

  • Certain stretches such as stretching my hips–tight and weak hips can result in ITBS.
  • Exercises such as isometrics.
  • I’ve also included biking to avoid losing too much fitness and to continue some general healthy cardiovascular exercise as well.
  • Strength training and squats to strengthen muscles that may have been too tight or weak, leading to my IT band issue.

Activities to avoid :

  • Running too soon; before really giving your stretches and exercises time to work may be defined as “too soon”
  • Certain types of running; I can forget about speed training and hill repeats until I’m recovered.

rwi6

Dealing with ITBS at the end the year has been kind of a blessing. I’ve been forced to pay more attention to my body and stretching which is ever-important and probably the only thing I preach, but practice poorly. Well, my Running 2017 NY Resolution is just that: to pay attention to stretching before and after my runs.

ITBS has also allowed me to use the winter break to relax and fully recover, mentally and physically, from the year. I’ve been planning my 2017 racing schedule and I’m taking my recovery seriously so that I can return healthy and ready to hit the trails and roads for marathon and ultramarathon training. Current races that I’m looking at for 2017 will be a blog post coming soon so check back for that!

Happy Running and Happy New Year!

I hope 2016 was good to all of you and I hope 2017 will only be better!

This video below is what I used to figure out what stretches I need to be doing. Thanks Physical Therapy!

 

 

Advertisements

Injured, but staying positive.

You read that right. I’m injured. This is actually the reason I didn’t publish a blog post at all last week…I just had no desire write about eating healthy or being active as I wanted to eat whatever I wanted and I could’t run so writing bout running and exercising proved too difficult to be motivated to do.

So what happened? Glass…Glass happened. That’s right. No straining of a muscle. No tripping and falling and getting banged up. No stress fracture from my marathon training. Glass. Specifically, a broken bottle on the side of the road that decided to not get out of my way as I just finished mile 1 of my goal 10 miles for last Tuesday. Tuesday has been Tuesday-Ten Day for me lately and I was so looking forward to this run. It was a beautiful day too and I was feeling so, so good. I had just heard the faint ding-ding of my Garmin go off just 30 seconds prior to…the incident…and I had my eyes on the construction happening on the building that Under Armour has decided to move into here in Portland (that means Adidas, Nike, and UA will all have a strong presence here in PDX). Then, instantaneous pain.

6 Sorry for the graphic, but that’s what I’m dealing with. It’s the spot of the wound that is killer, because I literally haven’t been able to step down with any pressure until just yesterday (4 days after the injury). 

I’m still amazed by how quickly my body reacted to having stepped on the broken bottle, which prevented a much, much worse puncture wound. But there was nothing I could have done to prevent the puncture that already occurred and so the only thing to do was to heal…to recover. And while I accepted that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the injury, I still allowed myself to internally mope about it.

3 All swolled up.

The timing wasn’t great: At the time, I was  1 1/2 weeks away from my first trail marathon and approaching my middle phase of training for the Vernonia Marathon in April where I hope to qualify once again for Boston. I am still healing which is going very well (being engaged to a naturopathic medical school student has its perks), but while I haven’t been able to run yet, I have been able to stay in a good state mentally and to reduce too much fitness loss by getting on Val’s bike trainer as often as I can.

20 Watching some Sage Canaday vids on YouTube while I cycle.

Being injured has been downright annoying and sucky, but I’m so grateful that it wasn’t worse as most injuries that occur on a run generally sideline a runner for weeks if not longer. I am hoping that I can be back to running–heck I’ll take speedwalking–within a few more days. I know I’m going to be even more ready to get back out there as my  first stint as a head coach for a high school track team starts this week and I couldn’t be more excited (and slightly unprepared!).

I’m also excited to resume training for these marathons on my calendar as well as the ultramarathons I want to run after April 10th comes and goes. One of which is a race I ran last year and just missed winning by 30 seconds or so: the Pick Your Poison race by Go Beyond Racing.

pyp5 pyp3                                        VegStrong RunLong!

I chose that race to be my first 12 hour timed ultra and I had a blast! Henry Hagg Lake is incredibly beautiful; the organization of the race was excellent; the volunteers were outstanding; and my overall experience was a very positive one. I’m hopeful to race it again this summer and to get redemption at the 12 hour solo road option. The 24 hour option, the trail or road option, as well as the option to run the race on a relay team means that this race offers a little bit of something for everyone! You really do have quite the pick of your poison. Let me know if you plan on running! I’d love to see you out there!

pyp2 pyp4                                My best support system.

Being injured didn’t render me in a corner feeling sorry for myself; I was still out and about…

2

Val and I had free tickets to the Portland Trailblazers game the evening I got injured. The plan was to get a great 10 miler in and go enjoy myself at the game…none of that happened, but I at least tried to enjoy the game. It was my first Blazers game, so that wa cool.

14 I couldn’t work the next day and I couldn’t run so the only way to turn my frown upside down was to treat myself to a lunch and some reading. I drove and hobbled over to Paradox Cafe for a delicious veggie burger and some of their house potatoes. #nomnom.

13  15

I did go into work two days after the injury occurred and I’m glad I did. 1) The school let me use a set of crutches to get around and 2) I was a mile away from Back to Eden’s SE Portland location. Normally I would have eaten my lunch and been completely satisfied, especially after having gone to Paradox the previous day, but it was 65 degrees and sunny and I would have been crazy to not have gotten some of their delicious dairy-free soft serve.

bw  Three days out and I can hobble just a bit better. Val had a black-tie fundraiser event at her school (National College of Natural Medicine) so we classed it up and enjoyed a Friday night out with friends.

2 23

7 Saturday night we said, “Safe travels” to our friend, Kelsey, and I think the vegan taco night and the desserts at Portobello got to us a bit. Annette decided to turn my fiancee into…something else. At least they had fun! And now we have just another reason to head to Colorado sooner!

And that brings me to today (Sunday is when I’m writing this). Val and I slept in, then I hopped on the bike trainer for a little over an hour until we went upstairs to babysit for our neighbors. Carrie, the metaphorical pen and literal mind behind OurStableTable.com, and her husband Lance treated us to the most delicious gluten free and vegan blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. Not kidding.

2  3

I’ll just end it here and once again, because I can: #nomnom.

Hoping for a continued speedy recovery and getting back to training!

Happy (and safe) running everybody!

 

 

Recovering from the Marathon and Bouncing Back for 5ks

So I’m really excited to write this post. Really excited.

It’s been 1 week since I qualified for Boston with a 3:04:10. It’s likely I won’t actually meet the cutoff time to register for the most renowned marathon in the world, BUT…I got the BQ. I guess the old saying is right: Third time’s a charm (the Portland Marathon was my 4th marathon, but only my 3rd time going after a BQ).

20

Val rarely misses a race. She’s definitely my biggest supporter.

I knew before marathon day that I would need to really focus on recovery immediately after the race. It was highly likely that a local food bar company, Betsy’s Best bar none (B3N), was going to be sponsoring an upcoming race and I had a feeling it was going to be really soon. Turns out I was right. They decided to sponsor two races and the first, the Race for the Rescues, was yesterday. I opted for the 5k distance as there was no way I was going to push my body to race a 10k only a week after giving the 26.2 everything I had. So with a 5k to get my body ready to race, proper and speedy recovery was absolutely necessary.

I’ve never had to actually try to recover. What I mean is, I’ve only just let recovery happen naturally. Typical stuff: sleep more, rest more, run a bit less, eat well, etc. But with just less than 7 days to bounce back, I needed to be much more active in my recovery approach. Below are sectioned details of how I consciously sped up my recovery in order to race a 5k one week after a personal best and Boston qualifying marathon time. I was hoping for my fastest 5k time (previous PR set back in 2012: 17:50), and despite some confusion and running off-course and through dirt, I was able to achieve that in what was approximately 17:04.

11  13

And they’re off! Sporting Betsy’s Best bar none who sponsored me for the Race for the Rescues 5k. 

Nutrition during the week: I didn’t set out to eat more calories and I didn’t set out eat less calories. Instead, I ate every calorie with a purpose. Granted, I may have eaten more calories but as I don’t count my calorie intake, I have no way of knowing for sure and, in any case, I didn’t plan to do so. I knew that hydration was something I really needed to focus on so I increased my water intake by quite a lot. As you lose electrolytes every time you pee, I knew I had to make sure that I took in more electrolytes than usual. For this I looked to extra bananas (3 a day at least; a couple of days I had 5) and I also added salt–for sodium, which is the electrolyte that is most lost when you work out and sweat–to my breakfast oatmeal and my dinners. I ate a very good amount of starchy carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal or muesli (every day for breakfast), pasta, and potatoes to restock my glycogen stores. Lastly, I made sure I had protein at every meal. In the morning, I added cacao powder, flax seeds, and chia seeds to my oatmeal. For lunch, I brought along a Nii bar to ensure some protein intake although I eat nearly entirely fruits and veggies at lunch (apple, bananas, carrots, spinach, celery). And for dinner it was a mix of lentils, quinoa, and soy (tofu or tempeh) with veggies and a starchy carb.

19  16

11

16  8

Peanut butter chocolate-chip toast and chocolate chip pancakes…Carbs right? 

I was very conscious of my nutrition this past week and was overly set on eating mindfully to ensure I was taking care of what my body needed to recover well.

Running: I knew I needed at least a couple of days of complete rest. I could have perhaps got a couple of miles in on Tuesday but I decided to give it another day just in case. As you will be able to see, I eased into running again with an easy 2 miler and since I felt good, I decided to run another 4 later after work. Thursday’s and Friday’s runs were really able to get the movement back into my legs. I didn’t test speed until Friday’s 5.5 miler, when I decided include a two miles between 6:28 and 6:35 pace to get some decent speed and turnover back into my legs. I was careful not to overdo any of the running and took a complete rest day Saturday to let my legs rest up for the 5k.

Sunday: Marathon

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 2mi AM run (easy pace); 4mi PM run (7:34/mi avg.)

Thursday: 5mi easy pace

Friday: 5.5mi (6:58 avg.)

Saturday: Rest day (aside from stretching my legs with some dynamic stretching and light jogging < quarter mile)

Sunday: 5k (17:04 watch time)

12

A huge majority of the people at the race ran with their dogs. It was so cool to see so many fit four legged friends out on the course! 

b3n2

Betsy’s Best bar none is a super tasty food bar unlike any other food bar I’ve had before. They have unique flavors such as chili chocolate chip (pictured; talk about a kick!), savory rosemary, and orange poppyseed. Their peppermint chocolate chip and chili chocolate chip have to be my favorite though. They’re Portland-made so I love that I can support a local business and fuel with their product as well. Vegan, soy-free, gluten free, organic…it goes on and one with B3N.

Sleep: Another important part of recovery is sleep. I didn’t increase the amount of hours I slept, but I never felt any kind of fatigue that was unusual. I sleep and slept anywhere from 6 – 7.5 hours.

So that’s how my recovery has been. I’d like to say that I’m completely recovered, but there is not way that is possible only a week from a marathon race. Even though I had a great 5k race yesterday and am not sore or feeling sluggish in anyway, I know I need to still think “recovery” for this week. As I have another race this coming Sunday with Betsy’s Best as my sponsor, I’ll be tip-top with my nutrition, stretching, and running just enough and nothing extra to ensure a healthy race.

Question time: How do you recover from your races? What does the following look like for you: nutrition, running, rest, stretching, sleep, etc.? What’s the shortest or longest amount of time it took you to recover from a race or hard workout and what was the distance or workout? I’d love to chat about these topics and any other comments or questions you have!

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who has been racing this fall season, especially to those tackling racing and/or new distances for the first time! 

Where I Get My Protein

Protein. It is one of the words that gets thrown around in food and diet-talk often, and rightly so. Protein is absolutely essential for the body to function properly and it is even more important for those who run or exercise. Among many functions of protein, this macronutrient is vital for repairing damaged muscle tissue that occurs throughout the day, but especially during exercise. Low protein intake will lead to many health issues, but it will also seriously increase your risk of injury.

One of the questions Val and I got asked the most when we changed our diet and began a new chapter in our life was the one most plant-based consumers get asked: How do you get your proteinIf you eat a plant-based diet or a meat-free diet, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If I were to ask that same question to someone who ate animal products, they would likely explain that they get their protein from meat. They wouldn’t be wrong. They would just be missing a few sources of protein in their response.

What many people don’t know is that protein is not just found in the meat or eggs that they eat. Sure, Rocky didn’t help clear this up when he was chugging down glasses of raw eggs for building muscle (or rather, for the protein to allow muscle to be built), but it is true nonetheless. People can get protein from so many sources that are often not thought about and are sometimes even surprising.

As I start to wind down my marathon training and well over 4 months and 1,100+ miles of training and racing, I decided to dedicate this post to discussing how I’ve kept (and keep) my muscles healthy and repaired so that I can get out and own the day with my next run.

BEANS 

Kidney, black, pinto…I’ll eat them all. A cup of most beans has about 15g of protein. That’s a lot of protein. It’s also a lot of beans for one person, but even if you half that, that’s a great amount of protein to be including in your dinner and what’s great about adding beans to your plate is that the fiber in them will keep you full longer. It will also lead to other stuff happening, but we won’t go there.

109

Low in sugar, high in fiber, high in protein…awesome food. I won’t “highlight” no fat because I like fat. And you should too.

LEGUMES

This is a bit confusing because beans are legumes, but I am referring to three specific types of legumes in this section. The three are chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. I eat these three foods every week in some way, shape, or form.

Chickpeas are a phenomenal source of protein with over 35g in 1 cup. I eat a serving of chickpeas whole or as hummus several days a week. Chickpeas added to a veggie stir fry is delicious, but even eating them by themselves with your favorite condiment if you prefer would be a great way to get a ton of protein in your diet.

I cook lentils at least twice a week and spice it up with curry, turmeric, and cayenne pepper for an extra kick and for their awesome properties that lower inflammation. Lentils are also a great source of protein with about 18g in a cup.

7

I never had lentils or knew what they were until I met Val. I must have had them at her family’s for dinner one night, and I’ve been hooked ever since. They’re a staple in our kitchen. 

And my favorite, those-are-legumes? legumes are peanuts. I eat peanuts mostly as peanut butter, but I love them whole as well. Over 35g in 1 cup of raw peanuts.

carrot and pbpbscaled

SOY FOODS

Tofu has over 10g of protein and is a food that Val and I eat very, very often. We buy it organic to help out with all the issues surrounding tofu. Boiled soybeans or edamame have over 20g of protein per cup and while I don’t eat soybeans too often, every bite reminds me of why I bought them in the first place. Tempeh is another incredible source of protein with over 30g in 1 cup. It’s got a grainy texture so it makes it a very good meat replacer for vegetarians and vegans. Follow the link for some great recipes for using tempeh.

DARK LEAFY GREENS

I rather call these veggies Dark Leafies. It’ll catch on. They don’t have as much protein as beans or legumes, but they have a good enough amount that should definitely be considered. Spinach (about 5g in 1 cup), kale (about 3g in 1 cup), brussel sprouts (about 3g in 1 cup), broccoli (about 2.5 in 1 cup) are all excellent sources of protein.

ENERGY/NUTRITION BARS

I eat so many bars it’s almost ridiculous. I love their convenience. Would I minimize nutrition bars if I could? Yes. But I’m on a budget and they are delicious, so I’m inclined to keep at it. Most bars I enjoy have at least 10g of protein in it with some (Clif Builders) being as high as 20g of protein. There aren’t many vegan bars that offer more grams of protein than that.

barbars-go-macro

Evo HempGoMacro, Skout, and Tahoe Trail Bars are some of my favorite bars for protein, taste, and other reasons.

NONDAIRY MILKS

My favorite nondairy milk is soy milk. Val prefers almond milk, so you can guess which one we buy more often. Right. Almond. I wish it was soy though because soy milks have way more protein that almond milk in the same serving size (8g in a cup). I don’t drink milk unless we just baked cookies or some other baked good, but we consume it every day in our coffee, oatmeal, and blends.

NUTS, SEEDS & NUT BUTTERS

Sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and flax are all the seeds I eat more often. I always mix a teaspoon of chia or flax seeds in my yogurts and oatmeals for the added fats, proteins, and other nutritional benefits. I love almonds (my fave), cashews, and pecans, but I try not to buy raw whole nuts for two reasons: they’re not cheap (on a budget, people), and what I buy to last a week, I’ll eat in 2 days…No bueno.

13

Go Raw  Sprouted Watermelon Seeds are bomb. As in Bomb.com bomb. That means: really freakin’ good. I wrote in a previous post that they were one of the foods I couldn’t help but continue snacking on after my kitchen should have been closed for the night. Go Raw has a bunch of other seed products also worthy of trying out!

1211

That’s 10g of protein in probably a couple handfuls of watermelon seeds. High in fat? Sure. But again. I like fat. And so should you.

QUINOA

Technically a seed and not a grain, quinoa is my favorite “grainy” option. A great source of potassium, magnesium, and protein (8g per cup), this seed is definitely a superfood for runners. If you don’t know when or how to eat quinoa, I suggest start by using it how you would rice, but there is plenty more you can do.

8

I know this is a long post, but I wanted to really share with you just some of the other sources you can get protein and ones that I rely on. I used 1 cup as the only serving size, just because it is easier to visualize in my opinion. I wouldn’t eat 1 cup of most of these foods in a single sitting, but you should still get the idea of why, as a runner, I eat these foods often.

I try to take care of my body with ample amounts of plant-based protein from diverse sources and I’ve had the good fortune of not being injured within the past 3 years, though this time range can probably be extended beyond 3 years. So next time you are asked where you get your protein or the next time you ask someone else, I hope you’re asking with the new knowledge that protein is found in so many other sources than just animal foods.

Question time: Do you include protein in most meals, including snacks? Do you count your intake of protein or just wing it? Have you experienced an injury recently and perhaps know you have a low protein intake (I will certainly not diagnose your injury or attribute it to any cause, but curiosity does lead me to ask this question)?  Let’s talk in the comments!

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Recovery!

Fall is around the corner, and, for some of you, that means marathon or half-marathon time. This message will be of extra help for those with a big star or circle on their calendars, marking race day, but it will also be of use for anyone who exercises.

I’ll be running this one on the first Sunday of October. So excited!

Part of what being a healthy runner is being able to continue to run. This means reducing your risk of injuries and keeping your body healthy. If I left the topic of this post to just “proper recovery,” you’d have just begun reading a book and will likely not return to my blog. Let’s be real: Who wants to read a book, so pulls up a blog site? So the scope, then, is boosting muscle recovery so that you can go out the next day or the day after without feeling as sore and with confidence that you put in a little extra effort to keep your muscles healthy. These tips aren’t ways to completely heal your slightly torn muscle tissue within one day. Plus, running on slightly stressed muscles is good for building fitness and stamina, but these tips will help ensure you are reducing your risk of injury.

So below are some top ways I speed up my recovery. I think they’re easy to remember and simple to achieve as well. I’d love to hear how you recover or maybe how certain efforts you’ve put forth didn’t bear any effects that you noticed. Let’s talk via Comments!

5 WAYS TO SPEED UP YOUR RECOVERY (in no particular order)

   B-VITAMINS 

The body needs energy to do work. That’s just science. And while vitamins are not a source of energy, they do assist in energy production. By making sure you are taking in the vitamins your body needs is going to allow you to not just recover well, but to get out and exercise in the first place. Specifically though, B vitamins need to be on this list.

The vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) are especially important for breaking down your body’s carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to be used as energy. Vitamins B12, B6 and B2 (aka riboflavin), are especially helpful in the production of red blood cells which are vitally important for oxygen transportation (something your muscles can’t do without).

Displaying IMG_2221.JPG

Val and I take supplements due to our plant-based diet.

If you eat a whole foods, well-varied diet then your levels of B vitamins should be fine. Whole grains, nuts, dark, leafy greens are all great sources of these vitamins. B6 is found in beans, some vegetables and fruits, such as dark leafy greens, bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe. B12 is found mostly in animal products so it is difficult for people who eat a plant-based diet to get an adequate amount of. For B12, nutritional yeast, miso, seaweed, and fortified nondairy milks are your best food sources, but a B12 supplement is likely necessary for optimal health.

 (RE)HYDRATE

If you just finished a hard run or workout, even if it was cool outside and didn’t sweat much, you should begin re-hydrating as soon as you are done the activity. A prolonged workout means you lost a good amount of water and essential electrolytes that your body and muscles need. I like re-hydrating with an ice cold coconut water for the potassium, sodium, and natural sugar for added carbohydrates, but drinking 12-16 ounces once you are stretched, rolled, and settled is fine too. Remember to keep hydrating throughout the day if you want to avoid those leg cramps the next day! 

 THE 30MINUTE WINDOW

Restoring your glycogen (what stores carbohydrates) is important after a run…like, immediately after. Okay, not quite immediately. But there is more-than sufficient evidence out there that confirm a 30 minute window that exists after arduous activity. This window is ideal for your body to take and absorb most of the nutrients you feed it. So while you should be eating well all the time anyway, the post-run food will be what your body immediately starts to use to replace what you’ve lost/used up during your workout.  Another window does exist 1-3 hours after you complete your prolonged run or workout, but who knows what you have planned during that time or if you are a napper, you may even sleep through it.

Certain foods are certainly better than others during this window. Eating leftover french fries or pizza after your run probably isn’t the best route, despite the plenty of carbohydrates in each of those options. Ideally, your small meal has a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrates to protein. The carbohydrates are to replenish what you burned up and the protein is both for muscle recovery and for better absorption of the carbohydrate.

What does a 3:1 or 4:1 look like?

 Displaying IMG_2216.JPG

A banana and peanut butter (1-2 tbs) is a good option and my favorite. An apple would be good, too!

Displaying IMG_2220.JPG

Oatmeal or nondairy yogurt (pictures above with raw granola) are also common choices, but what about the protein?

Displaying IMG_2223.JPG    Displaying IMG_2226.JPG

As you can see, the ratio of carbs (22g) to protein (2g) in this 6oz coconut milk yogurt is 11:1. Not nearly enough protein by itself. So I add protein from some of the sources as seen above, or peanut butter for a more tasty option.

 ROLLING   Displaying IMG_2268.JPG

If you can afford a massage after your really hard runs and races, go for it. But for those of you who can’t spend the time or the money, a rolling tool is a great investment. It doesn’t always feel great. But then again, “No pain, no gain,” right?

Foam rolling or any other method of applying pressure to key stressed parts of your body is a great way to break up muscle knots that stretching can’t help. This knot-breaking allows for normal blood flow which is essential in recovery and exercise.

If you don’t own a foam roller or a stick roller (the skinny one above) that’s okay. I tell my track athletes that an aluminum/glass water bottle, a lacrosse/tennis ball, or something similar will usually do the trick, especially for smaller areas such as your feet or areas of your back.

 FIGHT THE INFLAMMATION

A bit of inflammation is fine; it actually helps to let the body reduce the inflammation naturally. So that means you may want to put down that ibuprofen next time you have a bit of aching in your legs, arms, or back.

Instead, introduce more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet that will reduce the swelling caused by the tiny injuries (this is what inflammation is/comes from) from working out and damaging muscle tissue. Great foods and spices to target inflammation (and have tons of other benefits) are garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, berries (antioxidants), dark leafy greens, and whole grains. Another way to reduce inflammation is to cut back on your intake of sugar, and not just cookies and chocolate. A diet of excess simple carbohydrates (pizza, pasta, white rice, cereal, etc.) slows the body’s ability to handle inflammation as the excess simple carbs (sugars) messes with you glucose-insulin process.