The 30 to 60 minutes after an athlete finishes a course are really important, and many athletes actually feel ill at that point.
When taking care of your athletes, I often give them information before I start trying to shove nutrition down their throat. When I know that we are on our second to the last stop of the day, I traditionally remind people that we will have a recovery tool available for them to eat at the very end and that it’s important for them to try to eat it, even if they are not feeling particularly great.
It is the carbohydrate and protein combination that is truly the elixir of rapid recovery.
Even a small amount of carbohydrates will aid their ability to recover immensely. The rules are fairly easy, you’re going to want about a gram of carbs per 2 pounds of body weight.
The addition of protein will really allow those muscles to start healing. An athlete can take in anywhere from 10 to 20 g of protein at the end of their event.
This is absolutely not the time that you want to try to give them something fatty. The body will not know what to do with that and it can actually make them feel sick.
The fastest way to get all of that in is as simple as a glass of skim milk. My secret weapon is to house a delicious smoothie in the coolers.
They don’t need to slam that beverage, they can just take a cup and sip on it slowly. If they are eligible to eat a cracker that’s great, but just slowly sipping that recovery elixir will really improve their strength immediately.
One of my fondest memories is handing my husband a glass of chocolate milk at a forced rest time at mile 54. He got slaphappy and almost looked drunk from how happy his body was to get protein and carbs. He was only going to mile 60 but it had been a really long day. And in the 30 minutes after getting protein and carbs in, we watched all of his body really start to come alive and his muscles were already starting to utilize that fuel.
For those of you who are managing athletes on a regular basis, you will get to know how their minds work and you will start to put in tools that will help them achieve their final goals.
My point in taking care of the athlete after they finish the finish line is that it is still part of the race. Recovery is as critical as any others set point on the course. They must be able to play again.