While training for my first half-marathon, those longer training runs did me in. It wasn’t so much that my muscles couldn’t handle it, as I was following the training schedule to a tee, but I felt completely spent the rest of the day. I’d get a bad headache and feel so physically exhausted with hardly any energy to climb the stairs, and sometimes it’d last through the next day.
It really put me off to longer workouts, until I read a tip from Kara Goucher that she heard from her coach Alberto Salazar: drink a post-workout protein shake. I was definitely noshing on a snack after a long workout, but I realized a banana and peanut butter wasn’t enough. So after a 10-miler, I gave it a try. I sipped on this strawberry-watermelon smoothie, which offers 15 grams of protein. What a difference! I instantly felt energized, and although my body was a little sore and tired, I didn’t feel totally depleted, and I was pleasantly shocked.
Protein is key for repairing muscles, so it leads to a faster recovery. That’s why this little trick also works for intense strength-training workouts. Be sure to eat between 10 and 20 grams of protein within 15 to 30 minutes of a completed workout (the sooner the better!). No need to go overboard with protein, as you also don’t want to overdo it on calories. And pair your protein with carbs to replenish fuel.
A protein smoothie is a perfect choice because it’s quick to make and sip down. But you can also treat yourself to this vegan recovery ice cream, or snack on a protein bar (store-bought or homemade), yogurt with nuts, chocolate milk, or two hard-boiled eggs. If you’ve finished a long workout right before mealtime, make sure your plate includes lean protein sources, such as grilled chicken, beans, tofu, or whole grains. Refueling with enough protein is sure to make a difference in how you feel after a grueling workout.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar