On this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition; we have all your bases covered, when it comes to post-event recovery. We all know the importance of recovery after any session, however having reached an event goal often people slip off the diet rails. So from immediately after to the weeks that follow; here it is…
You listening to 32Gi Sports Nutrition I’m Mr Active, David Katz. It’s been a busy few weeks in South Africa with the Comrades Marathon and talking to a lot of elite athletes about that race, and other races around South Africa.
But it’s a great pleasure now to have Mark Wolff from 32Gi back on the podcast and…Mark you’ve been busy the last couple of days. I know you were racing a challenge event up in Denmark just on the weekend.
MW: Yes that’s correct Dave I spent three days standing at an expo and then I decided to go and race it was a half distance. Absolutely incredible event really well organised unbelievable atmosphere. Yes so I think it’s very different racing in Europe but I really, really enjoyed it.
DK: Mark having Comrades Marathon we’re only just over two and a half weeks post Comrades Marathon. Looking at events like a Challenge or an ultra-distance triathlon; in South Africa we have all these crazy marathon and stage race mountain bike events, recovery becomes so important.
Think about it people have trained this is their goal, they reach their goal all of a sudden can you go off the rails. So the first thing I do wanna ask you is looking at that straight after the race. When you’ve done an event sort of endurance event like this, what is important when it comes to nutrition and hydration?
What to do immediately after your event
MW: Well I think first off when you immediately finish an event there’s no harm in spoiling yourself with some decent treats. I mean I think all of us crave something like that especially if we’ve been really watching our diets prior to that event to make sure that everything’s on track.
Post-event there’s no problem like you say going off the rails for a little period of time. But the problem is that…one’s appetite changes so drastically post-event. It tends to snowball and it carries on for many days and sometimes even weeks afterwards. I think it specifically happens as well when there’s no goal after the goal. So I always tell people set a goal and then work towards it again.
But from a recovery perspective there’s quite a number of things that we do need to look at especially from a nutrition point of view. One of the things that your body requires is for you to stay well hydrated post-exercise or post-race. That’s very critical because I mean; first of all you do finish very dehydrated…the muscles definitely require fluid in order to be able to start the repair process.
Why hydration is SO important post-event
One of the things that I always tell people is that you need to actually make sure that you that you drinking proper fluids. Taking the right amount of fluids…post-events in order to aid that process properly.
I know that a lot of people tend to jump into having a beer or alcohol and start to switch to wine etcetera. You gotta be very careful. If this is your event and you not going any further for quite a while, then by all means go ahead and treat yourself to alcohol.
But if you using an event as a stepping stone for another event you need to recover from it pretty quickly. Then you should probably avoid alcohol at all cost. Because alcohol does dehydrate the system. It pulls the fluid from the muscles and it actually hampers that recovery process. It definitely, definitely improves the recovery process avoiding it.
In actual fact you know I’m in…racing in Europe and I raced this past weekend. One of the amazing things is that Erdinger, which is one of the biggest…beer companies, they come out of Germany. They actually make or they’re one of the biggest alcohol free manufacturers…in Europe.
They at every single triathlon event on the European content. It’s quite amazing I mean it’s an alcohol free beer. You getting in the carbs you getting in some fluids you not actually worrying about anything.
You know you speak to the Germans who are actually big beer drinkers and they tell you it taste really, really good. So I don’t think there’s many complaints about whether it’s a beer or not. That’s just an example of how critical it is to try an alcohol post-event in order to make sure that the recovery process is not hampered.
Yummy treats after the race – you’ve earned it
One of the other things you do need to look at is…once you’ve had your treats I know after my events in Denmark, I had a Danish pastry. I don’t normally eat those kinds of things. But I actually deserved it and I earned it. So it’s okay to treat yourself.
But then you need to make a conscious decision to get back onto those rails. You need to be able to start to look at eating correct foods. By that I mean you know back to taking in the right amount of protein to make sure that the muscles have got the proper nutrients to repair themselves. There’s definitely…soft tissue damage.
It happens during a race especially in events like Comrades or…a half course or full course triathlon or a marathon. There’s definitely a lot of soft tissue damage that takes place. You need to take in the right amount of protein in order to be able to – again aid that process protein needs to be utilised in order to help with the repair process.
So again looking at how much protein you require, eating it on a daily basis and trying to keep the carbohydrate intake, healthy carbohydrate intake…you know obviously fruits and vegetables are obviously the ideal carbs to actually go for. There’s no need now to actually go back to eating very heavy starches etcetera.
36 hours – get the eating back on track post-event
However a lot of athletes will crave, starches, bread, pastries etcetera. And I think it’s just a matter of your body’s been through quite a bit. We have these cravings and these tendencies. But I would say within 36 hours after the event you need to take control of these eating habits. You need to get yourself back on track. Especially if you have got a goal that’s waiting around the corner.
The other thing is if you don’t have a goal waiting around the corner you should pick one. Because post-event a lot of people tend to gain excessive amounts of weight. To me an excessive amount can be anything from two to five kilos. It’s still it’s a lot of weight. Then it means you’ve gotta lose it again when you do your next event.
Why do you have to deal with that if you can actually maintain a proper healthy weight consistent. It’s far, far better and it’s easier to deal with. This roller coaster ride of gain weight lose weight. It’s not the right place to be, right space to be.
I would say rather try and maintain a balance and there’s no reason to gain an extra two kilograms or three kilograms post-exercise. Again sleep is probably very critical for…post-race recovery. I would say definitely we need to try and focus on getting rest, get your feet up. That’s obviously more of a passive kind of recovery post-event.
48 to 72 hours post-event your body needs a break
Then many people are doing active recovery, it really depends on how hard you push yourself through the event and what you capable of. But generally like the first 48 to 72 hours after an event your body’s quite sore. Especially if it’s been an ultra-distance event.
I mean something like the Comrades Down run takes days and days to recover from. I would say give yourself the time to rest and recover before you start getting into some active recovery.
Which could just be easy movement you know some swimming you know more upper body movement. Stimulating the lower body a little bit not excessively. Taking your time in order to be able to adapt. If you got another goal you need to ensure that you’ve got time between those two events.
You can recover properly and still carry on training in order to be able to support that event. In that case you need to get back to your basics very quickly from a nutrition point of view. From a rest point of view, and from a recovery point of view.
DK: Well Mark I think you’ve touched on really important point there to have that goal. There a lot of people, don’t you know you’ve trained for this event, that was the goal. Then you think I’ll make my mind up after that. So great idea sort of a great motivation there is to have that secondary goal as Mark pointed out.
Why your mind can fool your body
Mark looking at recovery, I mean people are always sort of trying to speed things up. They want to recover quicker so they can get back to training. I know you said it depends on the event, it depends on the athlete but what about something like you guys have a product TRUMAG. Magnesium is there anything else out there that may speed up your recovery from a nutritional point of view?
MW: Magnesium is proven to help…with fatigue it definitely, definitely helps with muscle function. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system. I mean it’s all medically proven and it does help with sleep. So a hundred percent the better you sleep the better you recover…the more you can actually. Because fatigue does set in sometimes post-event.
It’s interesting enough those people mentally feel that they can go and train can go and exercise, etcetera. But the mind sometimes are way stronger than the body. People don’t realise that on a cellular level the damage to the body is quite significant. So you shouldn’t fall into that trap.
Nutrients and Vitamins that can aid recovery
So from a fatigue point of view I mean magnesium can help…there are other natural supplements of course. Things like vitamin C, is quite good to get the immune system back up post-event. The immune systems takes…a lot of people get sick after an ultra-distance event. I would say that, that would be something to look at. It’s just increasing vitamin C dosage post-event.
Another thing a person can look at…taking in zinc for example it also helps the immunity. Any scratchy clothes or infections there zinc would be something that would be worth looking at. And the recovery side I mean things like glutamine do actually assist with recovery. I would say that’s quite a decent…nutrient to take in. I would recommend taking in twice a day on an empty stomach try and get it into the system.
There’s many ways of aiding the recovery and those are just some of them. But the best way is to actually try and rest. Listen to the body, eat healthy take in plenty of fluids. You can’t get more natural than that. You just gotta be patient with the process and not start any rigorous activity too shortly afterwards.
I mean I needed a half distance this weekend…I can’t say – I didn’t push myself. This entire week my focus is trying to recover properly from that event. Because I’ve got five weeks to the next one. I need to make sure that I can start to train effectively over the next couple of weeks. If I don’t focus on the recovery this week; and it’s active recovery for me it has to be I only took one day rest, I need to find a rest factor for the recovery. If I don’t focus on it properly, I don’t focus on my nutrition. There’s no ways that I can hope to perform in an event in 5 weeks’ time…if I can’t put in the quality work up. So it’s very, very critical.
DK: Well there you have it. Everything you need to know about post-event recovery. Some great information there. Thanks to Mark Wolff, joining us on Skype, not in South Africa at the moment. We’ll be back next week with another action packed podcast here on 32Gi. So from myself Mr Active, David Katz and Mark Wolff we’ll catch up with you next time.