Gregg was wondering about why recovery takes a long time after an ultrarun, and what he can do to speed-up recovery and feel "normal" again.
My secret to a speedier recovery:
Rest is important. I think there should be no running for 2-5 days after an ultra event. Gage it by how you feel. If you feel fine after an event, take just 2 days off, and then hit the training as hard as you want. If you feel like total dogsh*t, "take five," dude. You may need to take more time, especially if you're injured, though.
Immediately after an event there are some extra nutritional requirements that help with recovery, including supplementation. Lots of antioxidants and the right food immediately after a race...I mean immediately, help tremendously. Within 30 minutes after finishing, you should eat a combo of simple & complex carbs and protein & fats. Some runners do this with something as simple as a quart of chocolate milk. Many adults in the "ultrarunning demographic" (read "more mature" runners), are lactose intolerant or need to watch their cholesterol, etcetera. So choco-milk is not an option.
For myself and when I'm traveling, I take with me some (vegan) rice protein and locally buy (prior to the race) some Odwalla or Naked brand fruit juice smoothie. After the race, I'll drink a little of the juice out of the bottle, drop the rice protein powder in, and shake it up. I'll then drink it, and have lots of water, too. How much rice protein? I use 25 grams of protein content. (You be the judge of your own use, because I am not a doctor or licensed nutritionist). As soon as I can stomach taking pills, I will also take an antioxidant combination and a multimineral tablet, with some flaxseed oil, as well.
You need to get simple sugars, complex carbs, protein, some fats, and antioxidants into your system right away to keep your body from devouring itself after the race, which will definitely postpone your recovery. Why do I use rice protein? It gets into your system quickly and benignly. Animal-based and soy protein tend to be linked with inflammation issues, so I've learned to stay away from them after a race. If I forget my rice protein, I'll eat some chicken, fish, or egg whites, if available.
Here's a list of the antioxidants that I take immediately (with a multi-mineral):
Ester C...vitamin C in the "calcium ascorbate" form.
Natural Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
(And I always choose a smoothie drink with lots of natural antioxidants, including beta carotene).
There are other antioxidants out there. Grapeseed extract, etcetera. The ones I've mentioned above are a starting point.
How much of these substances do you take? It has a lot to do with how much do you weigh, and how far and hard you have run. There's some reasonable information on the internet as to dosages. (Keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I just "play doctor" for fun with my woman). I can steer you in the right direction, though: look for articles on web sites that are related to ultra-running, ultra-cycling, and ironman activities.
There are many consumer products out there, and their companies will tell you that you need to drink their particular "recovery" product. They may or may not be decent products. They want your money, and there is not much regulation for recovery supplementation products and their claims. Those products tend to be very expensive, too. Consumers beware! I prefer "real food" and my own particular choices for artificial supplementation; basically what will "stay down" and not cause my system any further distress). Again, I'm not a doctor...blah, blah, blah.
About 1-2 hours after the regimen that I've outlined, you need to eat a regular meal or a couple of small meals. Eat some real food, and try to stick to a "well-rounded" diet, food-wise.
By the way, all of this information about recovery strategies above should also be applied to your longer (or faster) training runs. It helps a lot to keep you in "ultra shape."
To happy trails and speedy recoveries,
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