Pack it right and this post-race recovery bag can offer more than just a set of warm clothes; it can help your weary muscles refresh so your body breaks down less throughout the day. Make sure these essentials are ready to go on race day so you can walk easily — rather than hobble — to your car or the post-race party.
The Right Fuel
For optimal recovery, time is of the essence. Within an hour of finishing, grab a mix of protein and carbs to fend off post-exercise soreness and fatigue. The longer you wait, the longer the amount of time it takes for muscles to repair themselves.
Carbohydrates restock the glycogen burned during the race, and protein does the rest by thwarting the microscopic damage experienced in the muscle tissue with every passing mile. Aim for approximately 65 to 90 grams of carbohydrate to restock your glycogen stores and follow with 15 to 30 grams of protein to stop muscle breakdown. (This is for a 60 - 80kg runner—male or female. Use less or more depending on your body weight.)
You shouldn’t depend on the post-race food spread as you’re likely to find a smattering of carb options like bagels, sports drinks, bananas. But high-quality protein options are typically limited. Consider packing your snacks in the form of a ready-to-drink shake or have a scoop of protein powder mix (that you’ve had during training and like). Some packable snacks to get you started for your carbo and protein refuelling include:
- 1 whole wheat English muffin topped with 2 Tbsp nut butter + jam (13 g protein, 61 g carb)
- Trail mix made of 1/4 cup each: mixed nuts, roasted soybeans, dried fruit (24 g protein, 54 g carb)
Pro triathlete and foodie Rebeccah Wassner has another example. She grabs a homemade nutrient-rich bone broth, or a BruBroth. “I find that it helps me eliminate that run-down feeling [after] a long flight or car drive,” she says. Something like that adds a boost of hydration, sodium, and hint of protein. Even if you want to refuel with something like a shake, pack a sandwich—such as one whole wheat pita with 1/4 cup shelf-stable hummus, and 3 oz. chilled chicken (31 g protein, 48 g carb)—inside an insulated bag to hit the protein threshold needed to jumpstart your overall recovery.