It's okay to dive right into a burger or slice of pizza if you ate well before your race, right? Not quite.
How you refuel in the first three hours after a race will have a direct effect on your recovery. Eat the wrong foods or fail to hydrate and you'll be left feeling sore and achy.
Here's what your body is yearning for after 6.2-miles of pounding the pavement.
Hydration: Within 30 Minutes of Finishing
The most important part of race recovery is hydration. "Muscles need repair and hydration to carry the nutrients for repair," says Karen Freeman, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Hydration isn't always an intuitive choice for runners, Freeman says.
"It's easy to eat foods that make your mouth water when you're thirsty and you don't realize how thirsty you are," Freeman says.
Choosing foods like ice cream and salty pretzels might be your first instinct, but water should be your go-to.
If you're not a fan of water and don't want to drink the popular alternative, Gatorade, try this DIY sports drink recommended by Samantha Hua, owner of Happy Food Health instead. Start with an 8-ounce glass of orange juice, and then add 1 tablespoon of salt and a pinch of honey. "It actually tastes like Gatorade," Hua says.
In addition to water, Lisa Foley, owner of Lisa Foley Fitness, recommends you nosh on a small carbohydrate-heavy meal, like a smoothie made with fruit and yogurt, or a bagel with peanut butter.
Can't stomach a full meal? "Drink chocolate milk, which provides protein, carbohydrates and B vitamins," Foley says.
Within the first 30 minutes, you can also reach for yogurt, toast with peanut butter, or cereal with milk, all of which will help your race recovery efforts.
More: Best Post-Race Beers