To get the most out of a hard workout, you need to be properly fueled going into it.
On runs lasting two hours or longer, you'll need to refuel at around the 60- to 90-minute mark to optimize performance. Replacing depleted nutrients and glycogen stores following hard and long runs can help reduce recovery time and boost physiological adaptations.
Gels, bars and liquid meals are abundant, but many contain artificial colors or flavors, chemical preservatives and/or high amounts of sodium and added sugars. Those that don't contain these unwanted additives are often pricey. There's no need to buy these products. You can get everything you need to fuel your runs and recovery from a few fast and easy recipes.
This smoothie will get you out the door and on the run in minutes. It provides around 200 calories of instantly available carbohydrate.
1/2 large banana
2 large dates
1 cup water or unsweetened almond milk
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender for 30 seconds.
Homemade Runner's Gel
This 330-calorie gel contains just the right mix of simple and complex carbs, healthy fat and protein to sustain a long effort. It's important to soak the chia seeds for at least 20 minutes to get the right consistency, so plan ahead and make this gel the night before your long run.
3 dates + 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup of rolled oats (not instant)
1 tablespoon chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup of water for 20 to 60 minutes (a gel-like slurry will form)
In a high-powered blender, pulse the dates and 2 Tbsp water 4 or 5 times. Add the oats and blend for 20 to 30 seconds until a fine, thick paste is formed. Add the chia/water slurry and blend for an additional 5 to 10 seconds, adding more water, if needed, to get the right consistency. If it's too runny, add more oats, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Post-Run Recovery Smoothie
Most forms of exercise can trigger mild, short-term oxidative stress and inflammation. This post-run smoothie is the antidote. It contains superfoods that can help combat inflammation and oxidative stress following your long or high-intensity runs. One serving provides about 250 calories.
1-1/2 cups raw kale, torn into pieces1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1-1/2 cups water + 3 to 4 ice cubes (more or less water depending on preferred consistency)
Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and mix for 60 seconds.
This super-fast snack is packed with lean protein, fiber and the antioxidant lycopene. If you use canned beans and store-bought salsa, be sure to choose brands that are lower in sodium. This 250-calorie snack contains 15 grams of protein and a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber.
1 cup cooked black beans
2 tablespoons tomato salsa
Mix and enjoy.
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