You crossed the finish line. You Pushed Your Possible through workouts that made you question your life choices (you know, those mornings when it hurt to get out of bed and put on pants).
You probably got through your effort with some Gnarly Fuel2O or Gnarly Hydrate. But now it’s time for a celebration that is the culmination of adrenaline, relief and exhaustion. It’s time for a recovery meal. But what’s on the menu?
Post-endeavour nutrition can shape the recovery process. Protein and amino acids, in particular, are important in recovery because they help with rebuilding muscle that tore during workouts. Aiming for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein is a good base for helping your body recover from lost glycogen storage, and to get those muscles repaired.
But refueling looks different for all of us and to get a better idea of how Gnarly athletes are replenishing post race, we asked a few to share their ideal meal after they’ve pushed their possible.
Running on burgers with RDP
The Raleigh Distance Project consists of a badass group of elite female runners. They’re a mix of students and professionals who also happen to be extremely talented runners, some who’ve posted times that have qualified them for the USA Olympic Marathon Trials.
What are they eating post-race?
Nikki Long, who runs a 4:48 mile, refuels with a classic. “I love a post-race pizza and beer for a recovery meal,” she said. “My ideal pizza is cheese, pepperoni, green peppers and honey on the crust.”
Her teammates Caity Ashley and Allie Triskett are both advocates of the recovery burger, too. “I always go for a cheeseburger, french fries and chocolate shake at the best local burger joint of whatever city I’m racing in,” Caity said. Make that a vegan burger with sweet potato fries and a beer for Allie.
Other runners on the RDP can’t stomach a burger after a race, so they prefer to go with something lighter.
Shae Eberhard’s recovery meal is a bit unique: “Instead of pounding beer or pancakes or a huge burger, I like a nice, simple turkey sandwich. After a huge effort like a marathon I always feel terrible and the only thing I can stomach is a sandwich, which I supplement with a Gnarly chocolate vegan protein drink as well! The next day, when the celebrations begin (and I’m feeling much better), I always have a whole pizza and slice of chocolate cake.”
Rita Beard is on a similar wavelength with opting for a blended smoothie with two scoops of Gnarly vegan chocolate, vegan vanilla yogurt, banana, vegan chocolate milk and ice.
When ice cream is the only solution
Gnarly athlete Lael Wilcox sometimes rides (and usually wins) cycling races that last for weeks. The Tour Divide, for example, took Lael 17 days to complete, which was two days faster than the previous record. During these ultra-endurance races, Lael aims to consume 10,000 calories each day to refuel her while she’s riding over 200 miles daily.
“The main idea is that you just have to keep eating like it’s your job,” Lael said. “My races are on a continuous clock. I don’t want to waste time stopping to eat, so I try to eat everything on the bike. It can get pretty messy!”
After Lael’s massive races, she says she becomes an eating machine, and there’s one recovery food she’ll almost never say “no” to: ice cream. “It’s like rocket fuel,” Lael said.
For other options, Lael sticks to nourishing foods that help with recovery physically and emotionally. “My mental and physical capacity, and my emotions, are tied to food,” she said. “I feel exhausted and then I eat a rich meal, and I’m buzzing with energy. For the most part, I just want real food—like eggs, avocados, salad and potatoes.”
A sushi affair
Gnarly athlete Ben Light often runs races that cover more than 200 miles. To make things more challenging, he’ll string a few 200-plus mile courses together over a few months, like he did with the Triple Crown of 200s, combining the Bigfoot 200, Tahoe 200, and the Moab 240.
Before you read Ben’s current habit, it must be stated that he is a professional athlete with years of diet experimentation and athletic training under this belt. Know that Ben’s diet is specific for his own body, and this is what works for him. But it might not be perfect for you as every person has different needs and fuels differently.
That being said, Ben eats a low-carb diet in which he replenishes glycogen storage in a three-hour window one day per week. Lately, he’s been filling that eating window with sushi. “It’s my go-to post-long-run meal,” Ben said. “I can typically put down five full rolls by myself.”
Ben’s in agreement with some of the RDP that a burger can often be the perfect feast. “My old post-run meal was burgers,” he said. “And if I come across a joint that makes a world-famous burger claim, I have to judge myself.” So far nothing has beat his all-time favorite burger he ate in Glasgow, Scotland, right before the 268-mile Spine Race.
Let the celebratory fueling commence
Burgers, turkey sandwiches, ice cream and sushi all refuel our Gnarly athletes. Replenishing lost glycogen and giving those sore muscles some protein to help with rebuilding is an essential part of the recovery process. But so is eating something extra delicious because you totally deserve it.