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Is it necessary to eat and drink after a race?

Yes. Your diet after a race influences how quickly you recover and how soon you will be able to run again. For elite athletes who run more than once a day, a good post-run diet means they can recover in time for their next training session.

What is the best drink to take after a race?

Replacing fluids is one of the most important steps to take once you have crossed the finish line in a race and choosing the right sort of drink will give you a head start. The best choices for recovery fluids are:

    Fresh fruit juices: such as orange, pineapple and grape juice which supply carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes. If the juice is too acidic, try diluting it with water to taste.

    Water: always a good standby and will replace fluids just as well as any commercial sports drink. Water combined with a good post-race diet will replace all the fluid, carbohydrate and body salts that you have lost.

    Watery foods: try to include at least a few watery foods such as cucumber, tomatoes and grapes in a post-race meal since they will also boost your fluid supplies.

    Sports drinks: the commercial sports drinks are specially designed to replace fluid and carbohydrates. Although they do this very effectively, they don’t replace vitamins and minerals.

How soon and how much should I eat after a race?

Try to eat carbohydrate-rich foods in the four hours after you have finished your run or race. As a guideline, you should aim to consume 0.5g of carbohydrate for every pound of your bodyweight 2-3 hours after the finish. For someone weighing 150 lbs, for instance, this would work out at around 75 grams of carbohydrate. Since one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, this would be approximately 300 calories which you could obtain from a few slices of toast with orange juice, a bowl of breakfast cereals with a banana, bagels etc.

Do I need to add extra salt to my food to replace sodium losses?

No. The food we eat contains more salt than most of us need and any sodium losses will be replaced as long as you eat a range of healthy foods to help you recover.

Is there anything else I can do to help me recover from the race?

Rest. A hard race will deplete your body's storage of glycogen and your muscles will need at least two days rest combined with your high carbo recovery diet to completely recover from your efforts.