I love freebies, don’t you? One of the perks of having a nutrition practice and blog is that fairly often I receive packages from food companies who want us to sample their “goods”. Let’s just say some of the “goods” are better than others and some aren’t very good at all. In early September I received one such package. It was from a company called reGen. Enclosed in the package was a nice, handwritten, note from their PR person suggesting I try reGen for my marathon training. This was a nice gesture but I wasn’t initially itching to try reGen and it remained in the box for a couple of weeks.
Last week, Deena Kastor was interviewed on one of my favorite blogs Running Dialogue . Deena Kastor is the queen of US running. She is also someone I cite in sports nutrition talks as she had an unfortunate porto potty stop last year in the Chicago Marathon, the very marathon I’m training for. My message, in mentioning Denna, is that “it”/ GI distress can happen to any runner. Due to jet lag, she ate too close to the start of the race. She tinkered with her eating routine on race day, a big sports nutrition no no. This blog post focused on what Deena drinks during the race. I was a little shocked that she uses rather processed products (I actually didn’t remember the specific names). While I thought I read the post and forgot about it, I think the fact that Deena consumed these engineered sporty beverages stuck with me. Despite her mistake, surely Deena must know a thing or 2 about these marathons.
In general though, I’m an advocate of whole, real food. I subscribe to a couple of Michael Pollan’s food rules in that I am fine with treats as long as they are homemade and also feel ingredients should be pronounceable. Throughout my marathon training I’ve kept products to a minimum and only used sports drinks and the like for long (over 12) mile runs. I prefer Honey Stinger and Clif offerings as I feel their ingredients are far better than most. In terms of recovery, I generally concoct a smoothie with protein powder, fruit, fresh ginger, coconut water and maca. This gives me protein and carbohydrates, potassium, a natural anti inflammatory and a little energy. This has worked well as my post-run stomach is a little off.
This past Thursday, I was leaving the office. I knew I had a 21 miler to run Friday and spotted the reGen package. I grabbed one of the containers which resemble the soft zico packaging before they went to the plastic bottle. When I got home, I put the reGen in the refrigerator. I ran the 21 miler, with help from a Chelsea Handler audio book and a new playlist. Normally, when I get home from a long run I just want to sit down. I usually stretch and then go to the computer with ice packs under my temperamental hamstrings. This time, I grabbed the reGen first thing, on my way to my desk. I didn’t ice as I was toying with the idea of an ice bath (which never happened). Instead, I took a hot bath (ahhh), did some work and went along with my day.
I am not one to believe in nutrition magic and instead maintain that how we feel is a composite of many health behaviors versus any one supplement or product. I just have to be honest and tell you I wasn’t sore at all the next day. This is unusual. My mind initially went to reGen, was this the reason? I think reGen is a good product. It is cocoa based and studies documenting cocoa’s ability to improve blood flow and therefore improve soreness were sent to me along with the beverages. I didn’t not read this literature until yesterday, 2 days after the run in case you suspect the placebo effect is at play. Additionally, I consumed the reGen sooner after my run than my typical smoothie. It was ready and waiting and I had it as soon as I got home. I would use reGen again (who can argue with those results) as I’m curious to see if my lack of soreness can be replicated. In the meantime, I will pull my cocoa out of the pantry and make my smoothie before I run so that it’s ready. And finally, when it comes to recovery I also have to look at the meticulous training schedule I’ve been following.
What do you consume after a long workout? How did you hear about it initially? Do you have any “magic bullets” in your nutrition arsenal or things you simply swear by?