Leadville 100 Preview: Post-Race Recovery Tips
You survived months of training, a lead-up week filled with nervous energy, and a race day that lasted somewhere between six and 12 hours. Now what? How do you recover from the Leadville 100? “Ideally you want to eat something within 30 minutes of the end of the race,” recommends…
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You survived months of training, a lead-up week filled with nervous energy, and a race day that lasted somewhere between six and 12 hours. Now what? How do you recover from the Leadville 100?
“Ideally you want to eat something within 30 minutes of the end of the race,” recommends Dr. John Heiss, Ph.D., and lead scientist behind the Herblife24 product line. “The most important thing is to ingest carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. So a good mix of protein and carbs is key. About 60 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein right away will go a long way. Also make sure to get some electrolytes going. That will help absorption of the protein and carbs.”
Heiss says each athlete has a “gas tank” of stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in his or her muscles and liver. After a hard workout, racers need to re-fill this tank. While carbs are vital after a long day in the saddle, consuming protein and carbs together increases glycogen restoration, muscle rebuilding, and helps support the immune system, which will be on the ropes after Leadville.
Together this equates to reduced recovery time, meaning if you’re as brave as Cannondale pro Tim Johnson, you’ll be able to rebound and race the six-day Breck Epic stage race, which starts the day after Leadville in nearby Summit County.
Before ingesting solid food, it’s a good idea to start with some kind of recovery drink such as Herbalife Rebuild Endurance, recommends Heiss. “You want to look for drinks that contain about a 3-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein,” he advises. “That combination will help jumpstart the recovery process, because protein is best utilized when paired with carbohydrates to elicit an insulin response. It’s also good to have a mixture of fast and slow-acting protein together with fast and slow carbohydrates.”
And just for conversation sake, what about a more moderate workout, say a three-hour Leadville training ride?
“Then carbohydrate intake is not quite as essential,” explains Heiss, who is racing his first Leadville this year. “But you can still benefit greatly from protein. You just haven’t completely depleted your glycogen stores like you will have after Saturday. In that case look for drinks with a blend of proteins along with some sugars, which elicits a moderate insulin response, increasing the muscle building benefit.”
Heiss adds that mixed-protein source drinks are becoming popular, because multiple protein types are metabolized at different rates, which function to supply amino acids over several hours to rebuild muscle and help support the immune system.
Of course if you’ve not opted for the sort of masochism Johnson has lined up, you should also make sure to celebrate and have a little fun after Leadville.
“My strategy was to always go out for Mexican food, hang out with friends and family, and have a few cold ones,” says six-time Leadville champ Dave Wiens. “It’s a great feeling to be done. There is a big weight off your shoulders, and it’s time enjoy yourself a little.”