Avoid Running on Empty

Four Elite Runners Share Their Go-To Recovery Fuel


November 29, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Howie Stern

While pro athletes might not refuel at a restaurant with tacos and margaritas like the Resident Runners crew (who hosts a monthly taco run where you head out with a crew for three to five miles and end at a taco shop to refuel), each has his or her own routine when it comes to nutrition. Athletes take nutrition very seriously. We spoke with a handful of elite runners that have their post-run nutrition dialed to see what works best for them. If you’re looking to improve your performance, what you put into your body is important to help refuel for the next race. What’s important to note is that nutrition and fueling up post-race is incredibly individual. We suggest trying different methods during training to see what works best for you.

Jes Woods, Ultramarathoner

Photo: Howie Stern
Woods recently finished the Javelina 100, a 100-mile race in Arizona. “Just like most things running related, fueling tends to be personal and what works for me may not work for everyone,” Woods says. “For example, I wouldn’t recommend drinking an IPA and eating a donut post-race to just anyone,” she jokes. While Woods typically has an appetite come mile 90 of the race, post-race she’s pretty spent. “I find it fairly difficult to eat anything immediately after finishing.” After she gets home and can put her feet up, she’ll enjoy a few of her favorite foods that she’s spent most of the race planning. “I was half joking about the post-race beer, but it’s better than nothing as a quick way to take in some calories and carbs (in moderation and coupled with a ton of water). It has become tradition to pick up donuts at a local donut shop and later order-in pizza, so both myself and the crew team can focus on the other aspects of recovery like putting our feet up, compression socks, ice and/or taking a dip in Grandpa’s pool,” Woods says.

Dylan Bowman, Red Bull Ultrarunner

Photo: Red Bull
Bowman competed in this year’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a single-stage mountain ultramarathon race in the TDS, the Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (the footprints of the Dukes of Savoie). “For recovery, I simply focus on rehydrating immediately and then staying adequately hydrated throughout the day,” Bowman says. “I don’t really ever emphasize protein immediately after workouts and instead focus on replenishing electrolytes and fluids. I usually have at least two to three Nuun tabs per day and also add Utah Sea Minerals to my water regularly. I think that day-to-day hydration is something that most people could improve and is an under-appreciated contributor to performance and recovery.”

Megan Roche, Hoka One One Athlete


A doctor and now author of The Happy Runner, Roche was most recently crowned the half marathon trail champion by the USA Track and Field association at the Birkie Trail run in Seeley, Wisconsin. “I typically used the Mocha flavor of Vega Protein Powder and mix with a banana and ice as well as a mixture of half unsweetened almond milk and half water to make a tasty shake,” Roche says of her fueling on longer races. “I find this combination is easy to make and enables me to quickly get in a good quantity of protein and carbohydrates without some of the added preservatives in traditional protein sources. It also serves as a good addition to post-run hydration. In the winter I use the vanilla flavor and substitute ice with pumpkin so that the shake is not as cold.”

Courtney Dauwalter, Ultrarunner

Photo: Nate Simmons
Dauwalter has won 11 ultramarathons, so she has had plenty of practice in figuring out what helps her succeed post-race. “Immediately after long runs and races I use Tailwind Rebuild (chocolate, on ice) for a quick and easy way to get some crucial nutrients back in my system,” Dauwalter says. Her most recent race was the last-man-standing Big’s Backyard Ultra, where she ran 279 miles. “After that, it’s usually beer and listening to my body’s cravings,” she says. “Why? Our bodies can tell us what they need if we pay attention to what we are craving. And beer is a delicious way to celebrate a long day on the trails.”

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