Let me introduce to you food: undoubtedly the best part of running. There’s no better feeling than coming back from a weekend long run to a fat stack of breakfast carbs and knowing that you can eat the entire thing without any trace of guilt. As college students, our metabolisms already require an excessive amount of food, so add in running and we have a massive appetite to satisfy.
Even though daily our caloric needs usually trump those of a non-runner, we still have to be smart about what we consume. Sugar, dairy, and processed foods have all been linked to inflammation which makes it harder to recover from training runs as well as injuries. In my experience, the best way to speed recovery and protect our hardworking legs and bodies is to eat as many plant-based foods as possible, especially foods high in iron and calcium such as spinach, almond/soy milk, and beans. Eating a high-carb snack or meal after a run is always a good idea. These carbs will immediately be used to rebuild the muscles that were just broken down while running. (This also means that the best time to indulge in something sweet is right after you run while your body is primed for digesting sugars). If you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, just a piece of fruit or a granola bar would give your body enough to work with.
However, I like to schedule my runs so that I can have a full meal almost immediately after. Especially right after I wake up; that way I know I’ll be hungry for a big breakfast or even lunch after my run. Although Bruff may not always have the best quality, it does have a reliable salad bar, available fruit, and some kind of cooked protein and vegetable. Almost every time I go to Bruff, a sweet potato is the first thing I get. Then I try to get some protein through beans or tofu, salad, and of course fruit. Options in the LBC also offer a number of plant-based options such as tofu pho from Star Ginger, a bean burrito from Al Fuego, and veggie wraps from Pickles. Of course, lean protein from non-plant sources is a great option for some runners as well, personally I just tend to stay away from processed meat.
Hopefully this article made you hungry and excited to EAT after your next run! Remember eating enough gives us energy, and eating right gives us ability. Check back next week for the final segment of How to Run at Tulane: Foundation.