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Milk is the perfect recovery drink for cross country team

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 11/21/2012 1:07 PM

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MONONA, Iowa —MFL MarMac's cross country team replenishes following meets with chocolate milk, says their coach Becky Holt. MFL MarMac's high school is at Monona.

"This is our third year doing chocolate milk at cross country meets," Holt said. "Matt (Burns, assistant coach) and I share a philosophy that we don't want our runners drinking pop. We also think that beverages like Gatorade or Powerade are not much better than pop. And never the energy drinks, most high school athletes, including ours, do not work hard enough in practice to need that type of beverage."

Holt said that about five years ago she talked with people at the state track meet and learned that milk is good for athletes when they finish competing, especially distance runners.

"We tell the runners, water is for hydration," Holt said. "We preach that they hydrate hours and days before they run. If they're thirsty, they're already dehydrated. The milk is to replenish their body for what it lost during the 4K or 5K run at race pace."

Holt said they supply chocolate milk because it has calories, calcium and protein. They serve Prairie Farms chocolate milk.

"The runners love the milk idea," Holt said. "At first, they were unsure, but we explained why we do it. They look forward to the chocolate milk after every meet."

Clayton County Dairy Princess Catheryn Lang came to the first meet of this season and served milk.

"She serves at other dairy promotions so we thought it would be fun to have her in the picture," Holt said.

This year's MFL MarMac Cross Country Team consists of 10 male runners and six female runners. The athletes go through two gallons of milk at each meet.

Holt said Leslie Henkes, who has a dairy farm with her husband, Trent, and also works at MFL MarMac, found out about the team drinking chocolate milk and is helping to get the word out to dairy farmers.

"I think they'll be very happy to hear about what we're doing," Holt said.

Research shows milk and chocolate milk are an effective post-exercise beverage for endurance or resistance activities, said Nikki Stahr, registered dietitian with Midwest Dairy Association.

"Recent studies have found that low-fat chocolate milk has the right mix of carbohydrates and protein to help athletes refuel and recover after strenuous exercise," Stahr said. "Plus, low-fat chocolate milk has high-quality protein to help build muscle, and fluids and electrolytes, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium, to help replenish and rehydrate."

Stahr said she's pleased to hear that MFL MarMac cross country runners are drinking chocolate milk after their meets. Midwest Dairy Association partnered with Roberts Dairy and Land O'Lakes to pass out 7,000 containers of chocolate milk to RAGBRAI riders this summer. MDA has also worked with athletic programs at Drake University and Central College to promote chocolate milk as a recovery beverage.

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