For over a decade, Widefield High School Cross-Country Team has enjoyed chocolate milk after the hardest workouts of the week – a favorite beverage of the athletes that has even become a major recruiting tool for the team.
In fact, head coach Erik Nelson has seen the cross-country team go from “nearly extinct” to a team that finished second at state in 2016.
“Kids who are on the fence about whether they want to run cross-country will be swayed by members of the team telling them they would get chocolate milk,” says Nelson.
Nelson, a Widefield High School graduate himself, and cross-country coach at the school for over 13 years, recognizes the value of quality nutrition, specifically white and chocolate milk – and he’s on the right track. Emerging research in adult athletes has demonstrated that one serving of milk post-exercise may help reduce muscle damage and improve muscle recovery – which in turn, may help the body perform better during its next workout. In fact, research shows that drinking milk after a workout can be as effective as some sports drinks in helping the body refuel, recover and rehydrate after exercise. And the new research on high school athletes is just as compelling.
“Our team has very few injury issues. I believe there are many reasons for this, but I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say our use of chocolate milk as a recovery drink has contributed to our health and success,” says Nelson.
The athletes get milk three to four days a week after the toughest workouts and races. “The kids look forward to hard workout days because they know that at the end they have cold chocolate milk waiting for them,” states Nelson, acknowledging that the milk not only benefits athletic performance, but also comradery. “Handing out and drinking the milk is definitely a social/team-building time each day. It gives us an extra reason to spend time together as a team and grow closer to one another.”
Both boys and girls qualified for State by finishing third at the Regional meet. The boys finished 12th at State with the top boy finishing eighth overall. The girls team finished 19th at State. Western Dairy Association and Colorado dairy farm families applaud coach Nelson and the Widefield Cross-Country team on another great season!
Interested in learning more? Athletes can train harder and perform better with proper nutrition. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org to read more about milk as an exercise recovery beverage and learn how to eat for peak athletic performance.