Whether you’re taking part in a local running event, such as those run by Vitality’s partner parkrun, or you’re training for a half marathon, these tips, supplied by running expert Martin Yelling (PhD), should help you reach your personal best. In part one he helped you prepare for a run, in part two he helped you maximise your run and now he’s advising you on what to eat after a run, what to do if you get injured and how to rest appropriately after a race.

Nutrition

How quickly after a work-out should you replenish energy levels?

This really depends on the intensity and duration of the workout, when in the day you’ve run, and how hungry you are. In very simple terms the longer and/or harder the workout then the more important it is to replenish your energy levels relatively quickly. This is especially relevant if you’ve not been as diligent with your nutrition as you perhaps could have been before your workout. If you’ve worked hard, are tired and hungry then get energised again by eating lightly within 20 to 40 minutes of your workout. You don’t have to consume a small mountain of food, just something to replace the energy burned and keep you going until you can eat a proper, healthy meal, ideally within a few hours. It’s also important to re-hydrate after a run especially if it’s a long, challenging workout or in hot conditions. If your run is less than 30 minutes or so, there’s no rush, but the longer and harder the workout the more important it is to get onto your post-exercise recovery.

The Run

What should I do if I get injured?

Runners who struggle with injury should seek qualified specialist help quickly – especially if it’s a painful acute or chronic injury that means running (or walking) hurts. A trusted and knowledge physiotherapist will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis to enable recovery, rehab and a return from injury. In order to avoid injury, runners can keep themselves in tip-top condition with appropriate, functional and specific conditioning routines – ideally ones that have been developed with their personal functional weakness in mind, to strengthen the area and reduce the risk of injury in the future. Pilates, yoga, and calisthenics all provide body balance and effective general conditioning. If you’re unable to run due to injury but want to maintain some cardio-fitness then swimming, aqua-jogging and cycling keep your heart and lungs working without impact.

How important is it to appropriately warm down after a half marathon?

Assuming you can still move your legs after 13.1 miles of running then a little (5 to 10 minutes) of light walking, very gentle mobility exercises, and super light stretching in the hour after your run can help your body recover, reduce muscle soreness and keep you moving! It’s easy to seize up!

What are your best recovery techniques?

A small amount of light exercise, such as walking, swimming, cycling or yoga, in the days following a running event can really help your recovery. Great food, appropriate hydration, great conversation, sharing race stories, relaxing, celebrating and a few cracking nights sleep are the best recovery strategies.

When should you go back to training following a distance race?

When to make a return to regular running depends how hard and intense the race was and what your motivation levels are to resume running again. If it was a half or full marathon then you’ll most likely want to take a decent amount of time away from any structured and dedicated running training. One day for every hard mile run is a good benchmark of time to allow before resuming any structured training. So, for a half marathon where you’ve truly run your socks off then 10-14 days of recovery, light, low intensity, unstructured running works well. If your race didn’t take that much out of you or you used it as a training run, then it’s possible to take a few easy days post-race and leap back into training three or four days later.

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