Reader To Reader: Training After A Run


It's a common enough problem: you resolve to follow your run with some strength exercises or flexibility training, but you're too worn out after running...

"I am about to re-embark on a weight-loss running plan. I keep reading that cross-training and core exercises should be added after a run, but I have no energy to do extra work after a run. I feel that if I am not shattered, then I haven't given 100 per cent to my run. Is this the wrong mindset? Is it OK to leave surplus energy to perform core exercises etc after a run? Any advice gratefully accepted!"Breathless in Barrow

Your best answers

  • Try doing core exercises before your run
    First off, all power to you for tackling your weight loss issue with such determination and enthusaism. But don't be so hard on yourself that you feel lazy if you haven't worked to exhaustion on your run. Have you tried setting aside some time before you run? It sounds like too simple a solution I know, but given that working the core is mostly about correct technique, it just makes more sense to do the exercises when your muscles are fresh rather than straight after a hard run. Also once you're out on the run, you don't feel like you've got it hanging over you. It's worked for me, maybe it'll work for you. – Mudmonster
  • Ease into your running plan
    Have you had a chance to look at the beginners' training plans on this site (the grey training tab at the top)? Going straight in to three 30-min sessions is quite a strong start, and it's important not to get injured at this stage. There are some simple rules to follow for beginner runners:
    1. Good shoes: properly fitted by a running specialist
    2. Run slowly: slower than you think you need
    3. Don't increase distance by more than 10% each week
    4. Don't increase both distance and intensity in the same week.
    Red Haired Girl Down Under
  • Don't overdo it
    If you are that pooped from the run, you are probably overdoing it. Train carefully and slowly, then build intensity, speed and distance gradually. That way you will avoid injury and stay motivated. The first thing you should do after a run is stretch and re-hydrate. You can combine stretching with core exercises on an exercise ball – I got one for Christmas and they're brilliant. – Pit Stop Crew
  • Try Pilates before your run
    Have you tried doing a Pilates class or similar core stability class to learn good techniques? I would suggest doing Pilates, or perhaps an "abs" class or similar at the gym before your treadmill run. Once you are confident with Pilates or other techniques, you can incorporate some of the exercises into your post-run stretches. A simple Pilates routine will include stretching your muscles, articulating your spine and working your core abdominals, so it's ideal for post-running. You would need to do a class or get tuition to learn the techniques, though. – OJO
  • Cross-training is part of being a runner
    I think a lot of people believe running is just about putting on a pair of trainers and running. I no longer agree. After taking on the services of a personal trainer, I realise that it's important to condition your body before you start running. Cross-training is exhausting, and my advice (which is my trainer's advice) is to do gym work first, then run. I use the aerobic equipment to warm up on. – paul johnson
  • Keep the pace slow
    If your aim is to lose weight, you shouldn't be giving 100% in your workouts. The point is to spend as much time as possible running, rather than running at high intensity. Buy a heart-rate monitor, which can tell you when you're going too hard. At this stage it's the time spent running that really counts, not the distance covered. – Silver Shadow
  • Run-walk to and from the gym
    Can you run to the gym, or walk there to warm up, then do your core exercises and take a gentle run back? If you're eating a healthy diet, you don't need too much extra carbohydrate until you're really training hard (1-2 hours hard a day, six days a week). Otherwise you won't lose any weight. – Tootie A
  • Chat on your run
    If you're trying to lose weight, you ought to lower the intensity of the cardio stuff so that you can keep going for longer. If you haven't got a heart rate monitor, a good rule of thumb is if you can't chat, you're probably overdoing it. – Craig Llewellyn
  • Exercise is of less value when you're tired
    When you're tired, or even just half-tired, after a run, you aren't going to get the best out of a strength-training exercise. Mental and physical fatigue may well interfere with your posture to the extent that you end up doing the exercises with poor form and getting injured. I think the "fat-burning" low-intensity zone is a myth, and that high-intensity exercise burns more total calories, and more fat, per unit of time. The most important factor is the distance you run. However, running at around 70% of maximum heart rate, or a perceived effort of "able to talk in short sentences", is easier to sustain, and less likely to lead to you becoming injured or stopping enjoying your runs. – Velociraptor
  • Leave the strength training for another day
    Do your core exercises as a separate session, and not straight after you've run. You should stretch after a run, though. Working the core when you're already fatigued will not be as effective, because the muscles that act as stabilisers are already tired from your run. Also you'll find more challenging core work (the plank, etc) much easier when you start to lose weight and are more conditioned. – Siance
  • Try alternating
    I started running partly to help me lose weight, but couldn't do much to start with because I was so unfit. I joined a gym and alternated between cardio-vascular and weights/floor work. I did 10 minutes of running, then weights, then another 10 minutes on the bike or cross-trainer. I found this a better way of burning calories than to do one hard slog and end up exausted. There's no point doing exercises when shattered, as you will not be able to concentrate on doing them properly and could injure yourself. Now that I am fitter, I tend to split my cardio from my conditioning work and do them on alternate days. – SuperCaz
  • Visit your sports centre – and watch the food
    At this early stage, focus on doing a moderate amount of excercise every day or as often as your schedule allows. I'd also recommend speaking to your local sports centre. Explain your objectives, and they can help assess your current position, provide a training plan and support you to reach your goals. Spin and cross-training classes will be an excellent way of improving your stamina in a controlled manner. Also make sure that you're eating a balanced diet – many people find that keeping a food diary helps. – Aidan Naughton
  • Try a few press-ups
    I hate weights, but I'm only too aware of their benefits. So, when time allows, I tend to spend 10 minutes after a run doing press-ups and other exercises that hit the whole body in one go. Specific exercises are great if you have the time and energy, but squats, press-ups and a few core exercises after a run achieve great results without feeling too much like a chore. – Mighty Midget
  • Split your training sessions
    A few times a week, I will go straight to the gym and do some cross-training and core strength exercises after a run. It's a lot harder to do this straight after a run, but the sense of achievement afterwards is great. I find it helps improve my running fitness as well. Split training sessions are good as well: run in the morning before work, then do an hour's cross-training in the gym after work. Find a programme that works for you, keeps you motivated, challenged and interested! – poppysox
  • Ever tried kick boxing?
    For everyone (like me) who finds weights and floor work a chore, I recommend kick boxing. It works every muscle you've got, it's great for balance and co-ordination, it gives a good cardio workout and burns a ton of calories. My core and upper-body muscles are loads better than if I relied on the odd time I could be bothered to pump iron. Make sure you go for the non-contact option, or you'll end up injured. In a class you'll meet some really nice people who'll help and advise you. – Quick silver


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