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Jessie Knight: Why protein is key to my recovery 

Jessie Knight is a Team GB athlete specialising in the 400 metre hurdles and won a bronze in the 4×400 metre relay at the 2022 World Championships. The 29-year-old has recently made protein intake a key area of focus in preparation for this year’s World Championships as she looks to build upon her success in the competition last year. Here she discusses why recovery is so important between training sessions, why she’s made protein a priority and the products and supplements that are helping her. 

Jessie Knight is no ordinary athlete. At 6am each morning, her alarm clock goes off and she takes her dog for a walk before heading to the primary school where she works as a teacher. After the children leave at 3:15pm, Knight stays at her desk to do another two hours of marking and planning before finally getting into her car. But while her fellow teachers head home, the 29-year-old drives to her local running track to put in a 6:30-9pm shift on the track. 

It’s a gruelling schedule but one that seems to be getting the best out of her. In June 2023 she equalled her personal best over the 400-metre distance with a time of 54:09 at the London Athletics Meet at London’s Olympic Stadium, just over a year after running the same time at a meet in Belgium. Next up for Knight is the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on August 19, where three heats stand in the way of her and the final. 

Read more: Athlete insight with Jessie Knight

“I haven’t yet run a PB at a major championship, so I just want to perform when it matters and run the quickest I ever have over the distance,” she says to “I know if I can do that, I can reach the world final. My aim is to run really well in the heats and semi-finals and then place myself in a really good position for that final. I just want to know what my body can do, I’m going in with an equal PB and so I know I’m in good shape.” 

In the build up to the championships, protein and recovery have been a key area of focus as she looks to continue her stellar year. “Protein intake is hugely important for me,” Knight says. “I’m actually tracking it at the moment just to make sure that I’m consuming enough on a daily basis. Most athletes will know how much protein they need per kilogram of body weight so it’s really important that I’m on top of it so I recover as well as possible between sessions.”  

Read more: Protein intake for optimal performance 

Knight has a tried and tested recovery routine to ensure her protein intake and recovery is optimal. After finishing a training session on the track or a race, Knight gives herself a 20 minute window in which to consume a protein shake or bar. “My favourite flavour is the dark chocolate raspberry protein bar – the cookies and cream flavour are a close second,” she says. “If I’m having a shake I’ll go for the whey protein powder.” She also consumes regular servings of protein throughout the day. “Typically I’ll have a source of protein every three or four hours,” she adds.  

After her session or race is finished, Knight then runs through a recovery routine to reduce the risk of injury. “My warm down is quite basic,” she explains. So that will normally consist of a five minute jog and some strides until my body feels like it’s recovered. Once that’s done I make sure I have a high protein meal as soon as possible. The protein products are fantastic for starting that recovery process but it’s important to replenish your energy stores and repair your muscles with whole foods as well.” 

Written by: Alec Fenn

Alec has been interviewing athletes and coaches and writing about health, fitness and nutrition since 2010. He’s contributed to a host of national publications including BBC Sport, FourFourTwo magazine, The Independent and the Daily Mail. As an amateur sportsman and avid gym-goer he has a passion for finding out how sports nutrition can help athletes reach peak performance.

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