Congratulations on completing your half marathon! It’s important to recover after a half marathon.
Whether it was your first or seventh race, there are steps you can take to reduce muscle soreness, rebuild your body’s fuel supply, and get back to your normal running and fitness routine sooner rather than later.
There are different ways to rest and recover after a half marathon.
Whatever you do, it’s important to give your body a good rest after such a high impact event.
Your body probably suffered a lot of micro tears to muscles and your glycogen stores will be low, if not depleted.
Your body is amazing and is capable of some amazing things like running a half marathon, but remember to give it time to rest to avoid burnout or injury.
There’s no shame in taking a break from it all for a few days.
So, what can you do after a race to aid recovery?
Stay hydrated in the days after the event.
Drink lots of water throughout the day and consider including an energy sports drink to aid glycogen levels.
If you’re not a big fan of litres of tap water, try adding some fresh fruit like cucumber, lemon or strawberries to add some flavour.
Fuel your body
Eat 2-3 meals a day and keep snacking! Try and get some good sources of protein, carbs and fats in your meals.
Protein – lean meat and fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, beans and legumes, tofu.
Carbohydrates – sweet potatoes, white potatoes, brown rice, rye bread, wholemeal bread, beans and lentils, quinoa, pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries.
Fats – avocados, cheese, dark chocolate, eggs, salmon, mackerel, nuts, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, full fat yoghurt.
The temptation is to sit down after a half marathon and watch a heap load of Netflix (I know I fall into this trap).
But it’s good to keep moving so your muscles don’t seize up.
Go for a gentle walk every hour or so or keep moving around your house.
Consider doing some gentle stretches to make your recovery period a little easier.
The more you stretch, the less stiff you’ll be in the morning. Yoga is also a great way to gently stretch it out.
Some good and easy static stretches to release tension in tight muscles include: forward lunge, hamstring stretch and calf raises.
Stretch until you feel a slight pull and then hold that position for 20-90 seconds.
Stretching on its own is beneficial, but be careful not to push your body too much as it can cause muscle tears to worsen.
A foam roller is a great way to release some of that lactic acid in your muscles and delay onset muscle soreness.
Try and foam roll at least five minutes a day. I normally start foam rolling on day three after my half marathon as it’s simply too painful before that.
There are different types of foam rollers out there on the market that target different parts of the body from low to high density.
I’d suggest starting with a low to medium density foam roller that isn’t too intensive on your muscles.
Gently get back into running
If you want to start incorporate running back into your routine, I suggest you mix it up with walking breaks.
This will give your body adequate time to get back into the swing of things.
Of course, every one is different and only you know your body, so if you feel comfortable doing longer stints of running, then go for it!