A half marathon race is something that you will put tremendous time and effort in to, when you are preparing for your race. If you have run them several times in the past, you know what it takes; for first time runners, who have put in several months of training, and are done with their first race, you may not know how much it took out of your body, to train, and eventually complete the long distance run that you have finished. For this reason, you need to undergo substantial recovery from your race, to help you alleviate the sore muscles, get past the pain, and eventually get your training underway again for the next race! Within this half marathon recovery guide, you’ll find a few simple tips to consider; regardless of how many races you have run, these steps should be taken by every runner, to get their body back in shape, and rebuild the fuel they have lost in preparation of that long race.
To help with a speedy recovery after running the race, taking ice baths a few hours after the race, and up to a few days after the race, can help your muscles relax, and recoup. If you can’t handle the ice bath, at least ice down the legs, feet, and knees, in a garbage can or bathtub filled with ice. The use of ice packs on the quads, and other areas of the body after a race, can also help in the recovery process, and help speed up the recovery of your muscles.
Ice baths help constrict blood vessels, and flush out waste products (like lactic acid), from the affected tissues in your body after a run. The ice also helps to reduce in the amount of swelling that is seen post race, and aids in tissue breakdown, after you complete your half marathon race.
Watch your diet
It is important to stick to a balanced diet after the race, and the days following; many people think it is time to eat whatever they want, and to splurge – this is not the case. Focus on a healthy balance of carbohydrates, to help restore the lost energy levels, and high protein content in the diet, to provide a lean source of fuel and calories. Protein helps in the rebuilding and repairing of damaged muscles and muscle tissue, which is a result of the race; therefore, plenty of lean proteins in the following days, will help in the healing process, and help with the pain you are feeling as well.
Even if you do not feel thirsty after the race, hours after, and days after the race, it is crucial to hydrate the body as frequently as possible. A critical part in the recovery process, is to restore the balance of fluids in your system. For the day of, and a few days following the race, you should drink plenty of water, and sports drinks. Hydration, replenishing the electrolyte levels in your system, and helping replenish the sodium levels in your system, will occur when you consume sports drinks. Due to the fact that you become dehydrated during the race (whether or not you feel it), you need to replenish after the race.
Rest from Exercise
Some runners (especially more advanced runners), want to get out there and start training right away; this should be avoided at all costs. You have to resist the urge to start training right away; the body needs some time off; at the very least, a few days should be taken off. It will take about two weeks to fully recover from the damaged and injured muscles, after a half marathon; during this time, you should avoid long runs, and avoid heavy lifting. If you do workout or run, choose lighter jogs, short distances, and avoid weight lifting for some time.Less is more, especially for the first few weeks after the race’s conclusion.
Wear compression gear
If you wear it during the race, you know it can help with your speed; but, this type of clothing can also help with the recovery.The compression gear can help eliminate the build up of lactic acid; it can also help reduce the levels of soreness that you will experience after a long run. By holding the muscle groups in place, and minimizing movement, the gear will help your body naturally heal, and help with levels of pain you feel after a run.
Although not necessary, a good way to relax, and help repair muscle and deep tissue damage. If you do choose to visit a masseuse, request a massage technique which is softer, and applies lower levels of pressure to the legs, calves, and thighs during the session.
Build new Goals
Feeling disconnected or down after you have completed the race, is ordinary; in fact, most runners who are new to the sport, will feel this way. A good way to regain focus, and drive, is to immediately set your new goals. When you do this, you are going to begin training again, and will have something new to work for. Whether it is another half marathon, a full marathon, triathlon or any other big event, focusing your goals on something new, is the ideal way to get out of a rut, and start working out again.
Not all runners are on the same level; for this reason, the half marathon recovery guide is going to vary a bit for each runner. Some runners will not need as much time off after the race, others will choose to forego the massages, and simply allow the body to naturally heal on its own. Regardless of the methods you choose, it is a good idea to lay out a plan, and to stick to it, so as to avoid injuries, and avoid over working the muscle groups which you have exhausted, with this long race. It does not matter how experienced you are, or how many half marathons you have run, the body needs to rest.
Before beginning heavy training or longer running distances again, make sure you go through the steps, and take enough time off to stabilize the system. These simple tips will get you on your way to fully recovering in less time, and on your way to training for the next big event, in less time.