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Recovering from a Half Marathon Sucks: Here’s How to Make it Suck Less

Congrats! You just finished a half marathon!

Or maybe, you’re in your last week of training, looking forward to life after the race.

Either way, the hard part of training is behind you.

Half Marathon Recovery Sucks

If you’re about to run your race, you are going to push yourself harder than ever before, and you’re definitely going to feel it the next day. After all, a half marathon isn’t a leisurely long run, it’s a race!

What can you do to help promote more efficient recovery after a half marathon and get back into your running routine?

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That’s the question I plan to answer.

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Recovery from a Half Marathon Starts the Moment You Cross the Finish Line

First, take a moment to bask in your accomplishment and give thanks for your finish.

After that, it’s time to get some fuel in your body to start the re-hydration and muscle repair process.

Hydrate

Even if you were following a great half marathon fueling strategy, you will still be dehydrated after your race. Take in a mix of electrolytes and water to help you restore your body’s hydration levels.

Proper hydration helps prevent cramping, and it helps your body remove the lactic acid. Furthermore, it helps promote muscle repair.

My favorite hydration drink is Nuun Sport, which comes in little sticks perfect for dumping in a bottle of water after you finish.

Nuun Sport

Start Your Muscle Repair

During your half marathon, you just tore your muscles to shreds. No matter whether you’re a beginner tackling the distance for the first time, or an advanced athlete pushing your limits to the very edge, a half marathon is a tough effort.

Give your muscles the high quality carbohydrates and protein they need to jump-start your muscle repair within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line—before you head off to eat that delicious post-race celebration meal!

It’s likely to be at least an hour if not more after the race before you get a real meal anyways, so a serving of Herbalife24 Rebuild Strength is the perfect quick drink to promote recovery after a race.

Plus, it might be just enough to curb your hunger and prevent you from jumping off the deep end with your post-race celebration meal!

You can find it here.

Stretch Before You Sit Down

I know the only thing you feel like doing after you finish a half marathon is going to be to sit down, but DON’T DO IT! If you sit for longer than a couple minutes, you’ll start cramping. And cramping is no fun.

Keep walking for 30 minutes to an hour after you cross the finish line and avoid the urge to sit down. This will help drain the lactic acid from your muscles.

If you do need to get off your feet for a bit, use that opportunity to sit or lay in a nice grassy area and stretch out all those tight places. Your hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, quads, back, everything that aches.

Stretch it out.

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Recovery After a Half Marathon: The Next Few Days

What you do immediately after finishing a half marathon probably plays the biggest role in recovery, but what you do in the following days can determine whether it will take you a couple days or an entire week to get back into your normal running routine.

Sleep

Catch some extra Zzz’s after the race! Your body uses sleep to repair and rebuild torn muscles. Sleep is extremely important in the training process, but it will also help you recovery quicker after a race. You are definitely entitled to a race day afternoon nap!

Related: 9 Tips for Runners to Improve Sleep Quality

Half Marathon Recovery Nutrition

First, drink tons of water. Staying hydrated is key to flushing the toxins out and promoting muscle repair. Nuun Sport has all the electrolytes without a ton of extra calories.

Eat high quality foods. Consider incorporating a recovery shake every day to give your muscles the repair tools they need. Herbalife24 Rebuild Strength is a great mix for muscle recovery.

Exercise During Half Marathon Recovery

After my first half marathon, it physically hurt to walk or run for several days. I tried to take my dog on a few walks for my own exercise, so I could actually show some steps on my tracker for the day, but I looked like a crippled person shuffling down the sidewalk.

If this is your first half marathon, plan on not running for 3-5 days after your race. Maybe a full week.

For your workouts, plan walking or easy cross training days. Take this chance to get on a bike or take your dog for an extra walk.

The main point is to get your blood circulating to promote healing and flush the lactic acid out of your muscles. After you get your blood pumping, stretch.

Incorporate some foam rolling each day after your muscles are warmed up. This might be painful, but it “hurts so good”!

This is my favorite foam roller. Nothing fancy, but it works perfectly for what I need.

Bonus Half Marathon Recovery Methods

The biggest factors in the speed of your half marathon recovery are nutrition, light exercise/stretching, and time.

However, there are a few bonus methods that have shown to help promote a quicker recovery:

  • Relaxing Epsom salt bath for muscle recovery
  • Massage
  • Ice bath—if you dare!

Feel free to try them. I got a massage after my last half marathon and it was heavenly!

What recovery method is a must-have in your half marathon recovery routine?

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RunningMyBestLife

Run Happy,

Alexis

About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>

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