If you have recently run a half marathon, then you deserve a large round of applause. Even for seasoned long distance runners, a half marathon is no easy task. Not only is physically exhausting and taxing on the body, but it is also mentally taxing too.
When you first begin your training for a half marathon, it is likely that your main focus is endurance and learning the correct breathing techniques. In addition to this, you will want to train your body to run for long distances, and you will need to focus on getting into the correct mindset.
There is a lot of effort and months of training that goes into preparing to run a half marathon. However, when it comes to how you feel after running the half marathon, and the steps you should take, sometimes this can be overlooked.
While it is paramount to train and run correctly in order to help avoid injury, you will need to have the correct amount of rest after the run too. This cooling down and resting period is just as important. If you do not rest for long enough after a half marathon, this can potentially lead to injury.
Given the length of a half marathon, the recovery time will be longer than if you ran a shorter distance. The main factor you will need to take into consideration when thinking about the rest time is how fit and active you are.
For example, professional athletes and long distance runners will likely only need around 4 days of rest after racing. This is because they specifically train for these purposes and a half marathon is not as taxing on their bodies as it is for the average person.
If you are fairly new to long distance running, and you have a longer race time, you will ideally want to take around 7 days to recover fully. When you think of all your body has been put through, you will want to give it time to heal and recover. However, you can take longer than a week of rest if needed.
These are just suggestions, and it is down to the individual as to how long they rest for. However, it is not recommended beginning training too early, as even the most successful long distance runners need time for their bodies to rest and recover.
How do I cool down after a half marathon?
After you have finished running a half marathon, you will want to cool down properly. The worst thing you can do for your body and recovery is to stop moving and not stretch properly. This will seriously affect your recovery time and process.
Even though walking may be the last thing on your mind, you will want to ensure that you walk for around 15 to 20 minutes. This allows your body and muscles to begin to cool down and stretch out gradually.
In addition to this, it will help to bring down your heart rate gradually. If you prefer, you can carry out a light jog instead of a walk too. This cool down will prevent a build up of lactic acid.
You will want to ensure that you drink plenty of water. Water will help to keep you hydrated. This is essential after a race, especially given that exercise and sweating can lead to dehydration if you do not drink enough water.
Once you have finished your cool down walk, you will want to spend a good amount of time stretching out your muscles. This will help greatly with the recovery process. In addition to this, you can also opt to have a post half marathon massage around two days after the race.
How do I recover after a half marathon?
The best way to recover after a half marathon is to rest. After you have carried out your cool down routine, you will want to give your body time to recover and heal. Once you get home, one of the first things that is recommended is a cold water bath. This will help to prevent any swelling, and it will soothe the muscles you have used.
Cold baths are a great way of helping with the recovery process, and will help your muscles to relax. After this, it is useful to continue stretching out your muscles. A few things that can help with this are yoga poses such as viparita karani.
In addition to this, you can also incorporate a foam roller if you want to ease the muscles further. Post race massages are also a great factor in helping with recovery.
While stretching and resting is important, you should not forget to stay hydrated. Water is so important after a half marathon. In addition to this, a well balanced meal is essential too. Some runners will also opt to consume a sports drink. These are often filled with electrolytes that can help with hydration.
Should you get a massage after a half marathon?
We would certainly recommend getting a massage after running a half marathon. However, you should wait around 48 hours to do this, to allow your muscles to have some time to rest and recover.
Massages are useful as they help to relax your body and remove any remnants of lactic acid that have remained in your muscles. Many runners find that massages are particularly helpful and will always incorporate them into their recovery period.
The most important thing to remember when receiving a post half marathon massage is to inform your masseuse of this. During your recovery, you will want to avoid massages that are too deep as this can be painful. It is important to remember that your muscles will still be healing at this point.
In addition to helping your muscles heal, massages will also help your nervous system and your whole body to relax. While they are a well deserved treat, they are important to have too.
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