So, you’ve been training hard and you’re ready for your half marathon. You’ve got everything covered, from food prep to race day outfit. You’ve got a banana and isotonic drink ready for the morning and you know what time you’re aiming to finish by. But what about once the race is complete? What do you need to do for good race recovery?
This time last week I had just raced my first Melbourne Half Mararthon, with my friend Alex as part of the Sri Chinmoy Series. We followed a training plan but dropped of ‘the wagon’ a little in the couple of weeks prior to race day. So although we were confident about completing the race well we knew recovery would be trickier.
What you do following race day is just as important as what you do before. So make sure you are prepared for that. Here are my top tips every runner should follow to help your body recover from a half marathon.
Just as important after as before and during. Make sure you keep well hydrated immediately after the race by replenishing your body with electrolytes. Try a sports drink or even coconut water.
As tempting as it is to flop down to the ground once you’ve passed the finish line (and you’ve every right to after being on the move for 21km!) this is actually one of the worst things for recovery. As with any physical activity, cool down is essential. Keep your body moving by gently walking or jogging around the finishers area to avoid cramping. I biked down to the event – only one mile! – so jumping on the bike was a great cool down option.
STRETCH AND ROLL
Stretching is fundamental. To ensure you’re giving your body the best chance of recovery you need to thoroughly stretch after you have cooled down. The better you stretch now, the less sore you will be the next day. Better yet, the best piece of advice any runner should live by is to have a foam roller and use it well!
YAY – the best bit! You’ve just ran 21km, most likely first thing in the morning, so what better way to recover than to eat. It’s the prefect time to go brunching where you can have your fill of the best types of food to refuel your body like eggs and avocado, bananas and pancakes!
GET BACK ON THE HORSE
It’s probably the last thing you want to do but a recovery run, or something similar, is a great in the days after a half marathon. The very next day I biked to work and it really helped to keep my legs from stiffening up too much! If you can manage a gentle recovery run at some point 2-3 days after the race that would be ideal.
Once you’ve done all these things and you’re fully recovered from race day, it’s up to you what you do next. Running the half marathon might have been a one off accomplishment or it might be a stepping stone towards something else. Whichever it is, get back into the swing of things within a week and continue to run. Signing up for the next event is a great motivator and will keep you on track for more running success. Why not try the Melbourne Marathon Festival coming up in October.