As you can see on my page I ran a competitive half marathon 7 times. I ran more but after each Marathon, I took some days to recover. This is the standard process I follow for my half marathon recovery and to prepare myself for the next race.
I have observed people putting in all their energy in racing, training and so on, however, they often forget to stay injury-free for fast recovery. Recovery after a 5K and 10K is an easy task but for a half marathon, the tough thing to do is to recover and if you have not made prior arrangements, it can be a tedious task.
In the upcoming sections, you will get a complete insight on how to recover after a half marathon. All you have to do is to understand the things, build a strong foundation so that you can quickly join your next training sessions with reduced injury risks.
How long does it take for your body to recover from a half marathon?
Generally, I can say 1-2 days but the first run after a half marathon is on day 5 and in this first run I run only 5km. The first 1-2 days are active recovery with healthy eats and much stretching. From day 3 to 4 is only passive because I want to prepare my body for the next running.
A lot of people will tell me how fast I’m recovering, but I think it is because I have preparation before myself for a half marathon. I want you to write 9 Tips on how you can make recovery quick.
Prepare Your Body Before Half Marathon
TIP 1: Keep Your Body Hydrated
When you get into the routine of regular running or half marathon, your body tends to dehydrate. The foremost thing to be taken care of is to drink lots of water. Remember to do this religiously one week before your marathon.
Besides water, you can even opt for coconut water, juice, or sports drink as these comprise electrolytes that keep your body hydrated even during the race. When you are planning to run for long hours, the water and liquid content in your body should be sufficient enough. The healthier you are, the more you can sustain in your marathon.
Furthermore, a fast recovery is the foremost goal to achieve. During the race, all your stored body contents are utilized, leaving your body weak and dehydrated. Do not delay hydrating your body enough immediately after completing the race. The more hydrated your body will be, you will recover faster.
TIP 2: Healthy Eating Habits
The best way to prepare yourself for a half marathon is by following a strict healthy and nutritious food plan. For that, at least one week before a run, you ought to eat healthy food, especially those very low in carbohydrates.
Here, another noteworthy point is it is beneficial to eat more complex carbohydrates one day before your half marathon race. Also, try to eat small meals in the gap of every two to three hours.
Further, your aim should be to get at least 20 percent of calories from food rich in fats, 25 percent of calories from food rich in proteins, and the remaining percentage from complex carbs and so on.
Besides, you have to be strict and disciplined enough to drink sports drinks and water periodically to keep your body fairly hydrated. To examine your liquid intake level, check the color of your urine. For a healthy hydrated body, it should be pale yellow. The dark shades of yellow of your urine indicate a dehydrated body.
TIP 3: Stretch Your Limbs and Massage Thoroughly
As I mentioned in earlier tips, you have to keep your body healthy, happy, and full of nutrition. Besides health tips, there are some more useful tips on stretching. While you are practicing your half marathon, once you cool down, remember to always stretch your legs and do not take any leverage of being lazy about this.
Further, if you thoroughly stretch while you are still in your practice days, it will extensively help you to easily get out of your bed the next day. The perk with this small stretching session will give you enough energy to run another half marathon.
In addition to this, while stretching or once you are done stretching, massage on a foam roller. The massage will keep your muscles and tendons free from getting sore and cramping. Not only this, it benefits you in maintaining flexibility. My final words on stretching are you will never be walking like a Tin Man immediately an hour after the race.
Recovery After Half Marathon
TIP 4: Food After Running a Half-marathon
The food you choose to eat after running a half marathon can immensely boost your recovery. Here I am listing some of the best food items that are tasty and healthy to eat in the days and especially weeks after your half marathon.
- Dairy Products
Sugar-free dairy products such as real greek yogurt, quark, cottage cheese, and so on are excellent food items for muscle recovery. These are rich sources of protein as well as amino acids that ease soreness and swiftly repair your muscles.
- Oily Fish
As you know, the normal food we eat doesn’t contain enough fatty acids so you can opt for any oily fish from sardines. They contain Omega 3 fatty acids which heal your brain health, repair tissue and even bring down the inflammation.
- Wild Meat
Red meat accelerates the recovery rate, however, wild meat such as venison, bison, etc are highly recommended. Since such wild meat is significantly thinner it makes it lower in calories and fats. Also, it will completely nourish your muscles with iron, protein, zinc, and various other important nutrients.
- 4. Green Tea
Green tea contains extremely helpful natural chemicals including polyphenol that recovers from inflammation which is caused by running or any marathon.
- 5. Whole Eggs
How can we forget the wonder product eggs which have zero carbs, high in proteins, low calories, with healthy fat in the yolk?
TIP 5: Stretch Body After a Half Marathon
The biggest hurt after running a half marathon is crampy and sore legs. During your recovery period, you can start focusing on pilates or yoga. They are amazing activities because of their low-intensity, low-impact.
Further, you can fully concentrate on redlining and stretching your tight spots. It is recommended that you should select exercises that are simple poses that stretch and strengthen your muscles. Also, this practice will increase your blood circulation and loosen your joints by enhancing flexibility.
TIP 6: Drink After Marathon
Coming to the best recovery drinks you should have after a half marathon includes at least one pound or 16 ounces of water. In this case, you should try to recover the fluid loss within a few hours of finishing the race.
You can start sipping on fluids shortly after completing. Observe your body, if you are feeling thirsty even after three to four hours finishing the race, continue to drink. The best thing is to keep sip on water or other juices continuously throughout the day.
For the initial half an hour after completing the half marathon, drink water only and eat food just to replenish the stored glycogen. Do not go for juices or sports drinks as they have excess sugar which your body doesn’t require.
After having enough water, you can jump to sports drinks like Powerade, cytomax, Gatorade, hammer, and so on. All these drinks should be taken along with water as water has no replacement.
TIP 7: Go to Pool or Ice Baths for One Hour
As you are a runner, you must have an idea of the level of comfort ice baths give your body and subsequently minimizes the inflammation. This significantly benefits you to subdue the effect of post-marathon soreness and reduces the recovery time as well.
I would say try to get in your pool or take the ice bath immediately after the race ends. However, do not take the statement literally, feeding your body should be your priority. Yes! The ice bath should then be your priority.
Coming to the question of how long you should be in your pool or taking the ice bath. The answer is this activity should be between 40 minutes to one hour. The water should be cold enough to get the desired impact on your body.
Make water should not be so cold that it becomes difficult to even stand in the pool or tub. Next, your waist should be deep so that your body gets numb after about 2 minutes of entering it. If your body feels a pins and needles sensation after 2-3 minutes then raise the temperature of water because it is still too cold to handle.
TIP 8: Sleep Good
After relaxing your body in the cold water pool, it’s time for the real healing technique, sleep. Sleep is one of the unmatchable cures for an achy and ailing body. After successfully completing your half marathon, try to either go to bed at least an hour earlier or a nap later on in the afternoon.
If you include all these little things in your schedule, it will enormously enable your muscles to repair themselves. Also, it is quite beneficial to reset cognitive abilities.
Besides all the above-mentioned steps, you can confidently go for a 20 minutes nap for 2 to 4 hours after eating a good heavy carb meal. This nap will bring your body to rest and it will be ready to digest the food swiftly by speeding up the recovery process.
TIP 9: Get Dressed-up Dry
There are cases when it rained during the marathon, if you face any such situation where you have to run in windy and rainy weather, change into dry and fresh outfits. After running when the body temperature drops, your wet dress will aggravate the chances of hypothermia.
Another condition is, if there is any possibility of running in a rainy as well as the cold marathon, make the prior arrangements and keep the changing dry clothes in your gear bag. do not forget to dry off yourself with a good absorbing towel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Half Marathon Recovery (FAQs)
Why is Beer Good After a Marathon?
A beer contains polyphenol that is enormously useful in reducing inflammation that can overpower the body’s immune system. The astonishing fact is runners who drink beer tend to recover much faster and they feel less cold. Not only this, they develop immunity against viruses and fungal infections in the coming weeks following your half marathon race.
What Happens to Your Body After a Half Marathon?
The relieving thing here is that an injury is not a common phenomenon observed in half marathon runners. Yes! This doesn’t indicate that you will not feel any soreness or pain.
There is a possibility of having lower body problems such as plantar fascitis, hamstrings, quads, shin splints, muscle pains, and soreness in calves. Though just by gentle stretching and rest, you can swiftly recover from muscle pains or cramps.
How many days a week should I run on the treadmill?
You can run 3 times or even more in a week on a treadmill. To achieve this, set up a weekly routine and strictly follow it. Remember to take a day or two off and let your body rest for a significant time. You can even limit the sessions to 5 days a week.
There is no hard and fast rule that your body is going to react in this particular manner during a half marathon. However, prior precautions are always recommended. You may take one or two weeks for half marathon recovery after the event.
As I explained above, plan your training sessions and completely focus on your base building. Follow the instructions strictly, keep yourself disciplined, and there you are ready to run another marathon.