Tips for Recovering From a Half Marathon

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Amelia Phillips

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How does your body feel after running 21 gruelling kms? Picture this, at the end of the race, an army of sore bodies hobbling around recovering from their big race. You can’t help but get pumped for the next one. However it is your recovery action plan that will determine how quickly your body is ready to train like a champion again. Follow these 5 tips within 3 days of your race to ensure you bounce back better than before:

1. Drink 1.5 litres of sports drink in the 24hr after the race:
Yes we all know rehydration after a race is essential (around 600ml for every 30min that you run), but replenishing your sodium levels is crucial. We tend to lose about one teaspoon of sodium every 2 hours so it is really important to replenish these sodium stores during and after the race. Electrolyte/isotonic drinks such as Gatorade are good as they get absorbed very quickly. NB: Too much sodium in the body can lead to high blood pressure, so apart from race time, avoid excess salt in your diet.

2. Stretch:
Stretch straight after the race, but also stretch every day for the next 4 days. A minimum of 10mins will do. This helps your damaged muscle fibres to repair correctly, preventing scar tissue and permanent flexibility loss. Hamstrings, hips flexors, lower back and calves are the absolute essentials. Don’t look after these puppies and you’re a gonner! Don’t force the stretches, you should be able to feel it but not be in pain. Hold each stretch for 30-60secs, and slow your breathing right down.

3. Get some blood back in your muscles:
Massage, hot baths, very gentle exercise (not running!) all increase blood flow to the muscles. The more blood that pumps through these muscles, the more nutrients can be delivered to repair them, and the faster they will recover.

4. Eat iron rich foods:
Think Popeye and his spinach habit. Think big juicy steak. Iron is responsible for getting oxygen to your working muscles and distance running can deplete these iron stores, causing anything from fatigue, to fainting. Dark green leafy vegetables contain iron as does lean red meat. So be sure to eat plenty of these in the week following your race.

5. Rest and sleep:
Try to get 8hrs sleep for 3 nights in a row. The only exercise should be super easy such as a swim. Be proud, you’ve achieved a milestone! Now give your body a break and it will reward you with a speedy recovery and many more years of running!

What other tricks do you use to recover after your event?

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  • Erika

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, your tips for recovery are great. I looked through your other articles and they’re great too, I’ll definitely be coming back–now that I’m back into running my diet could use some help as well as learning how to tone… keep it up!

  • Amy P

    Hi, Amelia
    Thanks for sharing your recovery advice and commenting on my blog. I am a firm believer in getting plenty of rest after a big race and will take you up on your advice to eat iron-rich food, something I’m usually not very good at doing! I enjoyed reading some of your other posts as well and will put you on my blogroll!
    Amy P

  • kch

    Good tips – especially the ‘sleep’ tip. I always seem to have lingering tiredness after a race, and find that I really need some extra sleep to recover quickly.

    I’d also suggest that the week after your half should be relatively easy – at most, the same mileage you did during your last taper week, and not too much speed work.

  • Amelia Burton

    Hi Erika,
    Thanks for the feedback. I will be posting some specific toning blogs soon, as well as sample diets to try. Stay tuned…

  • Amelia Burton

    Thanks Amy,

    Yes, iron levels are so incredibly important for women who train hard. Low iron levels can take a super fit person and turn them into a panting mess. Old popeye was definitely onto something!

  • Amelia Burton

    Hi Kch,

    Yes resting after your big race is important. Some people are still buzzing from the race and want to keep training, but you hit the nail on the head regarding rest and light training…

  • 10,000 Listings

    Hi, good tips for recovery. Besides the Sport drink and the Iron. Wouldn’t you suggest a Multi-Mineral with your recovery meal?

  • Amelia Burton

    Hi 10000 Listings,

    The multi vitamin I would recommend is Juice Plus. It is the most highly, idependantly researched product available. The absorbability by the body is remarkable and that is why it gets such good results. I’ve been on it for 8 years and I NEVER get sick!

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