Regardless of the fact that you’ve spent months training and preparing for a half marathon, running 13.1 miles puts a lot of stress on your body – particularly your legs. There are, however, a number of strategies you can employ to aid the recovery process as quickly and painlessly as possible – and most of them can begin immediately, or soon after, the race finishes.
Keep on Moving
You’ve just run 13 miles, so the last thing on your mind when you finish is to keep going. But a light jog followed by gentle stretching of the legs immediately after the race will help to gradually return your body to a resting state, and clear your blood and muscles of lactic acid, which will limit your chances of developing crippling leg cramps. If you’re in no state to jog, even a walk followed by gentle stretching is better than flopping onto the grass and doing nothing.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Try to drink some water or juice as quickly as you can after the race has finished, even if you’ve made use of the water stations along the route. And make sure you're fully hydrated before cracking open the celebratory fizz, or any alcohol for that matter.
Eating might also not be at the top of your agenda after the race, but try to tuck into starchy foods within two hours of the event – this will allow your muscles to replace the energy.
Get Back to Work
For most of us, the after-effects of running a half marathon will be felt for a good couple of days following the event, so don’t panic if your legs are still killing you. However, after a week, your fitness levels will begin to fall, and you don’t want to undo all of your hard work. So get back out there and think about what your next challenge is going to be.