How to recover from a half marathon

Sports Injury Fix Director, Mike James, has completed over 150 marathons and has trained, coached and treated 1000+ marathon runners over the last 20 years. Here is some timely advice from him on recovering from a half marathon.

Recovery is very individual, and a one size fits all approach cannot be applied. Just as runners need to train differently, the same applies to recovery. It may sound logical, but many runners don’t take their age into account when thinking about recovery time. Recovery does take longer as you age.

In general, the following points should help, and often trial an error to see what works and maybe more importantly doesn’t work for you being the ultimate determinants of how YOUR recovery strategy will look.

Massage & Soft Tissue work – If you feel like treating yourself to a relaxing spa, massage or any other type of “treatment” then go for it. You’ve trained, you deserve it. Will it assist or delay your recovery? We don’t know to be honest, but it will probably feel nice, make you feel more recovered following the race.

Sleep - The amount and quality of your sleep have a huge influence on your physical and mental recovery. Good sleep is always important, especially after a half marathon effort. A simple search online will offer you fantastic tips and strategies to optimise your sleep.

Footcare - Take good care of damaged feet, toes and nails. Many runners think that feet will recover without specific management, and often they will. But your feet are your tools of the trade, taking care of them now (if required) will pay dividends later.

Return to Run - Everyone will fall on a spectrum regarding this. Some will be able to lace the shoes up again quickly. Generally, I advise a short period of low impact activity, maybe a couple of walks post-race to help get moving again. Maybe a swim or bike ride for a few days to a week. By 7-10 days most runners can undertake an easy jog and I advise a softer surface is possible. By 2-4 weeks most should be back running regularly and can progress to full training. The most common error with return to running is going too hard, too soon post-race.

Nutrition - Essentially it is important to eat well and maintain a sufficient protein to carbohydrate ratio as well as rehydrating appropriately. This will aid recovery and a return to running. But for most, enjoying a well-earned treat for a day or two post-race won’t dramatically affect our recovery.

Heat, Cold and Compression – I could spend all day citing evidence and arguments for and against these strategies. Ultimately it is a personal choice. The other strategies I would argue are more important, and if you want to try these things and feel they help, then feel free to use them.

See a therapist? – Not everyone needs to see a therapist after a half marathon. When it is appropriate to seek further advice is if you have carried an injury and niggles beyond the usual aches and pains of running throughout the training journey, and feel it needs investigating, or indeed if you have been “patched up” and now it’s time to get fixed.

Enjoy your recoveries, congratulations again and the best of luck for the rest of 2019 and beyond. If you feel that you need to see a therapist, then visit sportsinjuryfix.com to find a therapist that specialises in running and running-related injuries. Read the full blog here.

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