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How to recover from a half marathon

So you’ve finished your first half marathon, what now?

On the day just enjoy the elation of completing a challenge. If you’ve done well, fantastic, if not so well, don’t feel down. There are not many people who could do what you’ve just done.

Drink plenty of water and later you can celebrate with alcohol if you wish but be sure to keep rehydrating for the next day. When you are peeing normally again with straw coloured urine you can ease off. Eat as soon as you can and make sure you have plenty to replace the calories, salts, proteins etc. you’ve used. There is some guidance on what to eat but a mixture is good. I like bananas, yoghurt, chocolate and pasta but not as a smoothie.

Take time to do a proper warm down. It may seem hard after 13 miles but try to jog slowly, or fast walk for at least half a mile. Stretch out your Achilles tendons, calves, hamstrings, hips, back shoulders and neck for a few minutes. You will recover quicker, ache less and be less likely to become injured. Have a bath or shower, get comfortable and cool off. Remember your increased metabolic rate due to running continues for the next 24 hours. You could try the ice plunge if you’re up for it. It is supposed to stop the build-up of adverse chemicals in your muscles, increase recovery and lessen aches and pains. I have found it a little too uncomfortable and prefer a proper warm down and to keep moving after my race.

Sleep well and be prepared for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) if you’ve run harder than your used to. This usually starts around 24-48 hours after your run. I usually first feel it in my thighs and calves when going up stairs. The best thing to do is keep moving and go for a slow run the day after a race.

For a few days post-race, you may feel a little low and not feel like getting out to run. This is not unusual, you’ve pushed your mind and body to extreme and the period immediately after a race is a bit of an anti-climax. Again the best thing to do is to get out, preferably with others, for a run. If you haven’t done so, sign up for another race in the next month or so, thus giving yourself another training and activity goal. Better still, if you're not in one, join a running club as it makes all this so much easier and more fun. In Newark we have 4 clubs, who all helped to get the Newark Half Marathon together: Newark Striders Running Club, Newark AC, Notfast and Fernwood Running Club. Take a look at our clubs page.They will allow you try out sessions with them before you join so have a look at their websites and get along. ‘Parkrun’ is another easy and enjoyable way of keeping your running going, a 5 kilometre run held every Saturday morning at 9.00 in parks all over the country and the world. Including Newark’s Sconce Park.

Do keep going with what some of you may have only just started and find excuses to run rather than not to. For those of you who are experienced and committed runners do continue to spread the word.

Keep active/Enjoy Life

Peter Davis MBE

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