Half Marathon Recovery Tips

How to Recover from Your 13.1 Mile Race

Running a half marathon is no simple feat, and the recovery can be tough, too -- especially if you don't take care of yourself properly. Here's some advice to help you recover from a half marathon.

Resist the urge to race or run hard.

A woman runs the ING New York City Marathon on November 3, 2013 in New York City.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Give your muscles a break, an opportunity to repair themselves. It takes about two weeks to fully recover from a half marathon, so try not to run really long or do an intense workout during that time. Stick to shorter, easy runs or cross training.

Make sure you rehydrate.

Restoring your fluid balance is a critical part of the recovery process. Drink a combination of water and sports drinks to replenish lost fluids, sodium and electrolytes.

Ice your sore muscles.

Dylan Ellis

Taking an ice bath within a few hours, or even a few days, after your half marathon can help speed up your recovery. If you can't tolerate an ice bath or don't have access to a bathtub, fill a pail or garbage can with ice and water and at least ice down your feet and lower legs. And use ice packs on sore areas, such as your quads and knees.

Eat a healthy diet.

Stick to a balanced diet with plenty of good carbohydrates and protein to help repair and rebuild those damaged muscles. You may still feel hungry all the time, like you did during training. Stick to frequent, small meals to curb your hunger and avoid overeating.

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Go for a massage.

Runner getting massage
Pinnacle Pictures

Massage is a great relief for your muscle pain and stiffness -- just make sure the masseuse keeps it gentle. Some half marathons even have massage tents at the finish line, so you can get a quick massage after you finish. You can also do self-massage using a massage tool such as a foam roller or Stick.

Beat the blues

You've trained so hard, scheduled your life around your running, and now you've accomplished your goal. It's normal -- and actually quite common -- to feel down and disconnected after the excitement of the race has ended. The best way to get over the post-race blues is to set a new goal. Give yourself a few weeks to recover and pick out another race. It doesn't have to be another half marathon. Maybe you want to stick to shorter distances, like 5Ks or 10Ks, or maybe try a full marathon.

More: How to Get Over a Bad Race

Get plenty of sleep.

Man sleeping
Jose Luis Pelaez

Sleep is crucial for the recovery process. Training for and running a half marathon is physically and mentally exhausting. Your body needs a chance to recover, repair, and rest. Listen to your body and don't feel guilty about sleeping a lot -- it's normal.

Savor your accomplishment.

Keep reminding yourself of what an incredible feat you've accomplished. Look at your pictures from the race to relive the day. Put your medal on again and remember what it felt like to cross that half marathon finish line.