Recovering After Your Half Marathon

female runner with arms outstretched at marathon finish line
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You've just finished a half marathon — congratulations! Perhaps you're already thinking about doing another one, or maybe you're thinking that you're going to stick to shorter races from now on. Whatever your future goals may be, the first and most important step after a half marathon is to focus on your recovery.

Half Marathon Recovery — Finish Line Through First Week

Your half marathon recovery starts as soon as you cross that finish line, so make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. (And don't forget to celebrate your accomplishment!) Don't skimp on rehydrating at the finish and getting a snack that includes some protein, carbs and a little salt. It will help your muscles and energy systems recover.

Listen to your body and make sure you get plenty of rest during the first couple of days post-half marathon. You may have sore muscles and achy joints for a few days, but you should be feeling better each day. Make sure you're eating a healthy diet with plenty of protein to help repair your muscles. Stay well-hydrated so your body has enough fluids to clear out waste products and bring nutrients to your muscles. Too much celebrating with alcohol can be dehydrating — just saying!

You can get back to running the day after the race (or later if you don't feel like running just yet), but don’t rush right back into serious training. Your body is still repairing the damage from your training and the race.

Even if you're feeling completely pain-free and recovered, you should take it easy for a week or two. If you're still feeling pain a week post-half marathon, you may need to see a physical therapist or sports doctor.

How Much Can I Run While Recovering from a Half Marathon?

After completing a half marathon, some runners decide they want to take a break from running for one or several months before getting back to training. Other runners catch the half marathon bug and decide that they want to another soon.

Reverse Taper After the Half Marathon

If you decide that you do want to continue training, do a "reverse taper" for two weeks post-half marathon. During your half marathon tapering period, you gradually cut back your mileage. Now's the time to gradually build it back up by doing the last two weeks of your half marathon training schedule in reverse. So your two-week post-half marathon schedule might look something like this. (All runs at an easy pace.)

Day 1: Half marathon race
Day 2: Rest or 20-minute run or walk
Day 3: 20-minute run or walk
Day 4: Rest or 30 minutes easy cross training
Day 5: 30-minute run
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: 4 - 5 miles
Day 8: Rest or 30 minutes easy cross training
Day 9: 40-minute run
Day 10: 3 - 4 miles
Day 11: Rest or 30 minutes easy cross training
Day 12: 4 - 5 miles
Day 13: Rest
Day 14: 8 - 10 miles

Once you've made it through this two-week period, you can safely jump into a half marathon training plan at the appropriate week.

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