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.
Ice your sore muscles.
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.
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.
Eat a healthy diet.Stick to a balanced diet with plenty of good carbohydrates and protein to help repair and rebuild those damaged muscles.
Resist the urge to race or run hard.
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.
Get plenty of sleep.Sleep is crucial for the recovery process. Listen to your body and don't feel guilty about sleeping a lot -- it's normal.
Go for a massage.
Massage is a great relief for your muscle pain and stiffness -- just make sure the masseuse keeps it gentle. 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.