It’s about time that I post my final installment of tips for running your first half marathon. So far, I’ve covered what to keep in mind before the race, as well as on race day, but work is not done once you cross that finish line. So once you receive your finishers’ metal, what’s next?
- As tempting as it may be to sit down after you finish, don’t! (I may be guilty of this following the B.A.A. Half…) Instead, walk around to keep the blood flowing and help prevent leg cramps or fainting.
- Stretch. Once you’ve caught your breath, find an open space to stretch and flush out lactic acid. Here are some good stretches for runners.
- Rehydrate. According to Active, a good rule of thumb is to drink one quart of fluid for every half-hour of running.
- Refuel. Most road races provide some kind of post-race nourishment, from bagels to protein bars to fruit. A balanced post-race snack includes carbs, protein and some fat about 30 to 60 minutes after the race to start replenishing your glycogen storage.
- Avoid the temptation of a hot shower. A cold shower directed at the legs or ice massage with an ice pack constricts blood vessels and muscle tissue and prevents blood from pooling in your legs, says Active.
- Celebrate! Go ahead, brag on social media and call all your supporters. You did it. However, practice moderation, as alcohol inhibits the re-hydration process.
- The day after the race (or maybe even for a few days) avoid any fitness. Instead, use a foam roller to tend sore muscles, and do plenty of stretching.
- Reflect. What can you learn from this experience, and what can you do differently next time?
- Start to slowly return to your normal workout schedule. Cross training is a great way to ease back into things without giving your legs a pounding.
- Sign up for your next race. Well okay, maybe not just yet. But many runners tend to feel some post-race blues after such a climactic event, so having an idea of your next running goal will help you overcome this.
I hope you enjoyed this mini-series. Let me know if you would like to see more in the future, as I never seem to be short on advice!