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Half-Marathon Recovery Guide - The First Days After the Marathon

The First Days After the Marathon Now is the time to really listen to your body even more. Deep recovery is your top priority. You just ran 26.2 miles—a great achievement! How quickly you recover will be a combination of your own unique body and how well you take care of it. Some people will recover faster by taking a short walk or a 10- to 15-minute jog. I usually jogged for a short distance the day after, and felt this very light workout helped me reduce stiffness and soreness. If you are an average to good runner, you most likely will feel better after a short jog. However, no matter how good you might feel, limit yourself to three or four miles. Also, on all your runs in the next few days, you will want to keep your heart rate low, so always try to maintain a nice, relaxed pace. This advice assumes you didn’t hurt yourself during the marathon and can move more or less normally. Avoid running if you strained a muscle or have bad blisters on your feet. Take a break from running if you experienced something which doesn’t allow you to run in your usual style—an altered gait can just create other problems you really want to avoid. Please, seek immediate medical help if you feel you might have injured yourself! You may be wondering, “Why should I do anything at all?” Just as with walking the afternoon after your marathon, light activity will increase your blood circulation, which will help flush out metabolic waste and get oxygen and nutrients flowing to your muscles again. Before doing a light workout, avoid stretching. Your soft tissues will be tight—especially after a hilly marathon. Stretching them ‘cold’—while they’re in this delicate state—puts them at risk for slight tears. In fact, all week long it is a good idea to be very gentle with any stretching—and only do so after a short workout or warm-up. Focus on your calves and Achilles tendons, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes. Then limit yourself to a short, gentle stretching session lasting no more than ten minutes. If you have the chance, indulge yourself—and not just with food! If you’ve just run a big-city marathon and aren’t rushing home, maybe some sightseeing, going on a little shopping spree, or doing something completely different from the marathon focus you’ve had for the last week. Sightseeing is good because you’ll get to do some walking at a comfortable pace—and, if the walk is long enough, it can provide sufficient and pleasurable recovery exercise for the day. Then you can resume relaxed running tomorrow. If you feel joint pain or otherwise think that jogging or walking will hinder—rather than help—your recovery, it’s still a good idea to do something active because increased blood flow hastens muscle recovery. One idea is to try some easy cross-training, such as swimming, water running, or light spinning on a bike. Since sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between an acute injury and some general soreness, please do not wait too long to see a sports medicine professional if you have a fair amount of pain! In most cases, however, your soreness or stiffness more likely will be the result of simple overloading as opposed to coming from a true injury.
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I approved of the "indulge yourself" step!
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